Review of my association with Shlomo Carlebach
Date: October 30, 2004 01:53AM
Let's see if Amazon has the guts to post this up. It's here for view:
In 1974, I met Shlomo at the Belmore Jewish Center in LI, NY. The Ben Yishai cult run by Jack "Yaakov Abensur" Hickman, used to frequent his concerts as Shlomo's music was used by the cult for worship services.
Shlomo's charisma is legendary as is the power of his music to invoke religious fervor. I had left Judaism's mainstream (See my review of Rabbi Shea Hecht's "Confessions of a Jewish Cultbuster") for Christianity but Divine Providence intervened and I was, to my long-term detriment, herded back to Judaism. This all led to my dismal failed marriage and being dragged back to Israel several times when I really was trying to forget about all of it.
I started going to Shlomo's concerts on a regular basis and struck up a friendship with him despite my involvement with Ben Yishai. My uncle, Irving Green (see my review for "Judaism on the Web" by Irving Green) and his family constantly tried to shoo me off of Shlomo who made himself accessible to many people: "Shlomo's an important person, (and I of course was no one and they were going to see to that)...." They were constantly pulling rank with Shlomo's being a rabbi too as they tried to ram that down my my throat. Shlomo's saying was that people didn't need rabbis anymore they needed friends.
My spiritual journies led me to Israel as detailed in "Confessions ...." and to Yeshivat D'var Yerushalayim (see my review of one of Rabbi Uri Kaploun's books) and to Moshav Me'or Modi'in. I was warned not to go to Modi'in because of the rampant drug use there and Shlomo's liberties with women which put me at odds with people. I didn't know the extent of his craziness. (See www.culteducation.com under Ultra-orthodox groups - "The Shadow Side of Shlomo Carlebach"). Nevertheless I became his traveling companion and played the guitar and sang with him in concerts all over Israel (circa '78 - '79) in some of Israel's finest music halls ( Binyanei Hauma, Bet Ha'am, Jerusalem Ampitheater, Dan Cesarea, Dan Carmel).
I lived at Moshav Modi'in in dire poverty. My parents supported my trip there which was basically unproductive and I never wanted to be in Israel, I simply wanted to go to college after leaving Hickman. But Shea Hecht was put in control of my family by my father and he was calling the shots for me to go to Israel (Hecht has NEVER been to Israel - he's 4 years older than me). I did some work in the health food factory making granola , date nut bread and tofu.
I had some friends but was routinely attacked by certain people at the Moshav. One issue was over my Uncle Irving's business dealings with Shlomo and they wound up in court (your uncle the crook), the second was over how I just simply ran out of gas to daven incessantly and at Shlomo's intensity(you don't want to help us). He burned a lot of people out over the years, I've heard about it.
The third thing and the most annoying is that I'm an avid weightlifter. I started lifting steadily on the summer of when I was entering the 7th grade due to all the anti-semitism I had to put up with. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (not Bratslav by the way) a great grandson of the Besht (the Baal Shem Tov - the founder of the Chasidic movement) wrote a book called "The Tales of the Seven Beggars". The book has a story called "The Master of Prayer" which details seven path of life. One path is the path of the "bodybuilder". The allegation is that bodybuilders like to amass goods and says some things that are highly suspect. One of the Moshavniks was constantly attacking me over the weightlifting. Weightlifting was necessary for me, and it was part of my life not all of it. It's noteworthy to note that the husband of this woman who kept attacking me wound up with about 100 lbs of my weights when I left Modi'in. I guess they know how to "kasher" the discipline.
In late '79, I left Modi'in to go to my sister's wedding and to start my business education. I attended a synagogue in Commack, LI run by a rabbi who Shlomo had introduced me to right before I left for Israel in May of '78. This rabbi's father used to write a column for The Jewish Press and the father was a "chevrusa" or learning partner of Shlomo's at Torah Vodaas where Shlomo received his smicha (ordination) as a rabbi from Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner.
