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September 04, 2011

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach - Rabbi Of Love Or Undercover Agent Of Orthodox Judaism?

Shlomo Carlebach He was larger than life, and since his death, Jews running the full religious and political spectrum have continued debating the true nature and beliefs of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach; a new memoir places him among the hippies, but in truth he didn’t fully belong to anyone.

Shlomo Carlebach
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

Shlomo Carlebach - rabbi of love or undercover agent of Orthodox Judaism?
He was larger than life, and since his death, Jews running the full religious and political spectrum have continued debating the true nature and beliefs of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach; a new memoir places him among the hippies, but in truth he didn’t fully belong to anyone.
By Shefa Siegel • Ha’aretz

Holy Beggars:
A Journey from Haight Street to Jerusalem, by Aryae Coopersmith
One World Lights, 414 pages, $18 ‏(paperback‏)

Was Shlomo Carlebach a patchouli-scented hipster bard of universal love, or a deviant preacher disguised in beads and sandals on a mission to return Jewish hippies to ultra-Orthodox Judaism? This question has dogged the memory of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach ‏(1925-1994‏) since his death nearly 20 years ago, muddling a profound and beautiful spiritual legacy rooted less in denomination than friendship.

A new memoir called “Holy Beggars,” by Aryae Coopersmith, chronicles Carlebach’s San Francisco collective, the House of Love & Prayer, and his community of hippies from 1968 to 1972. Coopersmith is a Silicon Valley professional who met Carlebach in San Francisco in the mid-1960s when the Singing Rabbi, as Shlomo was known in folk music venues, was playing college campuses. Coopersmith signed the lease for the first house for Carlebach and his friends − the hevre as Shlomo called them − in 1968, and often pastored during Carlebach’s absences from San Francisco. He left the House, and parted ways with Carlebach, in 1972, seeing him only sporadically during the last 20 years of Shlomo’s life.

After his teacher’s death, 17 years ago, Coopersmith was advised to find a way to honor Shlomo’s influence on him by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a peer and friend of Carlebach’s from their days in the court of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn. The memoir is principally about Coopersmith’s own personal development from student-hippie to Shlomo devotee, his departure from the hevre to study psychology and find a profession, and his final encounter with Carlebach in New York.

But it is hard to read the book without also viewing it as a responsum to other portrayals of Carlebach as a reactionary hero mingling with liberal, secular and interdenominational impurity to rescue lost Jewish souls. Coopersmith’s call from the left of the religious-cultural spectrum − “Not true: Shlomo was one of us!” − successfully locates Carlebach inside the counterculture of the 1960s, yet this portrayal remains as fraught as any Orthodox, right wing, or settler claim on his legacy.

The tug-of-war between Reb Shlomo’s progressive and Orthodox factions of followers is fruitless. No group can claim exclusivity over his legacy. As Coopersmith and others before him have reported, the funeral for Carlebach at his family’s Upper West Side shul attracted 5,000-7,000 people, filling 79th Street with hippies, black hats, the homeless, and academics. Later, at the burial outside Jerusalem, the crowd was similarly diverse; there, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Yisrael Meir Lau, apologized for marginalizing Carlebach during his life, so that by the time he died, it could be said that everybody claimed Shlomo as one of their own. Together with Schachter-Shalomi, Carlebach was dispatched in the 1950s by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to meet Jewish students on college campuses. Both eventually left Chabad, Zalman to bridge Jewish mysticism and the New Age movement, Shlomo to an international life of singing and preaching. Carlebach composed an outrageous volume of melodies, probably in the thousands, both reviving and exporting a tradition of Jewish spirituals that was nearly wiped out during the war. The melodies he sang in concerts, were also essential to his mastery of ecstatic communal prayer, which integrated chanting, dancing, and stream-of-consciousness preaching. To create this form, Carlebach borrowed from numerous hasidic traditions, and from the practices of Baptist ministers and choirs he admired in Harlem. Under the right conditions, the combination of these rituals could induce a high similar to that of hallucinogens, and left a person feeling a lot of love for other people.

