The show the Soul Doctor is starting this Thursday 7th June in Jerusalem. It is based on the life of the colorful, dancing Rabbi, Shlomo Carlebach. Is it a Broadway musical. In fact, it is the first real Broadway show to appear in Israel.
Reb Shlomo as he was known to his followers was unique and his message spoke to Jews across the very wide Jewish world from Hassidim, Hareidim, National Religious to Reform, Reconstructionist and New Age Judaism. I bet a lot of you are wondering what are all these streams of Judaism? You will be surprised to learn that many of the leaders and let us say, people in each of these groups, consider Reb Shlomo as their Rebbe. Was he a Rebbe? Many people simply thought that he was a musician.
He was much more. The Soul Doctor tries to depict his life and journey and to convey a deeper message. That by itself is enough reason to go through to Jerusalem to see the show.
What gave me goosebumps while I recently watched a very moving movie documentary – Od Avinu Chai – on Reb Shlomo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL8N3grm7fw&feature=youtu.be) was that Shlomo’s wife Neila quoted Shlomo saying – Shlomo described himself as a doctor of Souls. Wow.
Before, launching into why the title “Soul Doctor” is so appropriate, I think it is important to understand the environment in which Shlomo found himself
In Israel, there a lot of bus stops where people leave old books. I picked up a book of the Rabbinical Council of America, from 1967. While glancing at one of the articles (which are Rabbi’s Sermons’) I came across the following: “Modern Diaspora Jews are banal, devitalized, living without joy, without faith, without ecstasy, a spiritually decentralized mass moving further and further away from the mountain.” On the following page, it asks “can such faith be taught?”
This is the backdrop to the times in which the Dancing Rabbi – Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, started his life work and mission. Reb Shlomo as he was known to his followers, was more than just a singing or dancing Rabbi. To take a phrase out of the Broadway show, “The Soul Doctor”, depicting his life story and message. He was a “soul doctor”.
On reflection, this name “soul doctor” is much deeper than the name of “dancing rabbi”. Reb Shlomo was a fixer of souls. He used music as a way to inspire and connect people to their souls.
A little about the show:
Soul Doctor is a musical celebrating Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s life. The father of modern-day Jewish music and life. The musical tells the story about the unique encounter between Rabbi Carlebach and the famous Gospel singer, Nina Simone.”Carlebach’s story is the story of the rejuvenation of the Jewish people after the Holocaust, during the 60’s in America”, says Daniel Wise, “Soul Doctor” director.”Rabbi Carlebach represents the voice of that same Jewish rejuvenation, while Nina Simone represents the voice of the civil movement and its’ struggle”
We welcome you to this experience of singing, unity, hope, and joy, inspired by this specific story and Rabbi Carlebach’s message via music.
So where do Shlomo’s Chevra stand on the show? Obviously, there is a mixed reaction. I will highlight some of the comments that are floating around my social media feeds.
In general, there is a feeling there has been the use of poetic license in over emphasizing Shlomo’s relationship with Nina Simone. Nathan Ophir in his biography on Reb Shlomo wrote about Reb Shlomo’s interaction with her in 1956–1957, when he was a “weekend” rabbi in Dorothy, New Jersey and she was singing 20 miles away in the Midtown Bar and Grill in Atlantic City. Reb Shlomo actually did adopt some of her songs for his own repertoire such as “Sinner Man,” an American spiritual telling the sinner not to run from God.
The show does, however, have strong support from his Chevra and the opening of the Show will be attended by Shlomo’s daughter, Dari, who will talk before Friday’s matinee on the 15th of June, from 11am. There will a “Carlebach Kabbalat Shabbat” before the show, lead by one of the current Soul Doctors, Yehuda Katz. Many of the Carlebach Chevra including members of the Carlebach Moshav will attend what hopefully can be described as one big Kabbalat Shabbat Party.
