MAILBAG: In Defense Of “Carlebach” Style Selichos Events Accompanied By Music [VIDEOS]

Selichos led by Yehuda Green at the West Side Institutional Synagogue in Manhattan (JDN)

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100 years ago, amongst the stifling tenements on the Lower East Side lived a Jew by the name of Max Grablowski. Along with his friend Irving Bunim and others, they looked on in horror as the long hot humid Friday nights were filled with the entertainment of marxist-leninist and every type of evil being spouted from the soap boxes on the street corners.

Along with a few friends, he founded a group which would be known to this day as a movement, the Young Israel movement. Many European rabbis could not relate to the American Youth and did not appreciate their sincerity. They were therefore deprived of many of the common customary honors in the Shuls, such as being Chazan and receiving Aliyos.

What began with Friday night lectures, morphed into a worldwide organization and movement which has preserved the Judaism of many many people for many many years.

Common conversation today was ‘where did you say Slichos’, and ‘where are you going to be saying Slichos’ was a common conversation this past Shabbos. A common answer was, at the Carlebach shul, by the cantorial concerts and by other such off the plantation venues not normally frequented by many of their attendees.

This phenomenon, which is quite widespread, lead me to the realization through conversations with friends that there is a tremendous population out there that is not being serviced by our traditional structure and it is time to create a such a structure because the proportion of people on The Fringe is not growing but the numbers are, as our population flourishes. All these people attending these out of the box Services on Motzei Shabbos are most likely attending or avoiding attending Shuls where they do not feel at home and part of the congregation, part of the service.

We cannot afford to disenfranchise so many of our beloved youth.

Who will stand up to fill the void?

Dan – NYC

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


[RELATED – VIDEO: Monsey: Neturei Karta Protest Selichos Event That Has Music]

VIDEOS: Selichos with Yoely Lebowitz in #Monsey Neturei Karta protested outside

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VIDEOS: 1st night Selichos @yehudagreen @avidonm @bentaplin

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  1. Beutiful! I heard a Rav say over Shabbos that we need to daven harder to make up for these musical selichos. NONSENSE lets create a place for everybody.

  2. If someone has some sort tradition
    for music then nu nu,

    that any of those taking part did.
    Therefore it is little more than inappropriate escapism

  3. “people will do whatever it is, as long as it takes , as long as it is not what they are supposed to be doing”

    Only where there is no way out there is utter devotion; and devotion is the touchstone of every truth in the world

  4. Personally, it doesn’t work for me. But there are many different derachim in avodas Hashem. If it helps you achieve that, gevaldik. Let’s not glorify one derech to the detriment of another.

  5. righteousjudgment
    judaism does not bend for anyone. those who bent it , bent it out of shape, christians, reform, OO, destructionists etc and its not judaism. this slichos ‘festivals’ is very minor bend.
    the problem when one starts bending his own thing down the line he will bend more and more and will end up OO, reform etc

  6. I also have a sort of OTD relative who doesn’t go to Shul persumingly feeling out-of-place.
    It’s not for me to pasken whether Sliches with music is appropriate even for such a fringe group but they certainly need a place where they feel comfortable.
    What can those Kanoi protesters show of having done to be mekarev those youngsters?

  7. Please don’t judge before you are 100% with all 613 mitzvos! It might be easy for you to go to shul but you defiantly have difficulties with other mitzvos. Do you give Maaser from your wage ? Are you quiet in shul ? Do you guard your eyes ?

  8. Chazal say “Binyon Naarim stira Stiras zekeinim binyon” innovations of the immature are detrimental while what seems to be detrimental by the wise is actually beneficial.
    Unless daas Torah was consulted about this question it would be “binyon naarim”

  9. I guess no one who commented so far remembers that years ago many shul advertised the Chazzan and choir that would be davening in their shuls. Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt Davened for the Amud in Pressbergh, before coming to America and davening in the Sefardisher Shul in Boro Park. He was accompanied by a choir. (At one time that choir was made up of 6 brother from a Shomer Shabbos home. ) There were many other chazzanim davening inthe frum shuls all over the world, There were advertisements in the local Jewish Newspapers promoting the shuls and their Chazzan.

