Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (שלמה קרליבך) (known as Reb Shlomo to his followers) (January 14, 1925, Berlin—October 20, 1994, Canada) was a Jewish religious teacher, composer, and singer who was known as "The Singing Rabbi" during his lifetime. Although his roots lay in traditional Orthodox yeshivot, he branched out to create his own movement combining Hasidic-style warmth and personal interaction, public concerts, and song-filled synagogue services. At various times he lived in Manhattan, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Moshav Mevo Modi'im, Israel.
Carlebach is considered by many to be the foremost Jewish religious songwriter in the second half of the 20th century. In a career that spanned 40 years, he recorded more than 25 albums that continue to have wide popularity and appeal. His influence also continues to this day in so-called "Carlebach minyanim" located in many cities around the globe.
Many of the bands today within the genre of Jewish Rock And Soul are greatly influenced by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's melodies and songs.
Carlebach was also considered a pioneer of the Baal teshuva movement ("returnees to Judaism"), encouraging disenchanted Jewish youth to re-embrace their heritage
hlomo Carlebach's ancestors comprised one of the oldest rabbinical dynasties in pre-Holocaust Germany. He was born in 1925 in Berlin, where his father, Rabbi Hartwig Naftali Carlebach (1889-1967), was an Orthodox rabbi. The family fled the Nazis in 1931 and lived in Baden bei Wien, Austria and by 1933 in Switzerland. Carlebach emigrated to Lithuania in 1938 where he studied at a yeshiva. In 1938 his father became the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jacob, a small synagogue on West 79th Street in New York City's Upper West Side. Carlebach came to New York in 1939 via Great Britain. He and his twin brother Eli Chaim took over the rabbinate of the synagogue after their father's death in 1967.
Carlebach studied at several high-level Orthodox yeshivos, including Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, New York, and Beth Medrash Gevoha inLakewood, New Jersey. His genius in Torah study was recognized by great Torah scholars and teachers, among whom were Rabbi Shlomo Heiman, and the Rosh Yeshiva of Bais Medrash Gevoha, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, himself considered a Gadol in the United States. Rabbi Hutner, who gave Rabbi Carlebach his Semicha, was also among the Gedolim of the time. Rabbi Kotler considered it a great loss to the Torah world that Shlomo chose a career in musical Jewish outreach over one as a scholar and teacher, and reprimanded him for doing so. Like his intellectual and scholarly gifts, so were his voice and musical talents recognized quite early during his days in yeshiva, when he was often chosen to lead the services as aHazzan ("cantor") for Jewish holidays.
As is engraved on his tombstone, he became a devoted hasid ("disciple") of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. From 1951-1954, he subsequently worked as one of the first emissaries (shluchim) of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, until he departed to form his successful model for outreach, reaching hundreds of thousands of Jews worldwide.
In 1972 he married Elaine Neila Glick, a teacher. They had two daughters, Nedara (Dari) and Neshama. Neshama Carlebach is a songwriter and singer with a substantial following who has written and sung many songs in her father's style.
Carlebach died suddenly, of a heart attack, while traveling on an airplane to visit relatives in Canada. A popular myth had him seated next to theSkverer Rebbe or his gabbai, with the duo singing the Rebbe's favorite melody, Chasdei Hashem ki lo Samnu ["G-d's lovingkindness does not end"]. In truth, Carlebach was seated next to another observant Jew who recognized him. Prior to takeoff, but after the two had chatted for a few minutes, Carlebach suffered his fatal heart attack. His seatmate immediately informed the flight crew. Carlebach was evacuated to hospital, where he was declared dead.