The Shabbat Project and the Man behind the Music

The Shabbat Project was introduced in South Africa in 2013 to quite astonishing effect. On the Shabbat over which it ran, close to 70 percent of the country’s 75,000 Jews kept Shabbat in full, most for the first time in their lives. Perhaps more significantly, the initiative drew people together in ways never seen before.

In the aftermath, many wrote in from around the world, wanting to bring the initiative to their own cities and communities. And so, the international Shabbat Project was born.

This year Shabbat Project will be on Parsha Lech Lecha on 24 October,Shabbat Project

The concept is simple: Jews of all walks of life, from across the spectrum — religious, secular and traditional; young and old, from all corners of the world — uniting to experience one full Shabbat together, in full accordance with Jewish law.

One of the main common threads about the Shabbat Project  was the music. We heard the phrases Carlebach Friday night, special Havdala etc…

Across the rainbow of the Jewish world from reform to chareidi there was one main unifying factor. This was one inspired by the special soulful melodies of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

It was not only the soulfoul melodies of Reb Shlomo, but also his love for Shabbat. Reb Shlomo used to sing and talk passionately about Shabbat. One example is the song ‘The whole world is singing the song of shabess’. How true is this of the international Shabbat Project? Without thinking about it, the Shabbat Project in its success has made these holy words come true. Another example, Reb Shlomo who was the originator of the Shabbaton a concept to get people connected to Shabbat through music and joy.This model was adopted by the NCYS and other outreach organisations and is on full display every Friday night at the Kotel.

Reb Shlomo who was known for his incredible Ahavat Yisrael — his love of every Jew. Reb Shlomo had a deep and special longing for the beauty of Shabbat and this he inspired to his followers.

Therefore, the hidden success of the Shabbat Project owes its success to the seeds that Reb Shlomo planted and nurtured to his followers — his chevra. We have a big debt of gratitude to him.

So who was the man behind the music? Who was Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach? Why after 20 years after his death is his music so wide reaching and his influence and teachings growing?

While the world knows his music, they probably do not know the man behind the music.

What is the power of this music …?

Shlomo Carlebach’s Legacy is uniting the Jewish people more and more every year — through his Torahs 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 closer to Hashem through music..

But to a lot of people — these are just niggunim…They do not know there is another world to Shlomo — that is his Torah, his message of the deeper connections to Shabbat, davenning , closeness to  Hashem, his love for every Jew, Jerusalem, Israel and the holy soldier . The list is endless. He was passionate about so many important issues.

His aptitude for Torah study was recognized by great Torah scholars and teachers, among them Rabbi Shlomo Heiman, and the Rosh Yeshiva of Bais Medrash Gevoha, Rabbi Aharon Kotler.

He was considered one of the top students of Rabbi Kotler.  Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, who gave Reb Shlomo semikha, considered it a loss to the Torah world that he chose a career in musical Jewish outreach over one as a scholar and teacher.

During his yeshiva studies he was often asked to lead the services as a chazzan. Reb Shlomo became a disciple of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

From 1951 – 1954, he worked as one of the first emissaries (shluchim) of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe  who urged him to use his special skills and go to college campuses to reconnect Jews to Judaism

This was the start of his lifelong mission of bringing back thousands of Jews to a deeper sense of connection to the Heritage.

He used his strong base of Torah and merged with the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov — Ahavat Yisrael. He synthesized the different Torah streams of Lithuanian Torah, Chassidic passion, Rav Nachman’s Emuna and Rav Kook’s love and belief in the people of Israel into one beautiful tapestry and song.

For those who have dug deeper — may have discovered his Art of the Story Telling, His Torah, His deep love of every Jew no matter how far one has strayed…

If you are interested in becoming inspired, please join us on Wednesday the 28th October  16 Marcheshvan  for Reb Shlomo  21st Yartzeit Concert at the Cultural Center Hevel Modi’in, in Airport City.

For More Information : http://www.shlomocarlebachfoundation.org/

About the Author
Jeffrey is a Blogger, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist (we can only dream) living in Jerusalem. He has five kids and three grandchildren. He is looking to spread the message of Ahavat Yisrael and Jewish Unity through the music and teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and connecting our lost Jewish brothers and sisters to Israel. God and themselves.
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