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Havdalah At The Carlebach Shul

Havdalah At The Carlebach Shul

Rabbi Naftali Citron, who grew up as a follower of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, has fond memories of the singer-composer leading the Havdalah service that marks the end of Shabbat. “He was at the most perfect pitch for the Havdalah,” says Rabbi Citron, who now serves as spiritual leader of The Carlebach Shul on the Upper West Side.

Photo by Michael Datikash

Rabbi Citron, below, says he leads Havdalah in the spirit of his mentor.

After Maariv, a few dozen worshippers gather in the back of the sanctuary for the blessings and cup of grape juice, sniffing the spice box and holding their hands up to the flames of a Havdalah candle. And, of course, the songs.

“I use the same niggunim,” the melodies written by Rabbi Carlebach, Rabbi Citron says.

The lights are turned down for Havdalah, and the ceremony takes 10 to 15 minutes, considerably longer than the standard minute or two at most congregations. “If you’re in a rush, it’s a little long.”

One recent Saturday night, musician Mo Kiss, holding the guitar above, led the singing.

A Carlebach Havdalah is still a draw. People still come from as far away as Brooklyn for Havdalah, which usually starts about an hour after Shabbat ends.

In most respects, Havdalah at The Carlebach Shul follows the style set by Rabbi Carlebach. But Rabbi Citron does not mix words of Torah into the Havdalah service, as Rabbi Carlebach, a noted scholar, did in his Talmudic sing-song. “I don’t feel I’m at his level,” Rabbi Citron says.

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