Editorial note: This guest post comes to you courtesy of Aaron Small–the artist also known as Encino Yeled–who recently attended a Shlomo Carlebach memorial concert…photos to come as soon as I figure out what’s wrong with them and why they won’t post…sorry EY…–EDK
After seeing the fracas of Krucoff’s Bar Mitzvah, I decided it was time to find some Jewish fun of my own, here in the not-so-Holy Land, sunny state of California. Congregation Mogen David on Pico Boulevard held a memorial concert for Reb Shlomo Carlebach last Saturday night, an event full of aged Jewish hippies, (many who were past residents of Me’or Modi’in, Carlebach’s moshav in Israel) reggae/folk bands covering many of the man’s tunes, and Carlebach look-alikes. What was missing, unfortunately, was the plethora of hot, Jewish hippie chicks that I thought would put the Israeli ones to shame. My dreams of meeting someone who’d escape into the forest and survive solely on hummus, watermelon, and rice were quickly put to rest when a still spry man older than my Hungarian grandmother (and she is old) invited me into the circle parading around the bima.
The Moshav Band, pupils of Carlebach who mix their own brand of Mizrachi with Carlebach’s style, was the highlight of the night. Energetic, young, and full of soul, they got the crowd of 120 standing, or at least, clapping in near-perfect time. My favorite moment occurred on the bima, the platform on which the Torah is read, during Moshav’s version of â€œHigher and Higher.â€ There stood a middle aged couple, dancing, fairly closely at firstâ€¦The husband danced behind his wife, then started grinding her, to my
disapproval fascination. Before it could move any higher, they were interrupted by the Rabbi of the synagogue, who with a critical glance I imagine would have said: â€œExcuse me? Could you please stop dry humping your wife?â€
All in all, I left when an unknown reggae collective, like most of the 9 other bands, performed their renditions of Carlebach’s greatest hits. Maybe it was the vintage Casio keyboard, or their tired voices, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sound like gold. The nostalgia and connection to Carlebach hasn’t diminished from their souls; but like the movement, they’ve grown older. I’ve had a Carlebach Rabbi; he spent more time channeling and emulating Reb Shlomo than formulate his own thoughts. Their style of song and prayer, hippie counterculture movement is running out of kosher gas. Thank god for Hasidic rappers from Crown Heights.