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Shavuot – March of the Living Message from Neshama Carlebach

My dearest friends, near and far,

We are about to receive the Torah (the essence of G-d’s message to us), on the Holiday Shavuot this week. I wanted to share a little piece of my own recent Journey, heading towards the Mountain to receive the Word of G-d… Human beings are infinite. Our fears and disappointments may allow us to hide from our own powerful energy, but truly, we are infinite. Sadly, many of the trappings of this world, including the Words we depend on for our deepest communication are finite and limited. To say that your child is “extraordinary” or that a sunset is “beautiful” doesn’t even begin to describe the depths of that which we witness, or to express the breadth of our emotionality.

Still, there are moments that are (as my father would say) “Beyond the Beyond,” moments of infinite, abundant, Joy and Truth, where we can fully access the power of who we are. These moments are rare gifts but can be missed completely if we allow our own limitations to interfere. Personally, I beg for these moments, live for them, pray for them. They sustain me as a Mother, as an Artist, as a human being. We learn that where prayer (Tfilla) ends, song (Shira) begins. Music is often the only way to express the depth, the immense endlessness of all we long for, of all we can have inside. This is why I sing, I know we are all capable of so much more… The March of the Living is an organization I adore, I feel blessed to have worked with them and been inspired by the work and mission for many years. I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible Eli Rubinstein, who has supported and encouraged me since we met so many years ago…

Click here to see some of my March performances over the years.

This past month, through the March of the Living, I was blessed to have had the Infinite experience of a lifetime. I sang in Poland, on Yom Hashoah, for over 10,000 people at the Gates of Auschwitz. The first time I was in Poland with the March, it was an experience that completely demolished me emotionally and spiritually. I was so devastated that I could barely breathe for days. I walked through the camps like a ghost, cried over the piles of hair, mourning my father all over again while seeing him in every abandoned Tallis (prayer shawl.) I ripped my soul in half, sobbing while staring at the piles of glasses, wondering how anyone alive at that time could have seen the light or anything at all. I was swallowed by the depths of my pain. This time, on this trip, I watched from the outside (below are some photos from the stage.) I saw the Gates of Auschwitz, the heartbreaking train tracks, the barbed wire, the vast emptiness. But most of all, miraculously, I saw the light shining on the thousands of people who were there. They walked in by choice and would leave freely, unlike the thousands who perished in that same place, just a blink of an eye ago… This time I focused on what I wanted to give to those who had perished, to the ones who survived and to all the generations to come… This time I watched, this time I grew, this time I received. My return to that dark place was different, I felt the light of G-d, I felt hope.

Click here to see some of that performance.

In 1990 my father traveled to Poland. His desire was to heal the relationship between the Jews and non Jews there, to show them that there was love, despite all the pain… An intense perspective to have as one who survived the that time himself, I never stop admiring his strength and incredible deep vision… While standing in Myjdanek death camp, he said he could hear the 6 million crying… He wrote a sad sad song to cry with them, stood in the corner of one of the barracks, singing with tears streaming down his face. Then, later, in Krakow he was sharing this new song and he had another Infinite Moment- he said he could again see the souls of the 6 million, but this time shining “from one corner of the world to the other”, laughing, dancing. In his words, he said he heard “Shlomele- this is not the way you go to the Promised Land… You need to cry, but then you need to dance… you need to dance…“ Then the second, joyous part of the Krakow Niggun came to his heart. The world continues to sing it, all these years later.

This message is profound. We cry, we mourn, but then, we pick ourselves up and with superhuman strength, we dance, we celebrate all we have learned, all we can become. Then from this place of acceptance, of vision, of newness, we can open our hearts to G-d, to His Torah, to The Gifts of this World, to the Peace all of Humanity is so ready to receive. From this place of Peace, we can be One, we can find our individual and collective Redemption.

My Journey to the Mountain has different significance to me this year, next week, right after Shavuot, I will have the honor of visiting Japan for the first time, as the Jewish Faith Representative for the Symphony of Peace Prayers. I’ll be offering music and prayers to over 20,000 people gathering at the base of Mt. Fuji, all there to break through all our self imposed boundaries and change the face of the universe with prayer. I had to plan everything I would say, as it will be translated into almost every language. I cried over every word, here is a little piece of what I will share:

  • When we are born, every one of us, we are filled with light and the desire to share it. Sadly, in this world too many of us grow confused, become filled with disappointment and feel alone. Too many of us, from too early an age, create the protective boundaries that block our Soul’s light from the world and sometimes from ourselves. To heal our world, to bring One-ness, we need to connect ourselves with that light and recognize its presence in every human being. We must learn to laugh with one half of our hearts and cry with the other, to acknowledge the hardships that we have faced but then celebrate that we are surviving, that we are able to grow and transcend.
  • We must recognize the blessing inside this struggle. This is a gift to us, an essential gift that is sometimes difficult to unwrap.
  • Today, may we, collectively, Return Again to this Peace and from there, together, may we thrive, may we heal, may we love, may we uplift, may we unite, may we dream, may we pray, may we sing…

I feel like I’m changing constantly, learning so much about myself. Sometimes I almost don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror. I’ve been working on this letter to you for almost three weeks, if you can believe it, maybe I’ve been searching for the words to deliver this thought for lifetimes. I feel blessed to be a Holy Messenger, to share this Torah with all of you, to cry and laugh, to sing and to be on the Front Lines with so many others who are also trying to change the world. I pray I can help to bring Peace for all the Holy people who came (and died) before us and even more, for our children and their children…

May this Shavuot create the opening for all of us to receive this message and the deepest essence of G-d’s Presence. I believe it is already within each and every one of us. I pray that our world has an Infinite Breakthrough and one by one, all of G-d’s children see this truth as well. Until that Great moment comes, we will continue to sing…

With love, light, laughter and tears, Neshama

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