I never heard Shlomo call himself a rebbe. To the extent he accepted the role, it was the rebbe as a good friend. When he said you should phone him, he meant it. He was in your corner. He bailed friends out of prison, emptied his pockets to strangers, played his guitar by the docks for the down-and-out. “I’ve had people give me things,” said a homeless man who came to Carlebach’s funeral in Manhattan. “But I never had anybody make me feel like a man before.”

Once, when I hitched a ride to New York to be with him, Shlomo asked, “Are you making friends in the hevre?” Without really understanding the question, I told him I had recently moved to Ann Arbor, where I did not know many people. “Ann Arbor!” he cried energetically. “I’ve got my Top Guy there!”

Friendship quickened Shlomo’s spiritualism. “If you’re my greatest friend in the world,” Coopersmith quotes Carlebach, “do you think I’m worrying about how kosher you are? The only thing that matters is that we’re friends. Being friends, loving another person, is the deepest thing there is.”

The last time I saw Shlomo was two months before his death, a hot night on the porch in Israel. There was a crowd of maybe 10 or 15 people milling about in a loose circle. I was 20. He held my hand, and asked about my plans. I was leaving for two months to study ecology in Nepal. “You know there is Chabad in Kathmandu,” he quipped, grinning. He started to laugh. “Do you know that when Columbus discovered America, he found that Chabad was already there?”

Shlomo turned his attention to the circle, gesturing to me. “Do you know I have known him since he was a baby?” he asked, as if I were the most important person in his world. It was true: My parents knew him when they were in their 20s; by the time I was a year old they were bringing him to where my father was a rabbi in the Pacific Northwest and later in New Hampshire. But in 20 years, I could not have been near Shlomo for more than 10 days; the notion of these 10 days being as meaningful to him as any his life was intoxicating. Shlomo placed his hand gently on the back of my head, putting his lips to my cheek. “Don’t give up,” he whispered. “Don’t ever give up.”

‘Top guys’

Carlebach was a person who required what journalists sometimes call fixers. He called them his “Top Guys.” When asked where he lived, Carlebach liked to joke that he lived in the airport. He was forever traveling: leading communities in New York and Israel, giving concerts from Portland to Morocco, singing and praying with Jews and Gentiles in Poland and Russia. This kind of international work requires local organizing, for which Carlebach relied on his Top Guys. Because Carlebach had no fixed address or affiliation, their stories are important portals into his different experiences.

During a formative period for Carlebach, when he was active in San Francisco, Coopersmith was a Top Guy. Carlebach enjoyed this time; he talked about it for the rest of his life. It had to have been fun to headline concerts with Pete Seeger and preach alongside Swami Satchidananda − Yoga Master to the Stars. For a man with so much love, the center of free love was a blast.

Coopersmith’s run as fixer was brief and limited to San Francisco, a place Carlebach ranked below only Jerusalem among his favorite spiritual cities. In 1971, Shlomo squeezed enough money from a small group of investors to finance a new House of Love & Prayer for the Holy Beggars − as the San Francisco hevre were called − which the group wanted to make into a yeshiva. In addition to bringing the financiers, Carlebach promised his time. But after verbally contracting with Coopersmith to spend three to four months per year at the House, Carlebach did not return to San Francisco for four months.

Of course, as much as Shlomo’s attachments were away from his hippies, the same goes for all his groups. Whether Shlomo was more hippie than Orthodox, or vice-versa, is neither here nor there. He had fixers and friends all over; devotees in, say, Tel Aviv or Marseille did not necessarily know their counterparts in Ashland or Washington. He could have hippie followers in one town, Reform Jewish acolytes in another, and Orthodox adherents in a third, and their paths would never cross. To understand how Carlebach viewed the world, the story most needed is a chronicle of his travels.

Carlebach’s capacity to connect intimately with each person made you feel as if you were his best friend. If you confided something to him, he remembered it if you crossed paths three years later. When he entered a restaurant in an unfamiliar place, he greeted each customer and employee, and might go to the kitchen to greet the chef, too. People were instantly charmed. He would talk to everybody.

