'We never kicked Shlomo Carlebach out of our yeshiva'

In an interview which was conducted with Rabbi Aharon Kotler, the president of Lakewood Yeshiva, he shatters a myth.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rabbi Aharon Kotler
Rabbi Aharon Kotler

In an interview conducted with the president of Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, a myth and legend that has been well-entrenched in the haredi world about famous Jewish composer and singer, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach being expelled from the Lakewood Yeshiva, was shattered.

After the supposed expulsion, Rabbi Carlebach is said to have then immediately composed the song, "Lulaei Torascha" while sitting on the steps outside the yeshiva.

Kotler, who is named after his grandfather, Rabbi Aharon Kotler who founded the campus, stressed that in fact "Shlomo Carlebach was never kicked out of Lakewood. Rav Aharon loved him. He was, as we all know, exceptionally musically inclined… I can imagine that at some point in his life, his musical interests and drive exceeded his desire to learn in Yeshiva."

In the interview, Rabbi Kotler reveals the special connection that existed between his grandfather and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and also explains the difference in norms between the yeshiva world in the United States and the yeshiva world in Israel.

"He played guitar in my parents' Sheva Brochos. They made a Kumzits. They closed the lights in the room, he sat on the floor. I do not know how studious he was. I was not there back then… Also, one of the important things to remember is that Lakewood is not a life system. Neither is Collel a life system for everybody, and certainly in Rav Aharon's days, people were in Yeshiva for a number of years and then they eventually left. That was the norm. So I have never checked the enrollment records of Shlomo Carlebach, whether he stayed longer than the norm or shorter than the norm, but he certainly was not kicked out of Lakewood."

The interview with Rabbi Kotler was conducted by Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt, assistant Rabbi of Park East Synagogue in Manhattan and as a part of the “Kikar Global” project of the haredi news website, 'Kikar HaShabbat'. Kikar Hashabbat explained: "This project was established with the aim of introducing the Jewish diaspora to the Israeli haredi sector. Religious Jews are symbols of mutual responsibility and of a desire to help each other, which is wonderful. However, Diaspora Jewry has been stigmatized as not really being Jewish. Of course, the truth is that Diaspora Jewry is a part of us. They are our brothers and sisters, and we have to know the challenges they are facing."