Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Day The Music Died - From Marla

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I am writing this out of anger, frustration and sadness.

I never met Shlomo Carlebach, nor heard his music until recently. Some time ago I stumbled upon The Awareness Center's web page, and learned about the numerous allegations made against this orthodox music legion.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I know first hand how easy it is to discount stories of children, and young women, especially when the offender is someone who has some sort of notoriety.

I have always believed the allegations made against Shlomo Carlebach because of the number of women who have come forward. What I don't understand is why anyone in their right mind would continue to promote this man as being honorable and respectable. Especially by having something called a "Carlebachian Shabbat."

I am not from an observant background. I've been attending a class for the last year, which has been taught by a rabbi I trusted and respected. In the past I have shared some of my abuse history. He has always seemed supportive of me. I've even discussed many of the cases of rabbinic clergy abuse in the news with him, including the case of Shlomo Carlebach.

Today I walked out of the only Torah class I attend. I was sickened by an event being sponsored by the rabbi I trusted. It's an "Carlebachian Styled Shabbat". I was shocked, and all of a sudden felt as if I was going to vomit. I had no choice but to leave.

Why doesn't this rabbi get it? Why are so many other communities still doing the same thing? How can I learn from a Torah scholar who is promoting a man who harmed so many women? For a survivor of child abuse, it would be like inviting Israeli's to an "Arafatian Shabbat".

I think everyone should boycott events that honor this man. I think we should all be making public statements against these types of events.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Marla,

You're right. In a perfect world, there would be no more Carlebachian Shabbatons. People, including rabbis, just don't get the pain that his victims feel. Or, many people are not aware of the specifics of his abusive history. Or they feel - wrongly I believe - that he did more good than bad, through his songs, storytelling, and kiruv work, bringing people closer to Judaism, even after his death.

You should be aware that most of mainstream orthodox Judaism had nothing to do with him while he was alive. In general, people were aware of his ways. And Rav Moshe Feinstein, the leading rabbi of the time, held that the music that he composed after he "went off the derech", the proper path, should not be listened to.

So keeping that all in mind, a small suggestion. Go back to your Torah class, talk to your rabbi about it, and just try to accept and adjust to some of the injustices in life that do exist. Be secure in the knowledge that you know more about Carlebach than most people do. And don't listedn to his music.

February 19, 2006 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I share your sadness and frustration. I live in Israel where there are many shuls called "carlebach" shuls. There are large groups of people here who consider this man to be there leader and "Rabbi". If I said anything negative I'm afraid I would be shot. Another disturbing aspect of this whole Carlebach movement is the revisionist history that took place after the man died. He had no problem publicly hugging unrelated women. He held concerts where he would incourage men and women to sit on the floor together and hold hands. Hardly Orthodox. He was a hippy considered as having gone astray by the frum people he had studied with in Yeshiva .I don't understand how people can be so naive and stupid. Look at who the man was and how he lived his life before you start a whole spiritual movement around his image and music!!

February 19, 2006 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have strong feelings about what anony #1 said. I'm sick and tired of people being complacent when it comes to Carlebach. I can't just sit back and accept that people are making him into some sort of hero, because his music brings people back to Judaism. I'll be honest with you. This kind of thinking keeps me as far away from being in any Jewish community.

I had no idea that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein held that we shouldn't be listen to the music he wrote after he went off the derech. Why is this not widely known? Why are we not following his wisdom?

I agree that Marla should try to communicate with her rabbi, but she needs to embrace her feelings, and if she does not feel comfortable going to the class, we should honor and respect her for the choices she makes.

I think we should all organize, and whenever there is a Carlebach minyon, or a Carlebachian Shabbat, we should pick the location, with signs. I say let's stop davening to the music of sex offenders.

February 19, 2006 6:39 PM  
Anonymous distinguish said...

Ltes just remember that there is a HUGE difference between encouraging ""men and women to sit on the floor together and hold hands. Hardly Orthodox" andsexual assault. While you may not condone his stances on gender relations in Orthodox Judaism, things like holding hangsa nad hugging can happen in a context of consent. Sexual abuse involves violating another person's sense of self by touching them in unwanted sexual ways.

February 19, 2006 10:47 PM  
Blogger batdina said...

This is something that deeply troubles me as well. At my shul there's a "carlebach" minyan on friday nights. It's very popular. I don't think people realize what he did. I feel like standing up in front of everyone at the minyan and talking about it. Many people are enamored of carlebach for some reason (he was charismatic, his music is catchy) and are reluctant to hear these things. Others say, he's dead, why talk about this?

Here are some reasons why:
1. To not cause additional anguish to his survivors. They have suffered enough.
2. To not cause additional anguish to survivors of other Jewish figures.
2. To preserve the holiness of the synagogue, it is not fitting to name a minyan or something after him.
3. To condemn such behavior and show that there is zero tolerance to it in the Jewish community.

February 20, 2006 2:08 PM  

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