New York – Faithful fans thought there would never be another Shlomo Carlebach, a composer whose simple, soulful tunes could draw out the spark in the most estranged Jews.Join our WhatsApp group
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At the Carlebach shul on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, however, a successor is working the same magic, using Carlebach’s tunes and some of his own. Mishpacha Magazine Yisroel Besser speaks with Yehuda Green, who has captured the music world with his melodies and message.
When did Reb Shlomo first become aware of Yehuda’s gift?
It was in 1980, and he was doing a kumzits in Golders Green, in London. I was working there at the time, with no intention of pursuing a career in music. Yet since Shlomo was in town, I joined the gathering. He was familiar with me from Jerusalem, and knew that I enjoyed singing. In the middle of a song, he looks at me and says ‘Yid’l, come sing with me.’ I was so shy that I only would sing from behind a curtain, so that I was obscured. That was the first time.”
Yehuda’s first recording venture had a rocky start. “In 1993, I recorded a few songs — some of my own, and some of his, including ‘Mimkomcha.’ I asked him for permission, and he said that he wanted to hear it first. I played it for him and he grimaced at the musical arrangements.
I saw he didn’t like it, but I was scared to tell the arranger, who had invested much time and effort in the music. I was in a bind. Then, the arranger called me to tell me that there had been a fire in the studio and everything was gone.” He smiles, “A rebbishe maiseh!”
Which song of Reb Shlomo’s does Yehuda consider his personal favorite? Of course, that’s a tough question, but he obligingly answers. “I find that his ‘Eishes Chayil’ touches me in a very deep place.”
I ask Yehuda if he strives to imitate Shlomo, or to expand on Reb Shlomo. “We are only trying to carry on his work. Of course, I have my own interpretation of his music — all the talmidim have their own personal stamp — but he is the background to all of it. People comment that I sing the Berditchever niggun at
a different pace then he sang it. What shall I do? That is how it appears to me! There is also a clear Breslov infl uence on my music; it’s who I am. He encouraged us to be individuals, right?”
And he closes with a beautiful thought. “The Rebbe, Reb Nachman, said that his fi re will burn until Mashiach comes. I say that Shlomo’s music will play until Mashiach comes!”
Read the full 5 page fascinating article in this weeks Mishpacha Magazine, available at your newsstand.