New York – Eighteen years after his death, the music of renowned composer Shlomo Carlebach continues to live on as Jews on both sides of the Atlantic gathered late into the night to be inspired by a Carlebach styled Selichos service.
Popular singer Yehuda Green, described by many as the Carlebach of today’s generation, served as the baal tefila for last night’s Selichos held at the Carlebach Shul on West 76th Street, accompanied by several guitarists and violinists. Generally a standing room only event, the Carlebach Shul’s Facebook page advised congregants to come early in order to get a seat and men, women and children from all across the religious spectrum filled the Shul to daven, sing, dance and be inspired by the late night service which began at 12:30 AM and ended in the wee hours of the morning.
“There’s nothing like standing with chassidish, yeshivish, modern and non-frum Jews and feeling connected to them all, despite the obvious differences, through the davening and music,” commented Hillel Kapnick, who traveled from Monsey to Manhattan to attend Selichos at the Carlebach Shul. “The perfect fusion of davening, singing and music makes you feel that Moshiach must be right around the corner.”
In Jerusalem, singer Yitzchak Meir led a roomful of impassioned congregants in an emotional Carlebach style Selichos service in the Machteres Synagogue accompanied by guitars, violin and tambourine. Another Carlebach Selichos, held at Subaba Grill in Monsey by Congregation Ohr Shlomo of Pomona, was designed to attract people who might not otherwise attend Selichos.
“We want them to see it isn’t a chore to daven to Hashem ,” said Abe Raice, one of the founders of Ohr Shlomo, also known as the Shlomo Minyan. “We want people to see something exciting, spiritual and heartfelt, something that would attract the younger generation to have a spiritual connection with Hashem.”
All across New York, people flocked to experience davening with some of today’s most famed cantors as Chazan Bentzion Miller led a three hour Selichos service at Temple Beth El in Borough Park, accompanied by a full choir, and Chazan Yitzchok Meir Helfgot davened for the amud at the Park East Synagogue.
“Chazan Helfgot and the choir were flawless,” said Cedarhurst resident Sholom Jacobs, who is himself a Chazan. “Even more uplifting and inspiring than the beautiful chazanut was the diverse crowd made up of all Jews of all backgrounds.”
Four hundred people came to hear Cantor Netanel Hershtik’s Selichos at The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton, with congregants arriving by the busload from the Five Towns, Brooklyn and Queens.
“People sang and joined in and you could feel the electricity in the air,” Hershtik told VIN News, offering a chazan’s perspective on Selichos. “Channeling people’s kavana is why we baalei tefila and chazanim are sent to the amud as the ‘kahal’ representatives. If people tell me after the services that I helped them daven and inspire them, I feel fulfilled.”
“People connect more to songs and I try to get the oylam as involved as possible,” added singer Srully Williger, who led Selichos at the Young Israel of Woodmere last night. “Every mitzvah and tefila has to be done with simcha and everyone agrees that songs bring people to a state of happiness.”
The first night of Selichos brings with it a special opportunity, with people having the ability to travel to hear a particular chazan instead of going to their regular place of davening.
“People want to get the feeling that Rosh Hashana is almost here,” explained Chazan Abraham Kiss who has been saying Selichos at the Young Israel of Avenue K for forty two years. “I don’t do songs, I stick to the traditional nusach that is hundreds of years old. I am a cantor/baal tefila and I think Selichos should be inspiring and not something that turns into a performance.”
Source: Sandy Eller – VIN News