Neshama Carlebach Rocks Ebenezer Baptist
USCJ Biennial

Neshama Carlebach Rocks Ebenezer Baptist

Members of the Conservative movement dance in the aisles of MLK's church to Jewish and gospel music.

Leah R. Harrison

Leah Harrison is a reporter and copy editor for the Atlanta Jewish Times.

The words “gospel” and “Jewish” don’t typically go together, but the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism biennial didn’t stick to the typical Jewish music and liturgy.

Neshama Carlebach, her four-piece band and the Glory to G-d Gospel Singers showed how the combination of Jewish and gospel can rock a house of worship during a concert at Martin Luther King Jr.’s church, Ebenezer Baptist, in downtown Atlanta on Sunday night, Dec. 3.

In keeping with the legacy of her father, the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, to “uplift, inspire and bring joy to every human being,” Carlebach delivered soulful renditions of 10 songs and prayers ignited by her father and infused by her own style, sultry voice and musical soul. Ebenezer’s incredible acoustics enhanced the experience.

Congregation B’nai Torah Rabbi Joshua Heller follows USCJ CEO Rabbi Steve Wernick through the horah during the concert finale.

She told the crowd of Conservative rabbis, administrators, synagogue members and curious Atlantans how she first sang 30 days after her father died in 1994 and never stopped until her divorce five years ago. That’s when she first mourned her father. Carlebach said that mourning lasted four years.

Around a year ago she began to sing again, and “it’s been the most grateful time of my life,” Carlebach said. She has again been spreading the joy ever since.

Carlebach ended her set with a rousing rendition of “Am Yisrael Chai” that brought the crowd to its feet and left lines of smiling horah dancers in its wake.


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