And he could talk with anybody. Micha Odenheimer, a writer in Jerusalem, and also a Top Guy, told me about a time Carlebach was teaching when a man stood up and issued a long, pained, animalistic howl. Finally Shlomo raised his hand, saying, “I know. Moishe, I mamesh know. But could you just wait until after the bentschen?” Moishe stared at Shlomo, nodded his head agreeably, took his seat.

It was great to be in Shlomo’s gang. Shlomo was a rebel. He was disappointed that he wasn’t asked to greet Anwar Sadat on the tarmac in Israel in 1977, singing and dancing the Egyptian leader directly to the Western Wall. Shlomo was fun! He partied in the park late at night, making so much noise the neighbors slammed their windows shut. The excuse for a party? The moon needed blessing. The moon! Religion masked as fun, or the other way around? Who cares? Neither your background nor learning mattered. Why should it? Everybody can love the moon. If you can’t, you’re dead inside.

His best friend

Coopersmith was indeed close to Carlebach: traveling in Mexico with him, playing concerts, at the House. From these experiences he offers several new stories:

Shlomo lying about the neophyte Aryae being a rabbi when he dispatched him to lead Shabbat services for an Orthodox youth group.

The ecumenical gathering where Carlebach swung all the way left by telling attendees they were not taking different paths to the same destination, they were on “the same path” wearing “different shoes.”

The time Shlomo talked all night with Latina prostitutes in Mexico City.

There are also old stories that merit repeating. The 27-mile Friday night rain-soaked trek from the spot on the Los Angeles freeway where Shlomo’s ride from the airport was stuck in traffic, to the Reform synagogue − stopping at Denny’s for tuna sandwiches and coffee − where hundreds waited through the night for him to arrive.

Finally, there are thoughtful insights about the effect of Carlebach’s transience on young people who wanted to be his disciples, and about his own loneliness.

But where Coopersmith implies the book will be a tell-all, there are no surprising
revelations about Carlebach’s sexual activity: just a couple of affairs in the 1960s, when he was in his 30s and unmarried.

Instead, the book’s greatest surprise is just how few scenes include Shlomo Carlebach. Coopersmith’s recollections are like a slideshow: Shlomo is glimpsed but there is no portrait. He still feels like a puckish caricature − part Pied Piper, part Sinatra − peddling in to drop a Torah bomb, slipping off to the next concert.

There are also places where Coopersmith is simply wrong. He is emphatic that Carlebach never took LSD, telling a friend, “He wasn’t taking any drugs. ... No, never; he wasn’t into it.” Yet, there are recordings of Shlomo telling about his friendship with Timothy Leary; when Leary informed Carlebach he liked to listen to his music while tripping, Shlomo told Leary he had tried his acid and it was gewalt, but it did not compare to learning Talmud.
Carlebach’s enjoyment of acid is an otherwise unimpressive fine point of hippie lore, except that here it casts some doubt on the strength of the relationship between Coopersmith and Shlomo. LSD mattered, a lot, to the hippies of that period. It’s hard to figure how Coopersmith could be unaware of his teacher’s trips.

The band leader was gone

The takeover of Shlomo started directly after his death. There was a memorial concert in a dingy hall somewhere in Jerusalem, two or three months after Shlomo died. The musicians were sharing the stage. A nice idea, except each had a different Shlomo imitation. They couldn’t get a jam going. Between songs, people preached, two and three at time, competing. The band leader was gone. It was chaos.

After an hour or so, the aggressive male element in the hall seized power, singing like sailors in a religious nationalist mosh pit. I stood in the back of the room, feeling like I was on the outside looking in, staring at the end of something.

At dinner another night, the 9-year-old son of one devotee declared his intention to gut Yasser Arafat with a blade, if ever he met him. Later: Praise for the gunman who opened fire in a Franciscan church in Jerusalem.

