By Stephen E. Lipken
The 47th Annual Westchester Jewish Music and Arts Festival was held at Kensico Dam Plaza on August 20. The government officials present included Westchester County Executive George Latimer, NYS Senator Shelley Mayer, and NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
A wide variety of synagogues were represented, Chabad of Rivertowns offered instruction on how to wear Tefillin, and the Yonkers Police Department Chaplain, Rabbi Mendy Hurwitz, blew a Shofar in preparation for the High Holidays. Attendees were able to purchase jewelry and Jewish memorabilia from various vendors.
The Master of Ceremonies, Kenny Green, introduced the Levins to the stage, a harmony-driven folk duo, followed by Israeli Dancing with Leng. The WonderSpark Puppets, sponsored by PJ Library, performed in the tent. Other performers at the festival were the Liz Queler Band, Urban Garage, featured artist Neshama Carlebach, and juggler Ned Gelfars.
Lincoln Park Jewish Center Rabbi David Seebag welcomed everyone to the festival, noting that this was the first time their Shul was participating in the Festival. “It’s just wonderful to see Jews of every single denomination getting together, dancing, talking, learning, and eating.”
County Executive George Latimer commented, “It is a wonderful day,” and added, “The Jewish Heritage Festival taps a lot of different people, some with food, some with dance, some with music, all sorts of organizations . . . As I walk around, I get a sense of the extent of the Jewish community in Westchester and their tremendous contributions to this County over the years. We have so many people serving in public office, members of Congress, all sorts of colleagues of mine in positions that come out of the Jewish community.”
The program concluded in the tent with Kol Hazzanim Kumsitz, featuring Cantors Gil Ezring, Ines Kapustiansky, Anna May, Lauren Phillips Fogelman, Melissa Puius, and Gaby Schvartz.
Many synagogues hire cantors for the High Holy Days.
That’s when so-called three-day-a-year Jews show up in shul, to join their more observant peers. It’s when synagogue buildings are stuffed full of people, clergy prepare their sermons and messages and melodies, professional and lay leaders puzzle out security and logistics, and in general the community shows itself off to its members and to the outside world.
Just as we’re exiting COVID lockdown into a touch-starved world, I’ve had the uncomfortable realization that my family’s tradition of hugging needs to be re-examined
Hugs have always been complicated for me.
I grew up in a family where hugging was very important. And not just hugs, but long, intimate embraces. These hugs became famous and infamous, meaningful and memorable.
Neshama Carlebach joins Raviv Ullman and Rabbi Adam to discuss her journey in stepping away from orthodox Judaism, finding her own voice in her spiritual practice, and the importance of making Torah study personal.
Neshama and Rabbi Golub engaged in conversation about life, faith and music.
Neshama and Meir engaged in conversation about life, faith and music
Award-winning singer, songwriter and educator Neshama Carlebach is now serving as artist-in-residence for Temple Israel of West Palm Beach through the High Holidays, which begin on the evening of Sept. 18.
Can we hold the gray space of human failure and creativity? It’s not only a question about the music of my father Shlomo Carlebach.
It was February 2018. I had not been to shul in a few months. I hadn’t even davened alone. I was immersed in my raw and recent acceptance of what women were saying my father had done to them. I was mourning anew. It broke me that I couldn’t ask him about any of this. I was angry with my father, spiritually separate from him for the first time in my life. And it made me feel very lonely, though he’d been dead for nearly twenty-four years. I felt deeply alone in the universe. The world I knew had turned on me.
‘I’ll struggle with my father for the rest of my life:’ Neshama Carlebach wrestles with the legacy of her father Shlomo and ‘cancel culture’
By Alix Wall
The Forward, July 6, 2020
Neshama Carlebach knows what its like to take heroes off their pedestals.
“I know now the value of pain and being able to look inside,” she said. “What began as the greatest moment of loss in my life, I now see as a rising, and in that rising I can find my real voice.”
Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
We are coming to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, which has taken on new meaning this year. In addition to the other tragic dimensions of this pandemic, social distancing, isolation, loss, stress, and anxiety are exacerbating mental health challenges that were already so prevalent in our society.
