"If you want this year's seder to be different from all other sedarim, then this is the Haggadah for you and your family."
- Doreen Wachmann, Jewish Telegraph
"Unlike much posthumous Carlebach-related literature, the haggadah does an excellent job of allowing the reader to hear Reb Shlomo's genuine voice, rather than a second or third-person account of stories about Rabbi Carlebach. The warmth, wisdom, and depth of Reb Shlomo that admirers have come to cherish are well represented by the collection, much of which Rabbi Carlebach quotes in the name of various Hasidic masters."
- Jonathan Stein, Lookstein Jewish Education Digest
"The Carlebach Haggadah brings you the diversity in Shlomo stories that made him a legend in his time. Shlomo's Haggadah places the entire seder story in the mouths of children and families in every possible historical circumstance that the Jews have experienced in ancient and modern history. Shlomo pictures a child asking the four questions while in hiding in a cellar from Nazi persecution, or a child en route to Eretz Yisrael, or in the personage of our forefather Yitzhak asking questions of his father Avraham. The Shlomo stories laced within the text of the Carlebach Haggadah add the tears mixed with joy that remain the essence of Pesach observance. Even if you have Haggadahs of every kind, the Carlebach Haggadah on your seder table will add something to it."
- David Bedein, Voices
"The book presents the haggadic text with running commentaries by Rabbi Carlebach in his signature combination of folksy, freestyle jam and melancholy prose.... A typical line reads, "When you see someone's tears flowing down from their eyes, gevalt, they're really going up to Heaven." Tears yes, but redemption too.
Nary an academic analysis is presented in this volume. Rather, Rabbi Carlebach's gentle stories of hidden tzadikkim (righteous men), lonely children and concentration camp prisoners, pack their philosophical punches under cover of folk wisdom. Take, for example, his commentary on the "Four Sons" - one wise, one evil, one simple and one incapable of asking questions. Reb Carlebach sees the children's questions as criticisms of parents whose efforts failed, despite years of encouraging, supporting and embracing their children. In Rabbi Carlebach's rendition, when the wise son asks about the meaning of the Passover laws, he is really questioning why his parents concentrated on his intellectual life at the expense of his emotional one. "Why," Rabbi Carlebach has him ask, "Did you give us just words?" Similarly, when the evil son attempts to undermine the function of the laws themselves ("What purpose is this work to you?"), Rabbi Carlebach explains that he is actually asking, "Why didn't you ever tell me how holy I could be?"
Basically, parents can't win. But do not despair. As Rabbi Carlebach says, 'My blessing for you is to sit, husbands and wives and children together, with lots of simcha [happiness], and may you feel every second the deepest redemption.'"
- Shira Klapper, Forward
"The singer-preacher's words are left to speak for themselves, without illustration. His twin themes are the joy of Judaism and love of one's fellow beings - although the folksy style won't be to everyone's taste. There are stories of modern Israel and 18th-century Poland, and also of spiritual resistance in the Holocaust - of the rabbi who lit a Chanucah candle in Auschwitz, or a man who continued to learn Talmud up until he went to the gas chamber.
"You see, my sweetest friends, the last wish of the six million is to finish all the tractates of the Talmud for them," comments Reb Shlomo. But elsewhere he remarks: "Let's not talk about killers. Are they what makes a Jew? Do you think I'll bring peace into the world by telling my children about the Inquisition?""
- Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle
"...those who love him will cry when they "hear" Reb Shlomo speaking through this book. The Carlebach Haggadah presents Reb Shlomo's own unique hassidic approach.
Here he is explaining Dayenu: "Imagine if I knew the Torah was given only for me - how I would throw myself at every word! How I would cry over every word to understand it. When I receive a letter from someone I love, I can't stop reading it. This is how we have to learn Torah, as a love-letter from God to us."
If you liked the Hagaddah of the Chasidic Masters..., you will surely love this Carlebach."
- Reuven Ben Dov, Jerusalem Post
"The Carlebach Haggadah: Seder Night with Reb Shlomo (Urim) is edited by students and disciples of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, based on recordings and their recollections of his teachings. This Haggadah includes the traditional text in both Hebrew and English at the top of the pages, and, on the bottom half, commentary by Reb Shlomo, in the form of stories, parables and insights. The prose captures the rhythms and particular accent of Reb Shlomo's voice, with his frequent use of words like yidden for Jews, heliger for holy, and, also, gevalt. Those who knew Reb Shlomo, as well as those who are meeting him for the first time in these pages, will find much to inspire their celebration of the holiday.
The commentary on the 'Maggid' section states, "Do you know what we're saying? 'All who are hungry, come and eat.' Is there anybody in the world who needs food? Is there anybody in the world who is broken and needs a friend? Tonight is the night! My door is open, my heart is open. It's open because all the gates of Heaven are open. On Seder night I'm so real, I'm so close. Heaven and Earth are close to each other." "What was the first great thing Avraham did after he became a Jew? The Torah tells us: the first thing he did was to welcome strangers into his home. Whatever you do that's between you and other people, that's what you're doing between you and God.""
- Sandee Brawarsky, The Jewish Week
"Readers will greatly appreciate Reb Shlomo's profound lessons on the meaning of true freedom. The Carlebach Haggadah is an enthusiastically recommended addition to personal and small group Judaic Studies reading lists and reference collections."