When a young woman who had not known him asked me if I thought Shlomo shared these views, I told her the Shlomo I knew bathed naked with his friends in the mineral waters of Cougar Hot Springs east of Eugene. The image pleased her, but she refused to believe it had happened. “It’s Oregon,” I said, to no effect. “Everybody bathes naked.”

The right hand of Carlebach’s worlds didn’t know what the left was doing. Carlebach played Bnei Brak, yes, but he also sang till dawn at bonfires on the beach. There was a West Bank Shlomo, absolutely, but there was also the Northwest Shlomo visiting friendship centers − havurot − from Humboldt to Vancouver. Without fussing, he ate in our restaurants, made matzah in our homes, davened in our egalitarian synagogues, shared stages with women, bathed naked in our streams. The notion that he was cavorting with hippies as a kind of descent-for-sake-of-ascent is grotesque.

In the spirit of this polemic, Coopersmith’s book is valuable. To anybody who cannot accept that Carlebach’s interests were diverse: Enough. Just as the hippies moved on from Haight-Ashbury to live in communes, start spiritual communities, or cut their hair and get jobs, Shlomo’s devotees went numerous directions.

Yet there is so much more than this bric-a-brac of right and left. Carlebach’s influence cuts across the Jewish world, wide and deep, even if the imprint is sometimes hard, or not always what we want, to see. What he experienced, however, remains unexamined. We know next to nothing about Carlebach’s transformation from a seminary scholar to Hasidic emissary to singing and dancing his way around the world. This story cannot be remembered by any single fixer or follower. Shlomo Carlebach traveled alone, from the origin to the end of his adventures.

Dr. Shefa Siegel is an environmental writer. He teaches environment thought, and has worked as an adviser to the United Nations and other international organizations.

Comments

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Shlomo will always remain somewhat of a mystery to me. Enjoy his music!

I don't believe Shlomo ever took LSD. He had a very weak stomach,and to drink wine or beer was hard enough for him.
Shlomo believed that everybody in the world had the right and ability to be joyous. He felt that joy would only come about through love and peace, and he was well aware of his talents and abilities. His public displays of affection to everyone, from the drugged to the grotesquely obese, was a turn off to some, especially women, who felt that he singled them out to make love. whether he did or didn't nobody will know; but that's what happened.
Shlomo's style was an evolution between 1951, the begining of his career, until around 1985, when he tired out. If you were to tell him in 1955 or 60 that he would kiss women publicly, he woul6d shudder, no doubt. But around 1965-7, he embrace hippie culture and changed his way of relating to people.
Shlomo was in NO WAY a believer in Haredi or ultra orthodox lifestyle. He was a believer in spirituality; he tried to dissuade people from drugs and alchohol. I don't even see where Shmarya sees that in the article.

Shlomo was in NO WAY a believer in Haredi or ultra orthodox lifestyle. He was a believer in spirituality; he tried to dissuade people from drugs and alchohol. I don't even see where Shmarya sees that in the article.

He was just a mentsch.

He was himself.

More than can be said for many of those who attempt to analyze and figure him out.

He was just Shlomo, take it or leave it, full of apparent contradictions and also very sincere in his way.

He was a very sexual man and always smelled nice.

Once you dig Shlomo it is nearly impossible to appreciate the losers of nowadays who have no inkling what songs from the soul is all about. I no longer attend weddings for precisely that reason. Noise pollution is what I call the 'music' of Lipa and company.

@Yechiel,

"Like."

@Son of Shneer,

well put

shlomo was a holy man whom we all miss dearly

Sohn of schneer:
I could not have said it better.

About the LSD debate:
Songs like Lord get me high and Kumbaya get me thinking...

@Yechiel,

Lord Get Me high was not composed by Shlomo. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL-gpu3htHo


And Kumbaya is an ancient Negro - Spiritual.

An important player in the development of Jewish music.

May he rest in peace!

He was the only talented musician who played "Jewish music" I've ever heard.