    I assume that many of these shuls has some musical accompaniment. But to the many people who BH went to Yeshivas where Nussach was used in Shul and very few Niggunin, all of the singing seems a bit strange.

    In summary, if there is a problem with these “Carlbach” Minyonim it is probably not the music and instruments. Some of the people may be to the “left” of your position, but there is nothing halachically wrong with davening with them.

    THERE IS a problem of looking down on them, and not welcoming them to shul. Just think of the tefilla we say just before Kol Nidrey.


  11. There is a bigger problem than the music.The problem is the minyanim where there is a breach in the mechitza.Look at the carlebach shule.Slichos is not a concert it is tefillah and there should be a full mechitza.Anyone that would not daven in a shule like this all year why do they make an exception of all times on slichos night.

  12. While I might personally enjoy such a musical performance, I would find it a severe distraction from the tefilos and kavanos one needs to have. I would gladly prefer a Shaliach Tzibbur whose voice was far less musical but had the kind of kavanos that triggered my ability to be mechavein. I often daven in such minyanim, and aspire to tefilo as a spiritual exercise, not a concert.

    I do not oppose such minyanim, provided that they follow halacha without compromise, such as the absence or minimizing of mechitzos being unacceptable. There may be people who could benefit from being included in such concerts. However, and I note this with quite a bit of knowledge of the OTD world, these are a small exception. My preference in how to spend Selichos night would swing far more to my own tefilos than to the nonsensical, arrogant protests. Still, I am not the ardent supporter, as the musical performance diverts the focus substantially.

  13. The problem is one of mood. Sure, you can do anything you want. It would be unknown to our grandparents, because these are days of awe. And no one nowadays has any clue what awe means (it’s not fear, sadness, nor is it joy, exuberance, celebration, happiness).

    But think of it in these terms; let me try to give you a simile. You go to weddings, but you don’t quite know how you are supposed to act or how you are supposed to feel. You have no “mesorah” for the civil behavior, the table manners, the etiquette, the minhagim, etc. You decide that the right thing is to define your own behavior for the wedding. Laughter at the “wrong” time, crying at the “wrong” time, whatever, because it gives YOU a personal feeling of meaning at what is happening around you that you do not understand. That works for YOU. It may not be what the rest are doing, and it may not fit the words that are being spoken (perhaps you are ignorant of the procedures taking place), or the mood of the people who designed the procedures to begin with. But it brings meaning to YOU, it gives YOU inspiration, it makes YOU feel spiritual. It’s all about YOU because you are skipping the step of understanding real meaning and filling it with whatever is in your head. (It’s not that what they are doing is wrong, it’s just… uninformed… and that’s actually sad.)

    And if that doesn’t work for you, replace “wedding” above with “funeral”. Same thing. You cannot be frum on a desert Island with no mesorah, or you are … in effect, taking the Torah shebiksav and ‘writing’ your own torah she’b’al peh.

    Tzei u’limad.

  14. question #1: who is Reb Biderman?

    question #2: Shimen, Judaism is being bent out of shape from both ends. Kolel for everybody never existed in the Alter Heim. You didn’t work you didn’t eat.
    that’s why it was reserved for the truly gifted next generation of rabbonim and gedolim. Judaism has always adapted; we just became afraid of any change after Reform arose. And if you think we never adapted to change, what would happen if the Baal Shem Tov came along today and not 230 years ago?
    Our davening has changed dramatically over the centuries. Just look at the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur davening. The peyuttim were composed between the 8th and 14th centuries. My guess is that in your world, Kabbalas Shabbos, composed in the 1500’s and 1600’s would be forbidden if proposed today.

    my point is it is only recently has one side has bent Judaism to seem like a joyless,frozen religion that it never was

  15. This is one of the most hack pieces I’ve ever read. Young Israel has nothing to do with the Carlebach Shul. And today’s musical selichos are a promotional event. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach led his Shul in a certain way, that was consistent all year round. What’s going on today is a cheap imitation of it.

  16. annoyed
    September 3, 2018 8:06 pm at 8:06 pm
    Very simple cheshbon he had.
    Dont make it the norm because he is simply was afraid of it becoming minhag.
    But he doesnt address all the other shtusim done years ago both by the chassidim and litvaks ( more noticeable by chasdidim) which became minhag , simply because no one stopped them and today everyone shrys ” minhag k’halacha” etc., When in essence it was never anything except a fad . Sorta like by slichos.
    Biddermans hypocricy is quite ironic.

  17. In Eretz Yisroel I once went to a well known uplifting Selichot where the Chazzan sang beautifully and everyone was inspired. The place was packed and every word riveted through my Neshama. There was no music accompaniment. Since then the Selichot services have disappointing. They are usually said quickly and by the time I get to the correct page they are almost finished.
    Most likely I would appreciate a large Olam at a Yeshiva. I was not near any Yeshiva this Selichos and as in the past few years I just force myself to go.
    Looking at the Videos above I would be more inspired to go there than the choices I had around me.
    You don’t have to be Off the Derechbl or even close to that to appreciate these services with music.
    Maybe some here have never had a great experience at Selichot service so they do have high expectations.
    This time of Chesbon HaNefesh can be very overwhelming and depressing for some and music does awaken the Neshama and adds an element of Simcha. Simchas Shel Mitzvot!
    I think that most people who wrote negative comments here would have had a very uplifting Selichot davening and would see how valuable this is to many people as we go forward to Rosh Hashana.

  18. Not sure if I understood the beginning of the article & connection to the origination of the glorious Young Israel movement.

    Is the article comparing those who wanted, needed, desired a Young Israel type Shul ( English speaking Rabbonim, some singing, more engaged mispallim), as โ€œout of the boxโ€ from Europe & therefore today all types of rituals have been โ€˜changedโ€™!!!
    Yiddishkeit has always included German Jewry who had chazzanim & choirs, Sefardim who sing the tefillos together, Bucharim who sit on cushions & each person is baal tefillah as they take turns, etc. etc. Europe isnโ€™t the yardstick of Torah -true Yiddishkeit ONLY!!!!

  19. I wrote on this exact topic years ago, when this ‘thing’ started out, r”l.

    So here we have people beseeching, begging, praying for their very dear life, they know their life is in the balance, and on the other side these guys are blithely dancing away… Sure – swaying (swigging.. uch) to the tune of ื”ืฉื‘ื™ื ื•… yeah. That’s for sure “Return us”… You take a peek at those clippings and you get such a feeling of nausea.. “Ribono Shel Olam, look at our tzaros”, one step in, “we have sinned much”, one step out. “Avos Haolam, our holy forefathers”, one pace forward, “please intercede on our behalf”, two paces back… FEH.

    The fish of yesteryear had more sechel…. Anyone with a drop of sense (sold out) knows that these are solemn days, days of awe, meant for a specific purpose. You guessed right, probably not meant for dancing away the night merrily .. Hardly the main activity fitting for ื™ืžื™ื ื ื•ืจืื™ื.

    If you must, if you can’t control yourself, go into the privacy of a bathroom and sing your lungs out “ืืฉืžื ื•”, “ื›ื™ ืขืœื™ืš ื”ื•ืจื’ื ื•”, “ื•ืœื ื• ื‘ื•ืฉืช ื”ืคื ื™ื”… No, I’m not judging you, if you don’t know any better, but kindly leave US out of your urges… no need to publicize it. No need to broadcast your contempt of Heavenly Court. ื›ื™ ื”ื•ื ื ื•ืจื ื•ืื™ื•ื is to be taken at literal sense, whichever direction you read.

    How would you think the Navi Yirmiyahu would react knowing that his words ื”ืฉื™ื‘ื ื• written with such sorrow, such feeling, such holiness, has turned into the songbooks of “Slichos Concerts” (Vivace tempo). We all know what happens when words of Torah are taken out and made into songs… how much more for this – AND FOR WHAT ITS BEING USED FOR!

    To the rest of us, take a cursory glance at the words, let it fill you with the feelings they were meant to convey, to occupy one’s conscious with. Let the words envelope us with the correct sense of dread and awe of the Ribono Shel Olam, His Yom HaDin. Let us cherish these feelings… let us carry over the feelings of these minutes of true Yirah, Teshuva, Ahavha over into our new year.

    Let us ALL be gebenched with a Kseiva Vchasima Tova – each and every one of us. May HaShem shower his blessings on us, may he shine His countenance upon us… bless us with very LIFE. A fulfilling, productive life, doing Ratzon HaShem with much health, nachas, wealth. AND TRUE HAPPINESS!!!

  20. ืืžืจ ืจื‘ื™ ืขืงื™ื‘ื: ืชึผึธืžึตื”ึผึท ืึฒื ึดื™ ืึดื ื™ึตืฉื ื‘ึผึทื“ึผื•ึนืจ ื”ึทื–ึผึถื” ืžึดื™ ืฉืึถื™ึผื•ึนื“ึตืขึท ืœึฐื”ื•ึนื›ึดื™ื—ึท

  21. “……..How would you think the Navi Yirmiyahu would react knowing that his words ื”ืฉื™ื‘ื ื• written with such sorrow, such feeling, such holiness, has turned into the songbooks of โ€œSlichos Concertsโ€ (Vivace tempo)….”

    We don’t know how he would react, but we DO know that if he didn’t have a certain level of simcha he wouldn’t be able to prophesize… It’s an irrefutable fact, that only if the person whom Hashem chose as a navi attained simcha , was he able to prophesize…. So even if his stern admonishments, there was hope and salvation..

    Yona the navi, whose famous prophesy was not exactly thrilling, was zoche and merited being a navi only because he was in Jerusalem during the great Simchat Bet Hashoeva simcha and was exhilarated …. Which the mishne says that one never saw simcha if he didn’t experience this event… ( Mesechet Sukah… 1st Tosfos on 50b)

  22. …..And of course, the navi Elisha asked for a musician to lift his spirit so he can prophesy…. Being just a holy person alone didn’t help him…

  23. The majority of those photographed in these wonderful videos appear to be connecting to the Ebeshter in their own way and otherwise would not be in shul. I doubt any of these services is a surrogate for visiting a club on a Saturday night at midnight. Shimen seems to have no difficulty in bending over backwards to put his head where it doesn’t belong and denigrate other yidden who choose a hashkafah he doesn’t approve of. At this time of tshuvah, perhaps consider Ahavas Yisroel and Achdus as your “New Years Resolutions”.

  24. I feel very humble to add my two cents on this conversation,
    I just want to give you a glimpse into this topic from a different perspective. We all have a Neshama, and we know that the purpose of Torah and Mitzvos are to connect us to Hashem. our Neshama deep inside always yearns to get closer to the one above, and this is true with every Yiddishe Neshama no matter how they appear on the outside.

    I first want to tell you that unlike the above artical I am B”H not OTD and I am definitely not someone who wouldn’t go to Shul if not for a “Musical Slichos”.

    Music was always an essential part of Judaism. in the Bais Hamikdash this was a central part of the Avodah when music was played by the Leviim and in the Gemara we see that even at Funerals music was used to arouse the attendees to cry, and even in Pre WWII Europe in every big Shul there were Chazanim Choirs and occasionally, yes; Music.. (as per my grandfather who is still alive and used to daven in Preshburg in the Shul of the Ksav Sofer)

    This year I attended Slichos like you would call it a ” Musical Slichos” in Williamsburg Brooklyn.
    and unlike what you would expect from an event like this, the only difference between this years Slichos and the Slichos I went to until now was that this year it was with a lot more Kavana and a real feeling of connection to Klal Yisroel, and to the one above by everyone atteding.
    when we got to the part ื‘ืžื•ืฆืื™ ืžื ื•ื—ื” we all sang together in a beautiful song slowly and word after word most of the people with there eyes closed and some were even forming tears.
    by the time we got to ืฉืžืข ืงื•ืœื ื• we screamed from the bottom of our hearts asking Hashem to accept our Teshuva and drew us closer to him.
    After being part of a Slichos like this I came to think that just trying to stop people from attending Slichos like this and stop this altogether would be considered bending Judaism out of shape, as mentioned by some here.
    and the opposite holds true this should be something we should promote everyone to attend not just those considered outcasts.

  25. to proove this is not oigehalten…’aveirah gorayros aveirah’. no mechitza, some women singing and motioning along(greens ‘selichos’) so your asking ‘selichos’ while ‘toivel veoichas sheretz b’yodo’!!!

