Thursday, March 02, 2006

Carlebach Muqata Minyan on Friday Nights

I don't have the world's greatest voice.

I can carry a tune, daven as an OK shaliach tzibbur, and start songs to get other people singing. But never a solo...harmony...maybe.

My voice used to be better when I was a kid, and I was in a school choir (2 of them actually), and I used to be much better at it than today.

Anyone who's ever been lucky enough to spend a shabbat in Hevron, and daven at Me'arat HaMachpela on Friday nights has heard the amazing Hevron Carlebach minyan. Davening is one huge singing and dance experience that takes over 2 hours.

We enjoyed it so much, that like many places around the globe, we now have our own Carlebach minyan on Friday nights. We sing Kabbalat Shabbat, dance around a bit, and it's a very warm and friendly minyan.

Don't feel like singing out loud? No problem.

Don't want to dance? Fine with us!

The key to why a Carlebach minyan "works", comes from Shlomo Carlebach himself. He didn't have a great voice, but he understood that the collective voices of people davening in song together could sound great and make up for not everyone having a great voice.

At a Carlebach minyan, you don't need a great shaliach tzibbur, since everyone knows all the tunes...all you really need to do is start the first 2 or 3 words before the entire Beit Midrash joins in. Plus, we have kids as the Shaliach Tzibbur for Kabbalat Shabbat so they get over "stage fright" at an earlier age, with a supportive, friendly crowd.

That's the magic of a great Carlebach minyan...combined with the excitement of my youngest son knowing that he'll sit on my shoulders as we dance around and around.

It's been a long week - Shabbat is coming!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


yitz said...

Hey, in our Jersualem neighborhood we've had a Carlebach minyan since '97, [methinks]. What took you guys so long???


Eitan Ha'ahzari said...

Hey Muqata,
you probably did it a long time ago but I never realized you qualified me for your blogroll...until...I took a look at "Shma Yisrael." Good thinking and thank u so much!

Shabbat shalom, Eitan.

Tehilimzugger said...


MUST Gum Addict said...

We usually do a Carlebach minyan once or twice a year. Unfortunately, people around here aren't into 2 hour davenings on Friday nights...

Another reason for me to move to Israel!

Rebecca said...

Davening fri night at the kever was the most uplifting and spiritual davening I have ever had. Later that same night a bunch of us sat outside the kever and sang songs and I swear we heard noises coming from the kever as if they were singing zmirot along with us

Anonymous said...

Personally, I would probably light myself on fire if mincha/maariv took 2 hours on Friday nights. I would then be both (a) dead and (b) michalel shabbos. So it's probablky better this way. But to each thir own. I'm too tired after a really hard work week.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Elster - I hear you...but its SOOOOO good for the soul.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Shabbos.

the sabra said...

The epitome of the friday night davening in Maarat Hamachpela, is on Simchat Torah. I believe that "one has not seen the joy of the Torah as experienced in Chevron, has not seen true joy".

Anonymous said...

Muqata is right on. I've been leading/participating in a Shlomo minyan on friday nights for 6 years now, and it's literally the highlight of the week.

And if you can gauge the makeup of the audience - how many people are into it, and how many are dying to get home - you can adjust the length and number of songs to fit.

As for Elster - I appreciate your exhaustion and hunger, but as Shlomo said, "If you were out on a date with a beautiful girl, would you be checking your watch every five minutes? Is Shabbos any different?"


The key to why a Carlebach minyan "works" @ the maqutta, comes from Jammeel himself. He doesn't have a great voice, but he understood that being a heavily armed man makes up for not having a great voice.

Ger Tzadik said...

The tiny little minyan I daven with every Friday does Carlebach. It's amazing how much warmth you can pull out of a small group of guys who either don't know Hebrew, or can't sing for their lives. (The rabbi tops the second list. He's passionate about it. His voice? Horrid.)

I am not a singy-dancy guy at all, but now that I've done Carlebach more than any other style, I miss it when at a more straight-laced minyan.

I've been to a couple of Carlebach minyans that were already getting stale though. Everything seemed like an affectation, even the "dancing"...oh well.

ifyouwillit... said...

The key to why a Carlebach minyan "works", comes from Shlomo Carlebach himself. He didn't have a great voice, but he understood that the collective voices of people davening in song together could sound great and make up for not everyone having a great voice.

Very True. I often say that Friday night tefila is one of the few, if not only, that I enjoy and connect too. I can shut my eyes mid tefilla and memories will flood into my mind from Manchester, New York, Seattle, The Kotel, Crown Heights and even a field in which I have had the privilage experience shabbatot.

Anonymous said...

A lesson that everybody should definitely take to their respective minyanim around the globe is that they should not be afraid to switch around the tunes and even throw in non-Shlomo tunes - that is how he did it and that is one of the ways to ensure it does not become "stale."

Kamagra said...

Hey muqatak, i like too much your blogs because it has interesting topics, specially when you talk about Israel problems, i would like to give you my opinion and i am very grateful because your blogs help me a lot.

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