Every other musician that I've heard who plays "Jewish music" sounds the same as every other one. No originality, no creativity, nothing. Not that this is so terrible, but it's not so great either.

The kumbaya thing I knew... Lord get me high, I didn't know wasn't Shlomo's. Regardless, it is irrelevant to my point. The fact that he sang theses songs is what triggered my suspicions.
That aside, I enjoy his great compositions (and terrible guitar accompaniment) to this very day. An acquaintance of mine claims that 'olam habba' is a gemara, a cinnamon danish and a Coke on the side and Shlomo's music in the background...
I sure hope he's right about the Shlomo's music part.

Some Jewish wedding singers are very good.

I love his music and it sustained me during my faith crisis. I really feel that if there is a God, He's in Shlomo's music. On the other hand, I am disturbed by the allegations of sexual impropriety and sexual abuse. Are these things true, or not?

YES, THEY ARE TRUE.
but who are we to judge him?

Abuse? Please provide details.

Some women made allegations in a misandrist publication called "Lilith" after he died and was unable to defend himself.

Oh my G-d! We can't label him. Whatever will we do?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What were the allegations?

I walked out of a concert of his because of how he behaved. To this day, while I'll suffer through someone else singing his music, I will not listen to it under any circumstances.

He was a weirdo, plain and simple. He did more damage than good.

Shlomo was a huge sexual predator and the women who came forward right before he died to confront him and then after his petira were all told to forgive him and get on with their lives or leave the chevra.

He was quote a 'holy man.'

So they were forced out for the most part and victimized again.

He started his predation out in summer camps humping and coming on trees while talking to his little maidelach.

How everyone by- passes what he did to so many women is beyond me.

But he was like Muktananda and all the other religious types who prey on vulnerable women.

He could never carry on a personal conversation with anyone. He is no different than any other relgious sexual predator just had a stage to get his women.

We all give him a pass. It never bothers one shlomo person . It does not matter he raped women period. Makes me beyond sad and sick.

Start with Lillith magazine or New York Magazine

Just read the Lilith article. I am experiencing cognitive dissonance like never in my life. I love his music, but now I can also understand why Reb Moshe Feinstein wrote that one should refrain from listening to the music he wrote "leachar shechutu".
The Lilith article is also a great argument for why men and especially powerful charismatic leaders should adhere to the laws of yichud and certainly to be shomer negiah.

So sad. Really heartbreakingly sad.

He was at our home for Shabbos. My family (husband 2 children and I) loved having him. It was lovely, filled with songs and people who wanted to be near him. The problem started the next day when my husband was in Shull...trying to court me for years, by phone from different hotels. It made me feel bad. It was inappropriate. Some women from what I read later, did fall in the trap. He was doing this a lot. I think he was sick that way and yet so talented on the other hand.

Nameless going on record.

Consider that many tunes used in most Shules are from him. Musically, he is most inspiring Jewish singer. sort of like our Beatles. Sometimes when I am playing the guitar and not having much going on, I will just play soulful version of some of his tunes and I can keep at it for hours and get the level of Kedusha in the song that I am seeking. I saw him at age 6 and he took a liking to me alas, I only saw him one more time that is close in person but I didn't go over, it was at a health fair in NYC. I was a little turned off by i think i misinterpreted what he was saying to one of his followers who had a booth there. he said 'voos eh doos' which I thought was condescending but not I am thinking he was probably just kidding with her. So I am sorry I didn't say hello that would have been a couple of years before he passed away. If you have concerns about these sexual predator stuff, consider that he accomplished quite alot with his music, he was alone when he started completely no previous genre. and it is heresay what sort of evidence do you have?

Shlomo embraced and practiced the 1960s ideals of peace, love, and prayer in all its forms. Few people saw the complete Shlomo. What he did in public was not what he did in private.

I have known his followers and enemies.

Shlomo had and has good PR people. I remember when his music was banned by rabbis. Now it is sacred.