- James Cox, Midwest Book Review
"Devotees of Reb Shlomo with be thrilled with this new Haggadah. I couldn't put it down after beginning to read the first page. The style of writing is Shlomo's style of speaking. One can hear his voice through the pages. Every section of the Haggadah has Shlomo's style of story breaking through. Hasidic stories, of love of God, love of Jews, healing humanity, loving our family, cleansing our souls. It is a book of passionate clinging to God and seeing new ideas of holiness in every word.
Even in the songs after the Seder, there are stories and interpretations. In "Ehad mee yoday-a?" we find a discussion of the Two Tablets "Who knows Ten?" They are the two Tablets of the Covenant. Says Shlomo: "The Torah says that the two tablets were like a heart, and the Ten Commandments were carved into them, not written on them." You have to obey these commandments as if they were carved into your heart. "If you keep every Shabbos to the letter of the law but it isn't carved into your heart, you haven't kept Shabbos. It has to be carved in until you realize, 'I can never do without it'; until it reaches the deepest, highest place in your heart. This is keeping Shabbos."
There are many stories which are too lengthy to repeat, or even summarize here. They are gems. One can feel the fire burning in Shlomo's heart as he retells these stories. The book is on fire. Touch it only at your peril, only if you want to be inspired and fall in love again, with God, The Jewish People, and the world."
- Dov Peretz Elkins, Jewish Media Review
"The recently published Carlebach Haggadah consists primarily of Chassidic stories and of contemporary stories relating Jewish life in Europe before and during the holocaust, in the State of Israel, in Russia, and in America. The proliferation of Carlebach minyanim in recent years attests to the quest for spirituality in the modern Jewish community. This Haggadah attempts to fulfill that need for participants in the Pesach seder. As such, it does not present intellectual commentaries on the text of the Haggadah, but rather emotional stories designed to heighten the spirituality of the seder.
Themes that are prevalent in the stories that are recorded in the Haggadah include: The Power of the Moment: The Pesach seder as a commemoration of a spiritual event that transformed a people from the lowest level of impurity to the highest level of holiness. The Power of the Common Man: The spiritual strength and inspiration of the common Jew. The Beauty of the Child: The importance of parenting which recognizes the good and beauty of each child. This concept relates as well to the relationship between G-d, the father, and His children, the Jewish people. The Carlebach Haggadah also includes a clearly printed Hebrew text, an English translation, and clear instructions on the halachic requirements of the seder."
- Rabbi Stanley Peerless, Torah Community Connections
"As a collection of Shlomo's stories and Torah, [The Carlebach Haggadah] is really a beautiful book to have. It begins with a story about a Texan who doesn't keep Shabbat. He is drawn to going to the mikvah to do something holy, and from then on, the book doesn't stop. Page after page of anecdotal stories from Reb Shlomo's meetings with Jews all around the world and Hassidic tales from olden days. This is all mixed in with divrei Torah, and spoken with the sixties Shlomo style holy-brother, holy-sister voice, giving it the dreamy quality that many Shlomo fans will be familiar with. The print is pleasant and makes a change from the standard Artscroll font that seems to dominate Hebrew-English books.
For those who like to sit back and read something holy during the seder--this would really lift one of the highest nights of the year, adding something special and sweet. We live in an age where we could all do with a little more of Shlomo Carlebach's love and joy at our religious occasions. This year our seder was mamash gevaldik, thanks to the Rav."
- Jake Baum, Le'ela
"The haggadah I'm using this year is The Carlebach Haggadah, just published, which is completely outstanding. There are Carlebach minyanim sprouting all over the place these days, and growing numbers of people who are familiar with some of Reb Shlomo's music, without having a real sense of what his teaching was about. The number of books about him continues to grow steadily, but they're a mixed bag. This haggadah pulls together much of his teaching about Pesach and links it to the haggadah text. As such, it is both a tremendous haggadah qua haggadah, and it's also, I think, a superb introduction to Reb Shlomo's teaching in general. I met Reb Shlomo only a handful of times in his life, but I was deeply influenced by him: his teaching at Yakar in Jerusalem in August 1994 changed my life. This haggadah accurately catches his teaching: sometimes meandering, sometimes unclear, but shot through and through with beauty, truth, inspiration, originality, wisdom, generosity...you get the idea.
- Nigel Savage, Amazon.com
"If, however, you're the sort of person who likes to sit quietly while everyone else is talking, but when you finally do speak, you blow everybody's minds, then "The Carlebach Haggadah" is right up your alley. Shlomo Carlebach, the famed composer of many Friday-night service melodies, is arguably the best Jewish storyteller of his generation. This Haggadah takes his casual, talky voice and translates it into a bottom-half-of-the-page commentary, remixing his speeches and performances into the pertinent parts of the Haggadah.
But Carlebach's commentary is more about passing on wisdom than about telling stories and that wisdom finds a place in nearly every part of the Seder- from the difference between getting drunk on God and just getting drunk, to places where he turns the Seder on its head by saying, "Let me ask You four questions, God." His commentary reads less like a standard decryption and more like a DVD director's cut.
A brief warning: Carlebach's anecdotes can sometimes meander and aren't always well-suited to a group who's champing at the bit, impatient to reach the festive meal. But the commentary is clear and relevant."
- Matthue Roth, World Jewish Digest