Fifty Years Ago at PAS - Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
During the fall of 1966, the PAS Adult Education Institute of Jewish Studies presented a lecture series on "Modern Trends in Judaism." Speakers representing the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform approaches were Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, Rabbi Judah Nadich, Rabbi Emanuel Goldsmith, and Rabbi Balfour Brickner, respectively. Also included in this series was a session on Hasidism featuring Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. While the other presenters spoke in a conventional lecture format, Rabbi Carlebach sang and told stories as he accompanied himself on guitar in the PAS sanctuary.
Shlomo Carlebach greeted his audience like this:
When one person meets and other, the biblical greeting is to say shalom… Shalom comes from the word shleimut, which means being whole. One human being says to the other: You know something, I am a broken vessel without you. I'm not whole without you; I'm only half. And now that I met you, I'm whole again. My soul is a little bit bigger, my heart is deeper, and life is much more beautiful since I met you. That's called shalom. So shalom to you, friends.
“Have you seen Hasidim dancing?” Carlebach asked. When it comes to singing and to dancing, they act like one; they are whole when they sing and dance together. Carlebach continued in Hasidism it is important that everything is real. Is God real to you? Is your friend real to you? He also said that the essence of Hasidism is not expressed in talking, but in doing. What is the most important thing we can do in our lives? The answer is whatever we are doing at the moment.
Carlebach closed the evening with this message: Always ask, "Do you know that God is living? . . . If we all hold hands we can reach heaven." Am Yisroel Chai!