This month, we are talking about and working to destigmatize mental illness. Here in Boston, in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, CJP’s Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project hosted three webinars to explore issues related to mental health.
Chagigah Radio host Hal Slifer welcomes Neshama Carlebach in a special mini concert. Neshama will call in to discuss her life and career and will choose three special songs for Chagigah listeners from our music library. Neshama has sold over 1 million records, making her one of today’s best-selling Jewish artists in the world.
On this new stage of my journey, my father is no longer the center of my healing process; I now know we each have our own inner work to do.
I looked into her eyes and just knew. There was an instant recognition that she had experienced something that should never have happened. Something about her tone, her posture, her fluency in the language of surviving assault triggered my own awareness. And she wasn’t alone in the room, far from it. I stood in front of a room of Jewish teenagers, self-selected participants in a conversation about #MeToo and spirituality, grateful for the bravery of the community’s leaders who invited me to facilitate such a raw, important conversation.
The Scarsdale Inquirer
On the title track of her new album, “Believe,” Neshama Carlebach sings of building a better world and creating joy from sorrow, with maybe a nod to the joyous Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, which, as she reminds us, “happens at the darkest time of the year.”
Let us light these lights
For the world tonight
Let our hearts unite
In the light, in the light
And that day, we’ll make love light up the sky
And that day, we’ll see heaven in each other’s eyes
I believe, I believe, I believe
“Turning darkness into light is so very important to me, and that is the main message of this song,” said Carlebach, an award-winning singer and songwriter, who will perform with her band and gospel choir led by Pastor Milton Vann at a community Hanukkah concert at Temple Israel Center in White Plains on Dec. 15.
Singer Neshama Carlebach Sets First Tour in Years, with Performances Confirmed Through May 2020; Tablet Magazine Interviews Carlebach and Rabbi Angela Buchdahl for Redemptive ‘Unorthodox’ Segment
Over her storied career, singer/writer Neshama Carlebach has sold over one million albums and has toured the world. Now, after a hiatus imposed upon her by outside circumstances, Carlebach is thrilled and grateful to have new performances confirmed through May 2020.
By SANDEE BRAWARSKY 18 September 2019 Excerpted from The New York Jewish Week
Jewelry with a Message
Each necklace and bracelet in singer and songwriter Neshama Carlebach’s brand-new line of eye-catching jewelry features the word “Believe” in her handwriting, on a sterling silver pendant. Many are set amidst multicolored gemstones and shining glass beads; wrap bracelets are made of silk. She says, “‘Believe,’ the title of my latest album, is a word that, for me, represents choice, something we each need to work hard to achieve, something that can be within our reach if we commit to growth.”
The handmade jewelry, created in collaboration with jeweler Pam Moskowitz, is available in a variety of colors, styles and lengths including stones like hematite, moonstone, garnet, labradorite, “which contain properties of calm, generosity, health and emotional grounding.” As Carlebach explains, “The word ‘Believe’ is a mantra for me and we hope that the pieces you wear bring you strength, joy and peace. It is so perfect that the jewelry line is being launched close to the Jewish New Year, a time of renewal, hope and rejuvenation.”
$50-$70, at Neshama Carlebach’s shows or at https://100percentbeads.com/collections/believe
Neshama Carlebach’s new album ‘Believe’ evokes Amy Grant in its combination of Pop melodies and spiritually uplifting themes.
New in-depth interviews and reviews offer praise: “Carlebach believes in hope, love and the unifying power of music”
(Published: July 09, 2019)
“My music was rooted in my own broken heart”
“Neshama Carlebach believes in hope, love and the unifying power of music”
‘Her voice is something to behold’
10th Album ‘Believe’ Evokes Amy Grant in its Combination of Pop Melodies and Spiritually Uplifting Themes
In a series of new in-depth interviews and review coverage, singer/writer Neshama Carlebach is praised for her ability to mine an episode of torment and transform it into an uplifting message of hope: “Carlebach examines personal and universal problems to transform darkness into light. The 12-song album approaches life’s challenges with grace, beauty and uplifting music.” Her 10th CD ‘Believe’ is an affirmation and a message to others who hope to overcome life’s setbacks, as she has done through her cathartic creative process: “My music was rooted in my own broken heart.”