Below are some of the opinions of Shlomo’s Chevra :
SOUL DOCTOR. I was invited by Danny Wise, a very chashuv man, who was very close to Reb Shlomo, whom God blessed with parnassa, from the entertainment world. The play is not meant for Frum Yidden and is not meant to accurately depict Shlomo’s life. It is an incredible musical. Non-Jews around me loved it. They said it was the best musical they had seen on their Broadway tour. The music was the best I have ever heard. The English lyrics fit perfectly, the sentiment and struggles of the young Carlebach are engrossing. My wife hated it. “How can they depict our Rebbe like that!” I loved it. I’m sure Reb Shlomo loved it too. What angered me was how a non-Jew could play Shlomo and portray that holiness so convincingly!!!
Another person wrote: Chevra I don’t want to start a long discussion, but here are my feelings. R Shlomo was a unique person who did unique things. We know it, love it, appreciate it etc. But we also know that there are certain things that only he was able to do. R Shlomo’s mekor was from years of studying and learning and being close to Gedolim. He was strictly Orthodox, his every move was about how he could bring another Yid close to Hashem. The good that can come out of it is no different than going to watch a movie about the Rambam or any other Gadol. I am sure that for a non-Jewish person or a totally unaffiliated Jew there may be something good to learn from it.
I want to share the views of one of Shlomo’s followers – a liberal Jewish Feminist “I always thought that all the millions of dollars spent producing a Broadway musical could have spent more creatively in a way that would better honor and promote Reb Shlomo’s legacy. A play like the “Soul Doctor” can only reach those who are willing to buy a ticket. It does little to inspire and bring peace to the world. I doubt Shlomo personally would have approved of this project. I saw “Soul Doctor” in Florida and invited several friends who did not know Shlomo. They enjoyed the play more than I did, but it had no impact other than a few hours of entertainment.
A free multimedia event with Shlomo’s niggunim interspersed with teachings on important subjects such as peace, women, Torah, being a parent, a Jew, etc held all over the world, in various places such as in South Africa, Israel, America and even Europe would be more of what Shlomo would have wanted and could do so much good. It would reach so many more people, Jews, and non-Jews.
I am in Israel now. There is such a divide between the Religious community and the beautiful secular Jews. Reb Shlomo’s music and teachings can provide a bridge and help heal the divisiveness.
Let’s reach beyond, do something meaningful and larger, that would do honor to Reb Shlomo’s Legacy. Many of us would not have found our way into the depths of Torah without Shlomo. Let us share what brought us into Torah, what connected us to HaShem and let us spread Reb’s Shlomo’s light.”
So, it is my hope that by seeing the show, you will be inspired by a new vision of what it means to be a more connected Jew. Here is the link to order Tickets https://goo.gl/JM6JGy
Od Avina Hai
This movie, entitled “Od Avinu Hai”, was produced by Shaul Mayzlish and first shown on Feb. 16, 2015, at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Since then, it has been aired in many places.
Shaul Mayzlish grew up in Petah Tikva. After studying at Yeshivat Nehalim, he served in the IDF as a war correspondent. He was a writer for the newspaper, Hatzofeh, and a reporter for several Jewish religious programs on television. He was the first director of the Religious radio station, Kol Chai, and currently serves as a co-host on Army Radio.
Those interviewed were (in order of appearance): Hanan Yovel, Neila Carlebach, Dov Elbaum, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, Eleonara Shifrin, Yitzhak Zonneshtein, Rabbi Uzi Schwietze, Ben Tzion Solomon, Dr. Avi Becker, Dr. Yosi Hayut, Ehud Banai, Elazar Sturm, Yehuda Wasserman, Leah and Michael Golomb, Nedara Carlebach
This Movie showcases Reb Shlomo’s broad impact
What is a story that never ends?
Put simply – our actions have consequences. Our good deeds have an effect that is beyond time.Our kind words can change a person and that can affect generations after generations.
What is a story?
A story touches our imagination. It touches our insides. It is an inspiration. It can be a life changing event. It takes you to another place or time. A powerful story has the power to transform.
One of the most powerful story tellers of the last century was Reb Shlomo Carlebach.
The website blog will take your on a journey. There will be blogs about the powerful stories that never end, about the growing influence of the use of Music to connect People to their souls.
