Kiddush With Reb Shlomo
01/11/2013 - 14:06
Sandee Brawarsky
The kiddish cup designed to honor Reb Shlomo fits in the palm of a hand. Photo courtesy Jonathan Greenstein
The kiddish cup designed to honor Reb Shlomo fits in the palm of a hand. Photo courtesy Jonathan Greenstein

Shabbat dinner with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach usually involved at least 50 people, maybe many more, according to his daughter, the singer Neshama Carlebach. It was Reb Shlomo’s custom to make kiddush and then pass around his wine, even if symbolically, to make sure that everyone had even a drop of the sanctified wine.

On January 14th, on what would have been his 88th birthday, in the year of his 18th yahrzeit, a silver Kiddush cup created to honor his memory and his Shabbat tradition will be released.

The “cup of love and prayer,” designed and created by Jonathan Greenstein, who heads an antique and Judaica gallery in Cedarhurst, together with Neshama Carlebach, has a rounded bottom, to fit in the palm of a hand. Greenstein, who describes himself as a “Shlomo chassid forever,” explains that the goblet was inspired by the distinctive way Reb Shlomo would hold a kiddush cup, cupping his right hand around the bottom. Some say this is the traditional way to hold it for the ritual

“I remember that there was silence when he would say kiddush. Everything would stop, all the bustle around him,” Neshama Carlebach recalls. “It was a moment to be shared.”

“He wasn’t able to give physically from his cup to every person, hand to hand, but that was his intention, to give everybody that drop that they needed.”

She hopes that when people use the newly-designed cup, they’ll pass it, and perhaps make eye contact or touch hands with people around them, that “people will have a moment with another.”

Reb Shlomo was known to value the spiritual over the material. Neshama Carlebach says they have a kiddush cup from his family, but he was not attached to things. Since they traveled so much for Shabbat, he might have been making kiddush out of a Styrofoam cup, but he still held it that same way.

“He made a Styrofoam cup look like it was made of silver and gold,” she says.

“The cup of love and prayer,” named for the shul he founded in San Francisco in the 1960s, is handmade in a limited edition, with a list price of $2500. For the table, the cup sits in a wooden base, made of maple.

At the gallery celebration, several new previously unreleased recordings of his music will be available, from Sojourn Records.

The celebration at J. Greenstein Cedarhurst Gallery is open to the public, 417 Central Avenue, Cedarhurst, on Monday, January 14th, from 8 to 10 pm.

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Should we not have observed Reb Shlomo's Hebrew birthday which was 18th Tevet and this year came out on Dec. 31, 2012?

I put together the seudot for Reb Shlomo at his Shul in New York, as Manager of the Carlebach Shul. 1-Most often, we had upwards of 70 participants and often 90 - the maximum we could accommodate. 2- Of course their was silence when he made Kiddush. When is their not silence when one is making Kiddush? Only among the ridiculously lacking in basic and essential respect. 3- Only among those that either don't know or don't pay attention to the details, does one NOT hold the kiddush cup in the palm of their hand. 4- One is required to drink from sanctified wine or grape juice. How does one assure each drinks from that? It was only a logistical issue. So there were multiple bottles of grape juice (Shlomo didn't drink wine or alcohol, at all) and by pouring a bit from his cup after he said the Kiddush blessing, into each bottle and then passed the bottles to each table, each person would have sanctified fruit of the grape.

And finally: 5- At the last Rosh HaShana seuda Shlomo was in the world for, later during the meal, he said suddenly: "Yidden! Be careful! You can make Avodas Zara (Strange worship) out of the Torah. You can even make it out of God!" He was signaling that he was soon to be gone from this world and he was cautioning us not to make a 'god' out of him.

We honor Shlomo less by assigning to him acts that were not extraordinary and making them extraordinary. We need not do so, for his Torah teachings and his personal way of being were more, indeed ARE, more than enough to illuminate the gift that he was. And let it be clear: Ultimately, it his Torah teachings that are what remains of him, alive in this world. Yes, we can listen to his records and his stories. We can read about him. But he was about Torah - first, last and always. And who he was and how he was, emerged and lived because of the Torah endowed to him by his teachers - his Rabbaim, his Rebbes', particularly, Rebbe Nachman and the Ishbitzer. I invite the inquisitive and the argumentative to question or comment directly to me at Chodesh Tov u'Mevorach, y'all.

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