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Rabbit at Central Synagogue in New York writes:
A profoundly moving experience to welcome Neshama Carlebach back to our bima at Central. To both celebrate her new extraordinary album “Believe” and to make a tikkun and healing after our year moratorium on Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s music. Video below includes my words to the community, our “Shiru Ladonai” together, and Neshama’s exquisite new prayer “Don’t Let Me Go.”
Please watch and I encourage you to support Neshama Carlebach’s beautiful album of original music.
Singer/songwriter Neshama Carlebach recently released her new album “Believe,” which circles around the message of having faith. Neshama has sold millions of albums and has toured the world, spreading the word of love through her music. Her new release begins with the uplifting, gospel-like delivery of the title-song “Believe,” as her voice is something to behold.
When I heard the devastating news about the synagogue shooting in San Diego, I was shaken to my very core. Through waves of grief, one of my first lucid thoughts was, “I’m glad I chose to not go to shul to today.” How sad that this has become an understandable response for a person of faith, to consider self-isolation in the face of a hateful, murderous attack upon sisters and brothers, fellow human beings.
We’re living in a world where we just don’t know if we’ll make it through the day while doing regular things. Going to the supermarket, going to synagogue, to school. It’s terrifying. The reality of the violence in our world makes us feel vulnerable and fragile and small. On these days it’s hard to know where our protection actually comes from.
With her latest release Believe, Neshama Carlebach examines personal and universal problems to transform darkness into light. The 12-song album approaches life’s challenges with grace, beauty and uplifting music.
Carlebach has been performing – often alongside her father the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach – since she was a girl, but with Believe her own voice is amplified with a collection of original songs.
Can you talk to us more about your single “Always With Me”?
“Always With Me” is a song about love and finding connection. So many of us carry a great deal of pain and burden; too many of us feel alone and powerless; too many of us have lost loved ones and don’t know where we belong. For me, “Always With Me” is a testament to human resilience and strength. We will cry and fall apart and grieve, but then we will get up, feel the love that is always there and find the way to rise again – together.
STAMFORD, Connecticut — Neshama Carlebach sits in her car in a deli parking lot, listening to her new song “Believe.” She beams when the words, “I close my eyes so I can see all that can be / We will rise, I do believe,” pipe through the speaker — but not for the reasons one might think.
The song shares the name of her forthcoming album, which drops on her website on March 29. It features 12 all-original songs performed by her band, along with a new gospel choir led by Pastor Milton Vann. Yet, the smile that lights up Carlebach’s face isn’t born of knowing her new album “Believe” will soon be released into the world (although Carlebach is proud). Rather, it is because she has found tranquility on the other side of turmoil.
NEW YORK — Neshama Carlebach says she is figuring out how “to both love and not love” her father.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, a spiritual leader and musician whose soulful melodies penetrated the hearts of people across the religious spectrum, is the man who made her into who she is today. A singer and composer in her own right, Neshama, 44, first shared a stage with him at the age of 15. She refers to him having been her “best friend.”
But something has changed since the rabbi died in 1994 at 69.
Neshama Carlebach said that as she got ready to deliver her June 12 talk at Congregation Emanu-El, her first impulse was to scream and run out of the room.
It was the sixth time this year the 43-year-old musician was addressing such an audience, all of them since she began speaking publicly about her father, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and the allegations of sexual assault that have swirled around him since his death in 1994. Spurred on by the #MeToo movement, she began to acknowledge these multiple charges in early January, when the Times of Israel published her op-ed, “My Sisters, I Hear You.”
The number of women victimized by her father over the years is not known; many who traveled in his circles estimate it was in the hundreds, or higher. The charges ranged from sexually charged late-night phone calls to overly long, inappropriate hugs with teenage girls that sometimes ended with him ejaculating. Many of his accusers live in the Bay Area, but given his reach and how much he traveled, others are scattered throughout the country and beyond.