The synagogue was not great shakes. I went for awhile but left disenchanted with Judaism again. In addition, there were additional problems at home with my father and we were back in Hecht's office several time. I never had these problems until I advertised for Judaism and went to Israel.
In late '84 while finishing my junior year at Long Island University, amassing a Summa Cum Laude, my family moved to Israel and my degree was scrapped. I was fuming about it. I scrupulously avoided Shlomo and Modi'in due to the problems there.
Nevertheless, after finishin my Master of Science in Management at the Boston University/Ben Gurion University of the Negev joint program, I left Israel after being literally attacked and screamed at in Israel's Professioanl Employment Bureau in Tel Aviv:
"What kind of degree is this...." was one attack.
It was the type of degree that Israel's captains of industry were going to take to learn American managment techniques and theories. And I finished 3rd in the class.
I wound up at K'far Chabad for awhile and later went to Shlomo and the Witt's.
Rabbi Yeshua Witt, Shlomo's #1 man, tried to get me to pay an inordinant sum to learn at his yeshiva. I refused, wisely, knowing I'd never find a job in Israel.
I was at Moshav Modi'in dining hall for a Shabbos and I sat next to Chaim David Sarachik, a popular entertainer, who knew I was looking to get married: "What you want is a girl who keeps, Shabbos, niddah, the works...", he counseled me. The worst advice I ever got.
I came back to America, April '87, see "Confessions of a Jewish Cultbuster" for the details.
I worked as a computer programmer until the end of '94 right around the time of Shlomo's passing (petirah) and went to Israel again to get a new start. When people found out who I was living with at the headhunting firm I went to (sent there by my undergraduate alma mater) I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting recommended for or finding a job.
I came back to the States in August of '95, and wound up needing treatment again for the events surrounding the way I was treated by the Witts and my going broke in Israel. Since then, I've held a number of jobs and have been functional.
My father always noted that there was a pattern - I'd get involved in Shlomo's music heavily then I go to him and his people, I'd get blown off and then I'd wind up at Chabad where I'd get my head cut off.
I got involved with a controversial synagogue, the 8th St. Shul, run by Rabbi Yitzchak Fried. I ran the music night and was given the title of Assistant Rabbi there. Investing in music equipment, music lessons, etc., I spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours practicing. I came out with a licensed CD (http://store.mixonic.com/rabbireuvengreen).
I was promised concerts at the Rutgers Univesity Chabad house by Rabbi Goodman "on a Tuesday", diddled as usual. I was blown off by Rutgers Hillel. I finally reevaluated my life and donated my entire Carlebach music collection, comprising over 50 audios and 8 video tapes to Rutgers Hillel. Basically, all of this was wasted time, energy and money. I threw good money after bad for years on all of this. I'm finished doing so.
After I did the CD, I went to the Carlebach Shul to promote it. The President, Shy Yellin, gave me alot of flack over "why didn't you put Shlomo's teachings on the CD?"
I spent a lot of money and a lot of hours practicing and as usual, I just can't please the Jewish establishment - or Jewish non-establishment as the Shul is. I redid the CD
but lost my voice as it was redone so there were no vocals and no teachings.
I also wonder what Shlomo and my Uncle said about me together and what my father was up to. In '95 my Aunt Dagmar got into a conversation with Rabbi Sammy Intrator and I knew it was the usual put down of myself. I finally got a divorce from all of them.
Furthermore, I became active in writing to Israel's newspapers to push through the "Haredi draft bill" which would end religious exemptions for the yeshiva students. Rabbi Yehoshua Saffrin who teaches at the Carlebach "yeshiva" (about 10 people attend) said that after I wrote that letter and had it published, that's when the bombs started going off.
In other words, this cult is blaming me for the events in the State of Israel. Ridiculous.
There are alot of Carlebach minyanim (quorems) starting up, where the leaders never even knew Shlomo at all. And I've seen a lot of the Shlomo marriages fail as the woman left their husbands, especially if they hooked up with Chabad later on (name upon request). I think this situation needs to be investigated.