What do you mean hearsay??? It happened to me!I KNOW the women are telling the truth. He was inappropriate and sick... when it came to women. In my case, for years till I said that I am going to tell my husband unless he stops calling me.
My husband is a real nice guy and greatly admired his music. I tried to keep it from him so he will not be hurt. But... he couldn't understand why I never agreed to meet nor have him over again.

L'zchooto I'll end with a positive story. We bumped into him at Kennedy airport. My parent Aleyhem HaShalom, were leaving to Israel and I was so worried. They were glad to meet him. The following day, Mom called and told he was keeping an eye on them and kibbitzing with them the whole trip.
I think that describes him the best: A good person , greatly gifted with some issues.

Heck, I can't think of any great artist without 'issues'.
So Shlomo's music will continue to inspire me.

I think that the comments on this post says a lot about the readers of this blog. I can't understand why people are so forgiving of Shlomo Carlebach, and yet the same people would condemn, e.g. Mordechai Tendler. Shlomo Carlebach allegedly used his position to take advantage of many women, inclusing confused women, and women in difficult situations, including teenagers. Why is that any better than what Mordy Tendler did?

Posted by: Izzy | September 05, 2011 at 12:49 PM

The major differences between the two situations, I think, is that Shlomo did not present himself as a traditional Orthodox or hasidic rabbi while Tendler did – and still does.

Tendler allegedly did some very weird things with the women he allegedly seduced and coerced. Shlomo didn't.

And Tendler allegedly preyed on women who were extremely vulnerable and exploited his position and their vulnerability to get sex.

Shlomo seemed to go after females he found attractive, most of whom were not extremely vulnerable.

That doesn't in any way excuse what Shlomo allegedly did.

But the comparison of him to Tendler isn't a good one.

@Izzy, the fact that you can't see the difference between Carlebach and Mordechai Tendler shows that you suffer from serous dementia.
Carlebach was accused of rape after he died - but he has a legacy left over! Why didn't they sue them, or at least report what they did and take the foundations off the non profit roster? The claims are insubstatiated; angry or biased people, for the most part. Did he act innapropriately? I'm sure he did. Remember, he had many affairs during the sixties, and he became accostomed to free love, hippie style. His way of relating to people bothered some; ok. The accusations of child rape and rape are senseless.
Lilith is about as believable as People magazine.

If you have concerns about these sexual predator stuff, consider that he accomplished quite alot with his music ...

Posted by: Adams | September 05, 2011 at 08:06 AM

What?? If a person is a sexual predator, as Carlebach allegedly is, whatever good he may have done does not, in any way, minimize or excuse how he has violated others and the damage he has done to his victims. You and others who try to play down unscrupulous behavior need to stop thinking this way. A predator is a predator, period.

Shlomo didn't have the middle-class "morality" or frum "morality" either. He flirted with and had sex with those who took the bait. He also ate tuna sandwiches and coffee at Denny’s. From my understanding, Hashem doesn’t appreciate either of those activities. Someone whose home is the airport is likely lonely. Having been in his line of business for many decades, he was obviously addicted to the emotional high one gets from performing. He needed constant stimulation and excitement or would have fallen into depression. When not on stage he may have used the thrill of hitting on married women to keep things interesting.
As for B. Newman who claims that Shlomo came on to her while her husband was in shule … please explain this in more detail. From what I’ve read of Shlomo it seems to me that Carlebach would have been in Shule leading the services in whatever town he was in. How did it come to pass that Shlomo didn’t go to Shule, but stayed home to hit on you? Were his “top guy” and all the other fans not beating down the door, wondering where their star was, sick or something? I don’t doubt your testimony B Newman I need some more details.

