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 “Higher and Higher.” There stood a middle aged couple, dancing, fairly closely at first…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: “Excuse me? Could you please stop dry humping your wife?”

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.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.

7 Comments

  • Thanks for the recap EY. Sometimes hidden deep within the most capitalistic pig of a women is her hot inner hippie chick. It’s just that she can’t earn a living in corporate America.

  • The Happy Minyan that organizes the annual event as a fundraiser tries very hard to be inclusive. So there are some slow bands, some faster bands, some more way out some more traditional-shlomo, and of course there were a bunch of speeches. They were sweet but a tad too long. Encino… Were you there for the start of the concert? DId you hear us play? You can hear some of the music from the first set at my website.

    We had a wonderful time playing the audience was really into singing and clapping with Reb Shlomo’s music. It was not about a lifestyle, or about a movement, and I strongly disagree about things running out of gas.

    Things have changed. Reb Shlomo has permeated Jewish spiritual culture now. His music, approach, and torah have had a lasting influence on just about every stripe of Rabbi and Jewish musician. Reb Shlomo’s influence is not in concentrated form, but has become ubiquitous.

    And if you are looking for a shidduch, a watermelon loving Jewish gal, might I suggest you come for a shabbos meal at our house? We look forward to meeting you.

  • Married people should not be allowed out in public. They get to go out so rarely that before you know it they’re making a spectacle of themselves and the rabbi has to intervene. Keep them in their cage and throw them peanuts.

  • Rabbi Yonah, I am with you on this one. Shloymeleh was more than just a good musician who wrote hundreds of inspiring niggunim. He was a great jew who infused Torah to many people around the world and not only in his generation as his music and his stories keep moving and help people eleveta themselves.
    Sure thank G-d for rapper frm C.H. He is great musician or at least a lot of people love him but as far as the jewish musicians we have more talented performers. And my humble self prefers YIdcore to the Chasidistafarian.
    TM, who much you pay per hour?

    gut shabbes (mamish! 😉 )

  • Reb Yonah,

    Thanks for the invite. I got some friends down in the LBC that I can see while I’m there. But not this weekend. I’m off to Israel on Monday for 2 weeks.

    So Long Beach Hillel is where all the watermelon lovin chicks are at? Why am I in Santa Barbara..Besides for the weather, beach, exorbitant rent, apathetic people, lack of culture.

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