About this community

This is a grassroots friends of friends community, based on Friday night gatherings in peoples homes in London (Belsize Park, West Hampstead) every few weeks. Sometimes we have shabbat camping trips on beaches / mountains/ forests/ vineyards. The Carlebach Minyan is run by a group of friends as a labour of love. The people in the community bring, create and contribute everything. Everyone brings food to our pot luck meals, everyone brings their ideas and talents. We welcome people of all ages from babies to grandparents.

We have Carlebach Minyans (a generic term, they have them all over the world) where we sing the Friday night service to the melodies written by the songwriter Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (see article). He was the hippy singing rabbi who ran the House of Love and Prayer in San Francisco in the 1960s where he inspired people to go back to their Jewish roots.

Shlomo Carlebach traveled North America telling stories, reaching out to Jews of all persuasions (including those with no affiliation), and using his talents to create melodies that touched his listeners … across the denominational spectrum.

What we do: Friday night services (followed by dinner) in London NW3, countryside shabbat retreats, Pesach seders, poetry slam Friday nights, “teatime salons” where we have talks and workshops all day. Plus a Shavuot Retreat in Tuscany in May 2010.

For the past two years on High Holidays, we were part of a group of people who created independent Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services, AKA Grassroots Jews -together with other grassroots groups Wandering Jews and Moishe House. Yossi Chajes led our services.

Jonathan Boyd recently mentioned us in an article: “I went along to the Carlebach minyan a few weeks ago, and participated in a kabbalat shabbat service that could proudly stand alongside the best of what Jerusalem or Tzfat has to offer. There were 100 or so people present, packed into a small living room, overflowing out into the garden, singing so vibrantly and passionately that the room itself was literally reverberating with excitement. This was grassroots, informal, non-ideological Judaism at its best and most vibrant.”

“We are about participation. The Grassroots Jews service on Rosh Hashana was really good. It was not always slick – it was a little haphazard around the edges – but we don’t want it to be slick. We want it to be participatory. We like the haphazardness. The idea of services being ‘excellent’ feels very New York corporate. People involved in independent minyanim are not buying a ticket; they are not
buying a £400 membership and saying ‘right, here is my money; I want a service.’ We are so anti-that; that is so consumerist. We are about participation. You come along, you bring your humous, you bring your lasagne. You are giving something of yourself. That is what creates a really nice community.” GP, speaking at a roundtable discussion on independent minyanim.

Sarah Tyler from London says: “Coming to a Carlebach Friday night was the first time, outside of the States, that I knew what it was like to feel something during a service. The music and ruach are absolutely beautiful. I find the whole experience uplifting and in some ways very cathartic. I find the people who go an open, intelligent, creative and engaging crowd of people to be with. To me, Carlebach feels like a meaningful collective expression of what is good about being Jewish in London today.”

 

 

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