Shlomo didn't have the middle-class "morality" or frum "morality" either. He flirted with and had sex with those who took the bait. He also ate tuna sandwiches and coffee at Denny’s. From my understanding, Hashem doesn’t appreciate either of those activities. Someone whose home is the airport is likely lonely. Having been in his line of business for many decades, he was obviously addicted to the emotional high one gets from performing. He needed constant stimulation and excitement or would have fallen into depression. When not on stage he may have used the thrill of hitting on married women to keep things interesting.
As for B. Newman who claims that Shlomo came on to her while her husband was in shule … please explain this in more detail. From what I’ve read of Shlomo it seems to me that Carlebach would have been in Shule leading the services in whatever town he was in. How did it come to pass that Shlomo didn’t go to Shule, but stayed home to hit on you? Were his “top guy” and all the other fans not beating down the door, wondering where their star was, sick or something? I don’t doubt your testimony B Newman I need some more details.


Posted by: Fleishike Kishke | September 05, 2011 at 02:43 PM

I was thinking the same,if everyone is in shul why is carlbach home with her? Newmans story is missing a piper

Shlomo didn't have the middle-class "morality" or frum "morality" either. He flirted with and had sex with those who took the bait. He also ate tuna sandwiches and coffee at Denny’s. From my understanding, Hashem doesn’t appreciate either of those activities. Someone whose home is the airport is likely lonely. Having been in his line of business for many decades, he was obviously addicted to the emotional high one gets from performing. He needed constant stimulation and excitement or would have fallen into depression. When not on stage he may have used the thrill of hitting on married women to keep things interesting.

Do you have any proof of this or is this the pontifacation of a three year old?

Q: You don't deserve a response, but essentially I based my comment on what I read in this article and other articles about Shlomo, on the allegations of women he allegedly hit on, on my readings of the Humash, my limited readings in Psychology, and finally speculation, (notice the word MAY in my final sentence). And I'm a novi.

Q.
Read the Lilith article. Im sorry but dry humping a 12 year old till he came in his pants is beyond disgraceful. Its criminal too. Although as Shmarya noted, shlomo never attempted to portray himself as a righteous right wing holier than thou rabbi, nevertheless, he clearly took advantage of his charisma and manipulated adoring women.

Here's a hypothetical to explain B. Newmans story.
perhaps shlomo stayed over Saturday night too and didn't go to shul on Sunday. Sunday was not his big day at the amud.

I read the Lilith article when it came out, and the details were too disturbing for me to ever engage in Carlebach hero-worship. I can appreciate the musical legacy, and am willing to go to the Carlebach shul when I'm in New York, but won't idolize the man.

Part of the reason that I took the Lilith article so seriously is precisely because it is a liberal, feminist Jewish magazine. The article clearly struggled with the fact that Carlebach was admired for his broad reach and willingness to forego strict Orthodox rules, but ultimately concluded that they had an obligation to report the truth accurately.

UHL:
How the hell would the girl know whether he came if it was dry-humping? And also, do you think the dry humping could be a figment of an imagination?
I'm NOT saying she was lying. Maybe he did dry hump her. I just think that these specific claims are insubstantiated.
Fleishig Kishke, you use infantile logic to make insubstantiated claims, so I will do the same.
You're a complete Putz.

Q
If you discount the testimony of a witness, how would you like substantiate a claim?

Q: Your God is my foot stool, your Rebbe is my toilet.

Or maybe, I'm questioning the validity of their claims. Read my previous comment again.

Q
You're insinuations with absolutely no proof are downright insulting to these women.

Ordered the book from Amazon and read most of it on a Shabbos afternoon a few weeks back while on vacation in Miami. Much more revealing of his followers than of Shlomo. Not much at all on Shlomo's transition / evolution from Lakewood and Chabad to Jewish new age singing sensation. Interesting how, with some exceptions, many of his followers seemed to struggle in later years with multiple wives (not all Jewish) and blended families. Most touching was the author's attempt to make sense of it all towards the end of the book speculating how it could have been different if only Shlomo had provided more direction (halachic and otherwise) to his devotees. IOW, The House of Love and Prayer might have been better off as The House of Love and Fear and Prayer. Love and Prayer alone didn't quite cut it. I've always been suspicious of charismatic kiruv which this candid account only reinforced. On a technical note, the binding split in half after the book was left open in the sun for about 15 minutes. Miami in the summer is hot, but not THAT hot. Buyer beware.

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