Carlebach’s Contribution

Carlebach’s Contribution

To one who davened, learned and sang with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for two decades, Ted Merwin’s story inspired by the musical “Soul Doctor” — which he inexcusably adulterated with a tangential discussion of ugly accusations about Rabbi Carlebach made by a handful of women years after his death — was bizarrely out of focus when it was not simply bizarre (“Carlebach’s Burning Desire To Heal,” Aug. 9).

Merwin quotes Rabbi Sam Intrator — who couldn’t possibly have said this — as remarking that Rabbi Carlebach never led services in his shul; he in fact led services hundreds of times, at many of which I was privileged to be present.

The filmmaker Menachem Daum described Rabbi Carlebach to me as an “imperfect master.” That he was, which enabled him to be a healing presence for thousands of imperfect, flawed, broken women and men (myself included), and to inspire countless numbers of Jewish men and women to find sparks of light and holiness within themselves, thence to follow myriad paths of Jewish service and searching: from Orthodox communities in Israel to Renewal communities in California; from traditional and untraditional yeshiva teaching to vocations — including among women — of rabbi, cantor, teacher, and composer of new Jewish music.  And, of course, Rabbi Carlebach himself got the whole world singing, helping thereby to heal all of post-Holocaust Jewry.

“For you who revere My Name,” says the prophet Malachi, “a sun of righteousness will arise with healing in its wings.” In a world of so much darkness, can we not allow a sun to shine without eclipsing it with reminders of all our darker selves?

Fresh Meadows, Queens


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