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shocheradam

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PostSubject: Music that speaks to your conversion?   Fri May 02, 2014 5:13 pm

I'm a musician first, and always have been. Lately, I've been looking into Jewish popular music, and discovered an amazing Reform singer named Neshama Carlebach. Her song "Return Again" hit me so hard that I almost couldn't breathe, because that feeling I've been describing as "The pull"? The feeling I couldn't find words for? Well, this song describes it completely and exactly.

Return to who you are
Return to what you are
Return to where you are born and reborn again


That's what the pull is. It's a call for me to return. I recommend the song; you can find it on Spotify or YouTube. (The rest of her music is awesome too.)

Anyone out there have a song or a singer who speaks to your conversion?
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Music that speaks to your conversion?   Sun May 04, 2014 12:18 am

I do not believe it is accurate to call Neshama Carlebach "Reform". She is the daughter of the well-known and revered Orthodox rabbi Shlomo Carlebach who expressed his deep spirituality through beautiful and moving melodies that he created for singing many traditional verses and liturgy as well as wordless nigunim. He is the one to whom Daniel Eliezer wants to introduce members of this forum. Neshama has clearly inherited her father's musical gifts and ability to express Jewish feeling through music.

Neshama performed at a biennial conference of Reform Judaism and expressed a feeling of unity with those Jews which seems to have been misinterpreted as her completely self-identifying as a Reform Jew and implying abandonment of the Orthodox Judaism in which she was raised. See these two articles: How I Became a Reform Jew and Neshama Carlebach sets record straight The latter article suggests that she still lives an observant lifestyle, so I think most of us would still call her an Orthodox Jew. Note that her father believed strongly in Klal Yisrael as well and sought to create connections with Jews who were not traditionally observant. So her reactions to Reform Judaism are in keeping with her father's legacy. See this wiki article about Shlomo Carlebach: Reb Shlomo

My traditional egalitarian lay-led minyanim use a wide variety of tunes for liturgy and for general singing such as at the Shabbat table (where it is traditional to sing some Shabbat songs between the meal and the Birkat HaMazon grace) or in the various appropriate tunes to verses from the relevant Torah portions that my minyan often ends up singing during the wrapping of the Torah. I have found that many of those tunes are "Carlebach" tunes. We especially use Carlebach tunes for Kabbalat Shabbat service. For Lecha Dodi, we typically using two different Carlebach tunes starting with one and ending with another. Here is one Carlebach tune for Lecha Dodi:
Carlebach Lecha Dodi
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shocheradam

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PostSubject: Re: Music that speaks to your conversion?   Sun May 04, 2014 10:55 am

The way I read it, she identified herself as a Reform Jew. (As a side note, I find it a little distressing that "observant" is so automatically used as a rejection of "Reform." Why is it that "observant" must necessarily mean "Orthodox"?)

I was just saying that this particular song calls to me and speaks to how I feel when I consider conversion.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Music that speaks to your conversion?   Sun May 04, 2014 6:46 pm

Sorry for having brought up the tangential topics of what is Reform and what is "observant". I have started a new topic in a different forum area:
Reform Judaism and traditional observances

Back to the original topic of the Neshama Carlebach song:
the concept of "teshuva" (= "return") is very powerful in Judaism. I think that most converts feel that they are becoming who they were meant to be, so that it is less about change than "return". A Jew who is "baal teshuva" is one who was formerly secular or less observant who becomes religious.

I have a friend who is a lesbian and Orthodox. She is a baalat teshuva having been brought up in a not particularly observant Conservative Jewish family. I have discussed my feelings about my conversion with her and she says that it does seem to be very similar to her experiences of both "coming out" as gay and "coming out as frum" (becoming Orthodox). I think she would call all of those experiences "teshuva". She became Orthodox, then got married and had two kids, before coming to realize and admit to herself that she was gay. She stayed Orthodox, but left behind her husband and children in Israel only re-establishing a relationship with her children recently now that they are adults. She may have stayed away from her children for their sake since most Orthodox communities have negative reactions to anyone who is even related to someone who is homosexual. In fact, she and her partner were threatened with physical harm when they tried to join an Orthodox community in Israel.

Anyway, perhaps you will find parallels in finding your religious identity with coming into an understanding of yourself as a gay man.
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