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Meeting Rabbi Shlomo, Neshama Carlebach inspired Tucsonans

An innovative figure emerged in my youth who inspired me in a way that was so different from many others — a rabbi with a guitar and amazing stories who reached into the inner depths of my soul. It was Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, who became known as the “sweet singer of Israel.”

Today, Jews everywhere in the world daven (pray) and celebrate to the strains of his uplifting nigunim (tunes). But Rabbi Shlomo was more than a vocalist, more than a “Dancing Rebbe,” he was an extremely insightful teacher in his own special style. Always between his songs he would tell stories, not just for entertainment but as a vehicle for giving us insights about life.

One of my most memorable moments was when I had the opportunity to sit next to Rabbi Shlomo at a Shabbat table. His laughter and expressions had a way that could reach one’s inner soul. His daughter, Neshama, who was his pride and joy, has captured her father’s unique gift and revives his legacy for all of us.

—Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz, director of Judaics at Tucson Hebrew Academy

“All the songs you know and love? My father wrote!”

I heard these powerful words spoken by Neshama Carlebach, daughter of world-renowned Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, when I took an evening seminar with her a decade ago at the famous “Carlebach Shul” in New York City.

Shlomo, as her father of blessed memory was affectionately known, was a master craftsman of liturgical songs. His songs are sung daily around the world, in all denominations of the Jewish faith. Carlebach wrote unforgettable melodies to “Esa Einai,” “L’cha Dodi,” “V’shamru,” “V’haeir Eneynu,” “Am Yisrael Chai,” “Pitchu Li” and “Od Yishama,” to name a few.

Neshama Carlebach was indeed right. All the songs we know and love … her father wrote! But that’s not all. Neshama inherited her father’s gifts and keeps his legacy alive through her own inspiring musicianship.

—Lori Sumberg, cantorial soloist