This phenomenon was started and inspired by the Dancing Rabbi – Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. However, as we will see, Reb Shlomo, as he was known to followers, was more than just a singing or dancing Rabbi.
Reb Shlomo himself became the story that never ends.
Reb Shlomo used stories as a way to inspire and connect people with their souls. Reb Shlomo not only retold stories, but he became the master of the “never-ending” story. He became part of our story.
The Broadway Show, the “Soul Doctor” takes us on an odyssey through the triumphs of a cultural phenomenon, – Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. His music inspired millions of people around the world.
Our featured story – Niggun for Broken Hearts, Shimon Breitkopf is a prime example of this. This is followed up with a sequel showcasing how stories never end.
We would like you to share your Shlomo Story? How you met Shlomo? How your story made you a more connected person? How your story is a never-ending journey. Please share your story by sending it to email@example.com
Let us go and inspire the world with our never-ending stories.
What is the power of this Music?
Shlomo Carlebach’s Legacy is uniting the Jewish people more & more every year — through his Torah and melodies, through prayer and action. This UNITY and his message of Ahavat Yisrael – unconditional love of every Jew and Person is needed more than ever today.
The whole world is singing Shlomo melodies – Shlomo’s melodies are everywhere – at the Kotel, on Erev Shabbat at shuls all around the world, at Simchas, Weddings. Anywhere where Jews are trying to get closer to Hashem through music.
For a view of this, please have at look at this tribute by a Conservative Temple in the US https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z26mmOkm-TQ#t=187
To a lot of people – this is just inspirational Music…They do not know there is another world to Shlomo – and that is his Torah, his message of the deeper connections to Shabbat and Prayer. The closeness to Hashem, his love for every Jew, his love for Jerusalem, for Israel & for the holy soldier. The list is endless. He was passionate about so many important issues.
So what was unique about Reb Shlomo Carlebach? Reb Shlomo was a Gate Opener.
Gates – Shlomo opened many gates, and even now his music, his Torah teachings, and stories are still opening many gates. Some obvious examples: bringing in Shabbat with joy, a love of Israel and Jerusalem, a love of the Jewish people – the list goes on. Another is the use of guitars in Jewish services and events which are used across the spectrum of Jewish observance to inspire Jews worldwide.
Music – Shlomo’s music is so much part of mainstream Jewish music that is impossible to identify it. In fact, when inquiries were made about collecting royalties, his melodies were identified as National Music, as a National Treasure.
Jewish Education & inspiration – Shlomo opened a new spiritual path that combines Judaism with its spiritual and creative side. As a result, we have three generations of teachers leading this. These soul doctors include environmentalists, artists, and musicians combining their talents with Torah & Jewish mysticism. Other examples include Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo in Jerusalem, The House of Love and Prayer in Safed, or the numerous Carlebach Friday night services which are havens for those seeking a closer connection to God through Judaism.
Jewish caring – social awareness – enhancing the rights of women. There is so much to write about here. Shlomo opened so many gates. In fact, a new book is in planning, written by women showing Shlomo’s contributions in this area.
For further Inspiration, the weekly Parsha Blog and more about the contributions of Reb Shlomo – see www.shlomofriends.com
To coincide with the show “SouI Doctor”, I will be presenting a series of articles/blogs as follows :
- Detailed Blog – on the Shlomo impact – history and current Soul Doctors in Israel.
- An article on the comparison of Reb Shlomo and the Baal Shem Tov
- Kabbalat Shabbat Blog to co-coincide with the Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday 15th June at 11am
- Shlomo’s Involvement with Russian Jewry and the 2nd generation impact – also contributing will be Miriam Drori who runs the “House of Love and Prayer” in Sefad. She is the daughter of Refuseniks who had a deep connection with Shlomo.
- The vision of the “House of Love and Prayer” as a model for the Jewish Future.
- Article on the US Chevra which include many Female Rabbis and Leaders. This highlights the diversity of Reb Shlomo’s message.
Additional References/ Materials:
Aaron Razel – Letter to Shlomo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHG2vAmfoS4
Other Sites dedicated to Shlomo are: