PEACE HAS TO COME FROM THE INSIDE
“There’s the phrase in Tehillim [Psalms]. It’s one of my most favourite phrases: ‘ Y’hi shalom b’chelech, shalva b’armenotayich.’ [‘May there be peace in our borders and tranquility in our castles.’] It’s like you can’t have one without the other. To be real, peace has to come from the inside and has to flow out into the whole world. You don’t have real peace if on the outside you are smiling and on the inside you’re falling apart. And you don’t have real peace on the inside when you’re acting angrily and you’re screaming at people…even road rage, you know, takes you out of your source, takes you out of where your power has to be. We’re not meant to be angry, we’re not meant to judge, we’re not meant to be broken all the time. We are meant to fly—all of us. And I’m grateful that we have the capacity.”
Neshama Carlebach is a beautiful soul who is destined to change the world. I was first exposed to the amazing music of her father, the acclaimed Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, as it made its way through my experiences in Jewish youth group and at camp. Then a close friend gave me an album of Neshama singing her father’s melodies with Brooklyn’s Green Hills Baptist Choir. As a Jew who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, I was deeply moved by both the singing and the sentiment of what it means to praise the Divine together, not as separate communities. Neshama is someone who is drawn to where the change must happen. I love her unshakeable spirit and belief in the way things can be. Her faith journey is all of our faith journeys—we are born to a great legacy, challenged to discover our true selves, and be released to fulfill our great destinies.
Years after this portrait and interview, Neshama has become a very dear friend of whom I am profoundly grateful. Not because she is a famous singer, but because she is a true seeker and lover of humanity. In the past years she has had to confront difficult truths raised about her father. This, in turn, brought her face-to-face with her own #MeToo moments and abuses by others. I have seen this friend and public figure honestly and forcefully engage in dialogue with those who wish to stop singing her father’s music and those who cannot imagine a world without it. I have seen her create a new body of music that is uniquely hers and which is an expression of her seeking. And, finally, I have seen her join in marriage with her best friend, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, a union which blesses their five children, and all of us.
Thank you, Neshama Carlebach, for helping me believe even more than ever that there is no “other,” and we are all responsible for each other.