His followers called him "The Singing Rabbi" and "The King of Kosher Concerts." His goal was "Tikun Olam," to fix the whole world by making it a better place, by giving it a song, hundreds of songs, to sing. With love and joy, Shlomo Carlebach devoted his life to his music, a unique brand of Chasidic Jewish melodies, over four decades, in more than two dozen albums.
To learn how he embraced his heritage, go to the Circle in the Square Theatre, 50th Street west of Broadway, in New York City for the energizing and inspiring musical "Soul Doctor," featuring a book by Daniel S. Wise, lyrics by David Schechter and the music of Shlomo Carlebach.
The son of a rabbi, with a religious legacy dating back ten generations, the young Shlomo (Ethan Khusidman or Teddy Walsh) grew up in Austria as Hitler rose to power. Fleeing their home, the family landed in America where Shlomo deviated from the path of his father (Jamie Jackson), his mother (Jacqueline Antaramian) and his twin brother Eli Chaim (Ethan Khusidman or Teddy Walsh), to follow the Chasidic way with Rabbi Schneersohn to become a missionary of sorts to "save" Jewish souls on college campuses.
With a yarmulke on his head and a guitar in his hands, Shlomo, a dynamic but gentle Eric Anderson, invades the world of flower children and hippies, free spirits and drug addicts, offering them his blessing, preaching a message of love and peace. Along the way , he meets a young African-American jazz singer Nina Simone, played by a spiritually moving Amber Iman, and they are destined to profoundly change each other's lives.
The folk-singing rabbi, who started out decades earlier as a young Yeshiva student who wanted to learn the whole Torah from his teacher Reb Pinchas (Ron Orbach) ultimately betrays his father's heritage and becomes a rock star. Even his brother (Ryan Strand) can't convince him to change. How he embraces his vision of a better world is a story worth hearing under the astute direction of Daniel S. Wise. The music of Shlomo Carlebach soars with ruach (spirit).
For tickets ($39-135), call Circle in the Square Theatre at 212-239-6200 or online at www.telecharge.com or www.SoulDoctorBroadway.com. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Follow this folk singing rock star rabbi as he travels, from Vienna to Brooklyn, San Francisco to Russia to Jerusalem and back to Vienna, devoting his life to the magic of music as he hears it in his Jewish soul.