For Neshama Carlebach, the fact that Carlebach-style minyanim continue to thrive nearly 20 years after the death of her singer-songwriter father, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, serves as both testament and celebration of his life’s work.
“My father allowed people to connect with God and each other through music and song,” says the 37-year-old singer and actress, who launched her own career at the age of 15, shortly after the prolific Jewish song composer’s passing in 1994. “His style of minyan and prayer still serve as a catalyst, a vessel, through which people become self-aware and connect to their Judaism.”
There is no formal accounting of the number of Carlebach prayer groups (minyanim) currently in existence; however, Neshama, who performs more than 100 live concerts each year, believes there is at least one in every major city in the world.
That includes Bergen County, where there are three known Carlebach minyanim currently in operation.
“It is a haimish celebration of everything Shlomo personified – niggina, everything through song – and a certain acceptance, warmth, and friendliness,” says Zalmen Mlotek, a regular participant of the Carlebach Minyan of Teaneck, and artistic director of the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene in New York City. “The singing is really about davening through singing. All my life, I’ve been making music; now I’ve found a wonderful way to synthesize the two.”
Nearly 50 men and women attend the Shabbat minyan, which is held at a private home in Teaneck. Once a month, there is a joint Shabbaton with members at the Jewish Center of Teaneck. The Carlebach Minyan, founded nearly eight years ago, also hosts annual High Holy Days services, an occasional potluck lunch, and other special events.
Since 2005, some 30 men and women gather each week in local homes for the Passaic/Clifton Carlebach Minyan, led by Rabbi Reuven Sarett.
The minyan offers participants a chasidic approach to prayer without changing the liturgy, Sarett says. “Shlomo brought into the world a deep spirituality, something that evokes unity and love and helps us connect as Jews,” he says. “His tunes give us a different way of connecting through dance and singing.”
A new Carlebach minyan was recently formed in Bergenfield at Congregation Beth Abraham, says Daniel Kaminetsky, a founding member. “We were looking for a way to enhance the spirituality of our davening,” he says, adding that the synagogue’s assistant rabbi, Tanchum Cohen, and member Josh Gelernter spearheaded the Carlebach format, which is punctuated by spirited singing.
Nearly 60 people participated in the first effort, says Kaminetsky. “I was surprised how into it everybody was from the very first time; the communal participation was very meaningful.”
|Where to find a Carlebach minyan|
|Carlebach Minyan of Teaneck
95 Edgemont Place, Teaneck
Meets for Friday evening services
Passaic/Clifton Carlebach Minyan
226 Van Houten, in Passaic
This minyan is hosted by the Kupferman family. However, on the Shabbat before the beginning of a new Jewish month, the minyan is held at the home of the Schwadrons, 300 Pennington/corner of Van Houten. Contact: email@example.com
Yahoogroups Carlebach Passaic
Carlebach Minyan at Bergenfield’s
396 New Bridge Road in Bergenfield
Meets every six weeks at Beth Abraham (not in summer months)
Dates and times posted on Teaneck Shuls