His family members had never spoken about these allegations until Neshama Carlebach took the plunge this year. A musician who has built her career on performing her father’s music and serving as a standard-bearer for his musical legacy, she says her singing career has suffered from the fallout surrounding her father, including a recent push to ban his music from synagogues. If his music isn’t sung, she told the crowd, neither is hers.
Originally published by TimesOfIsrael.com
My friends, I humbly come before you. I am grateful to have this privilege to share what I hope will be a contribution to the conversation we are now engaged in in this moment of transformation.
I acknowledge that who I am – my very name – might make it hard to receive anything I might wish to offer. Still, our tradition teaches us that silence is consent, and I cannot remain silent in the face of so much pain.
II. I hear you
My sisters, I hear you. I cry with you. I walk with you. I will stand with you until that day when the world commits to healing and wholeness for all, for the countless women who have suffered the evils of sexual harassment and assault.
I pledge to walk through this narrow-bridge world with you, listening to your hearts, hearts that sing with pain and strength, resilience and passion, feelings that resonate to Heaven as loudly as any song I’ve ever sung.
It is up to us all to both work to heal from what has happened and also to create, educate and transform the future. It is one thing to seek healing from past wounds, but we must also work to invent a future that empowers all of us to bring holiness to the way we treat each other. This commitment to learn from the pains of our past and honor each other means that there must be a plan of action we all invest in.
I walk on this journey with you. Every fiber of my being is looking for the light to heal our brokenness – mine included – and to see what we can do together to radically change the status quo that for so long has disempowered women, voice, body and soul.
What our world needs today is nothing less than a revolution in the way human beings view and treat each other.
I am in this conversation. I am also broken. I see, I hear, I witness.
Neshama Carlebach, is a musical powerhouse, who is sharing her memories of her father, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, as she tells the tale of pain, legacy, and transcendence to “return to where you are born and born again.”For those who don’t know who Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was, he was a Jewish rabbi, religious teacher, composer, and singer who was known as “The Singing Rabbi” during his lifetime. Carlebach is considered by many to be the foremost Jewish religious songwriter of the 20th century, in a career that spanned 40 years. He composed thousands of melodies and recorded more than 25 albums that continue to have widespread popularity and appeal. His influence continues to this day. A musical written about his life, Soul Doctor, opened on Broadway August 15, 2013, but it Neshama who carries on his legacy.
After Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s death allegations of sexual impropriety were waged against him.
(J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — Rabbi Menachem Creditor met Neshama Carlebach 10 years ago when the popular Jewish singer headlined a concert at Creditor’s shul, Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, California. They struck up a friendship, which eventually turned into love and, now, an engagement.
The couple will wed next summer at a ceremony in New York.
By then Creditor, 41, will have completed his tenure at Netivot Shalom and moved to New York, where Carlebach, 43, lives with her two sons.
“Neshama and I stayed in touch over the years,” said Creditor, who has three children from his first marriage. “About a year ago, our conversations somehow shifted. We started seeing each other in a new way. A coalescing of all the sharing we’ve done over the years turned into a beautiful romance. Close friends became best friends.”
(JTA) — Top Jewish musicians with large Orthodox followings will hold a benefit concert to support JQY, or Jewish Queer Youth.
JQY provides crisis and support resources for at-risk LGBTQ Jewish youth from Orthodox Jewish homes.
Among the artists who will perform at the December 17 concert at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York, are Matisyahu, Neshama Carlebach and Eli Schwebel, the organization announced.
Sandi DuBowski, director of a 2001 documentary about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews trying to reconcile their sexuality with their faith, “Trembling Before G-d,” will be honored with the inaugural JQY Trailblazer Award.
“My music is about providing hope and comfort to those who need it. LGBTQ Jewish youth, especially from Orthodox homes, deserve to know that they are loved,”” Matisyahu said in a statement announcing the event.
“I pray that my music sends a message of love and inclusion,” Carlebach said in the statement.
“No human being should ever feel like an outsider in our community.”
Over 70 percent of JQY participants from Orthodox families have contemplated suicide, according to Rachael Fried, the organization’s assistant director and JQY Teen Drop-in Center coordinator.
The Drop-in Center is based at Congregation Bet Simchat Torah in Midtown Manhattan.