  26. takes2-2tango
    what shtusim did the chassidim or lutvaks incorporate? and if they did it wasnt by otd, on the fring or guys like you ….every minhg was incorporated holy tzadiikim who did not ignore the lightest seuf in S’U, unlike you that thruout your posts all over mock holy dinim

  27. katan hatorah
    at this time of year you have to differenciate between ehrlicher yidden and those who make a purim spiel of holys like katen hador, takes2-2 tango etc. by the way katenhatorah and co whats a reform doing on shomer torah site?

  28. yes, thats how other movements start…davening too long, so they cut out, feel more comfortabel with wife and children next to me by davening so another halacha out, of course first came mechitze, why should women not be part, then boyfreind with girlfrend, etc like better little jewish than no jewish…and in the end the whole movement no jewidsh hug katen hador & Co

  29. How ironic this story starts with the history of the Young Israel. It brings me no joy to say that “some” of today’s Young Israel’s are NOT what they used to be, are NOT warm, welcoming places to other Yidden, but more of clubs that push away visitors and potential members.

  30. Wow – just wow…

    I’m not really a fan of the musical Slichos shown, but do we really need the level of name-calling that some here feel they need to engage in about this? Having music at Slichos is not against Halacha, and if you don’t like the style of music, just find another Minyan. A couple of years ago, I found myself at a “Choral” Slichos Minyan in a well-known Shul in London (long story…). It was not my cup of tea (especially at 12:30 AM), but I could definitely see how some would find it inspiring. It’s less than a week until Rosh HaShana – why the need for name-calling about a non-Halachic issue?

    an Israeli Yid

  31. I have several relatives that are spiritually challenged to various degrees. Most of them are what is termed, with it, tuna bageles, etc. The common denominator is that today’s generation do not respect gedolim like the past generations. The attitude isthe rabbonim don’t understand todays kids and if its not written in bold letters assur min hatorah then there is probably some rabbi who says I can do what I’m doing. And even with doraysas the attitude is – I’m fine. Getting to our discussion, todays kids (the tuna bagels, with it crowed) want some spirituality thats why they go to these concerts and to Uman. They laugh at those who protest for the simple reason ITS NOT USSER. You may not like it, I don’t like it, but it’s not usser.

  32. In addition, those that think by protesting they will be achieving anything I hate to tell them the only thing they achieve is that these kids laugh even harder.

  33. @takes2totango it taka takes 2 to tango because your comparison of the minhag of the old that became minhag kehalacha has absolutley no shayychusssss to the current trending thing of selichos with music, that has been adapted by a bunch of guys in their low 30s that do cash advances, and are looking for fulfillment. find me any minhag in klal yisroel that became halacha and compare it to todays trends? im not such a talmid chacham so i cannot think of anything offhand but i guarantee you its a lousy tzu shtell

  34. I believe the answer here is really very simple. EVERYONE who goes to Selichos must examine himself – what is he/she there for? Is it to have fun, to be entertained, to be with my friends (“everybody’s gonna be there”) to “not be bored” — well, it may feel good, but it ain’t Selichos! On the other hand, if it’s to connect to Hashem in a deeper way, or in a way that I can relate to, to truly feel the words I’m saying & ask Hashem for forgiveness – well, that’s it, you GOT IT!
    I personally love music, especially that of Carlebach & the like. However, I don’t like the “Carlebach musical Selichos.” I am also connected with Modzitz, perhaps the most musical Chassidus. Musical is an integral part of Avodas Hashem in Modzitz, not an accessory. Yet on Selichos night they only sing 3 parts of the Tefilla: “Slach Nah,” and “Kaddish” (at the end), which are usually new compositions by the Rebbe Shlita; and “B’Motzaei Yom Menucha” which is usually a long, older niggun. The rest is “nusach”, but a very special one indeed. Perhaps this way of both singing to open one’s heart to Hashem, but not to overdo it with guitars & dancing, can work for some (or most) of us.
    Shana Tova Tikasevu v’sichaseimu!

  35. anonymous jew9/3 10 04 pm
    ‘ judaism has become a joyless religion’you say. afre lepicha! Why, you have reform, christians (1st reformers) OO conservatives…so pick and choose what you feel will be joyful to you .Do what you want, enjoy what you feel comfortable with. ChannukaBush Easter seder. So what you comlaining?