Carlebach Remembered on His 26th Yahrzeit

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By The Jerusalem Post

We could all do with an injection of joy and light these days, something with which, for many, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was synonymous.

The feel-good factor will be front and center at a musical gathering Saturday evening when a bunch of acts join forces for the online Reb Shlomo’s Kumzitz.

The get-together marks the 26th yahrzeit of Carlebach’s death and is organized by Yehudah Katz, a leading figure of the Jewish spiritual rock scene here since he made aliyah from the States nearly three decades ago now.

Katz, now 69, first encountered Carlebach in Florida almost half a century ago, and has put together numerous similarly oriented shows over the years, and this time round has enlisted a bunch of like-minded artists, including Chizki Sofer, Chaim David Saracik, The Solomon Brothers and the Kotler Brothers. Katz is also on the bill, together with his Hamaagal band, with Rafi Kaplan keeping the virtual show on the road as MC.

Katz feels that, while the late feted troubadour may be physically gone, his spiritual and musical presence is still very much with us.

“Reb Shlomo is more alive than ever,” he says. “There are so many people studying his teachings, sharing his teachings and uncovering new songs.”

Considering the devotion and sense of community Carlebach generated among his followers and listeners, it is hard to believe that there is still much in the way of unheard material out there waiting to be unearthed. But, according to guitarist-vocalist Katz, there are plenty of recordings – albeit not too professional – still coming out of the woodwork.

“There are all these home cassette tapes [of Carlebach singing]. Shlomo, over the years, probably did many, many more home sessions, with maybe 50-100 people, than anything else.” Which, naturally, meant that someone among the faithful was sure to whip out some recording device or other, to document the sonic proceedings which always featured some significant musical content.

“His hevra – as he called us – were always sure that someone was recording it,” Katz says, adding that it is not only he and his contemporaries, those who experienced Carlebach’s magnetism firsthand, that are determined to keep the singing rabbi’s musical legacy burning long and bright. “There are thousands of bootleg tapes around of Shlomo, and there are all these young people who, over the years, go crazy over finding [recordings of Carlebach] songs.”

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