Shabbat dinner with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach usually involved at least 50 people, maybe many more, according to his daughter, the singer Neshama Carlebach. It was Reb Shlomo’s custom to make kiddush and then pass around his wine, even if symbolically, to make sure that everyone had even a drop of the sanctified wine.
On January 14th, on what would have been his 88th birthday, in the year of his 18th yahrzeit, a silver Kiddush cup created to honor his memory and his Shabbat tradition will be released.
The “cup of love and prayer,” designed and created by Jonathan Greenstein, who heads an antique and Judaica gallery in Cedarhurst, together with Neshama Carlebach, has a rounded bottom, to fit in the palm of a hand. Greenstein, who describes himself as a “Shlomo chassid forever,” explains that the goblet was inspired by the distinctive way Reb Shlomo would hold a kiddush cup, cupping his right hand around the bottom. Some say this is the traditional way to hold it for the ritual
“I remember that there was silence when he would say kiddush. Everything would stop, all the bustle around him,” Neshama Carlebach recalls. “It was a moment to be shared.”
“He wasn’t able to give physically from his cup to every person, hand to hand, but that was his intention, to give everybody that drop that they needed.”
She hopes that when people use the newly-designed cup, they’ll pass it, and perhaps make eye contact or touch hands with people around them, that “people will have a moment with another.”
Reb Shlomo was known to value the spiritual over the material. Neshama Carlebach says they have a kiddush cup from his family, but he was not attached to things. Since they traveled so much for Shabbat, he might have been making kiddush out of a Styrofoam cup, but he still held it that same way.
“He made a Styrofoam cup look like it was made of silver and gold,” she says.
“The cup of love and prayer,” named for the shul he founded in San Francisco in the 1960s, is handmade in a limited edition, with a list price of $2500. For the table, the cup sits in a wooden base, made of maple.
At the gallery celebration, several new previously unreleased recordings of his music will be available, from Sojourn Records.
The celebration at J. Greenstein Cedarhurst Gallery is open to the public, 417 Central Avenue, Cedarhurst, on Monday, January 14th, from 8 to 10 pm.