You’ve Come a Long Way, Sister: 20 Years After Carlebach Allegations, His Daughter Hears #MeToo

On Tuesday, Lilith’s founder Susan Weidman Schneider sent out an email, subject line “and now, Neshama Carlebach weighs in.” She was writing to Managing Editor Naomi Danis and to Sarah Blustain, who reported for Lilith in 1998 about allegations of sexual harassment against famed rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and the response from his daughter—twenty years later. “Want to respond?” Susan wrote. 

The daughter’s belated response brought up a slew of memories about what it was like to report on sexual harassment before #MeToo, in a community that only now is beginning to reckon with the dark side of its spiritual leader.

9 comments on “You’ve Come a Long Way, Sister: 20 Years After Carlebach Allegations, His Daughter Hears #MeToo

  1. Amy Stone on

    Good to have – finally – Neshama Carlebach confront the issue of her father’s sexual improprieties and to have the three Lilith women involved 20 years ago in the reporting, editing and withstanding of threats for outing Carlebach posthumously recount the bravery needed on all sides. The heated responses in the Times of Israel to Neshama’s blog are powerful reminders of just how entrenched Judaism’s patriarchal essence remains and the need to keep working for change.

  2. Susan Proctor on

    Thank you for your courage to publish this story. I am so proud to feel a very real connection to Lilith , to Susan & Naomi.

  3. Cyn Stern on

    I have a vague memory of an article I read in Lilith Magazine in the Nineties, about a (living?) rabbi was was often accused of groping women. His excuse was that these women seemed to be the embodiment of the Shekhina, and that he just couldn’t help himself–so overcome was he with feelings of…religious fervor(!). I do not recall the name of that rabbi, and–as I said–my memory of that article is vague. It is SO vague that maybe my recollection of reading about it in Lilith is incorrect…it may have been in Tikkun Magazine. But does any of the above ring a bell?

  4. Alexandra Esser on

    This story and the one about the Womantasch are among the best stories I’ve ever read in my life. It made me a subscriber for life. I was abused as a child and just hearing stories about it so professionally and written with so much wisdom and love and courage changes my and the world! Thank you again from the bottom of my heart <3 <3 <3

  5. Zconk on

    When the daughter of a record producer who raped me at 16 contacted me, 45 years after his assault on me, memories flooded back and I’ve been in therapy ever since. I never dreamed that anyone who knew that man would stand before me in my life…just to say hello and that she remembered my music fondly as a young girl. One part of me wanted to blurt out to her what her father had done to me but my more rational self asked if it was her, the daughter’s, fault and should I lay it on her plate to deal with? Would I make it her responsibility to apologize to me from her father’s “sins”? My answer was, “Absolutely not!” She was but a child at that time. More importantly, the daughter who had nothing to do with the rape. I played guitar with Shlomo when I was 16, around the same time of the rape. Shlomo did not touch me inappropriately, though a rabbi friend of his tried to. Would I feel better if I asked for the now grown woman to acknowledge that her father did to me what men (not all men) do to females? Neshama has her own path and in singing the songs of her father to the masses does not mean that she never knew or never not acknowledged the dark side of her father. It was her family’s decision. Shouldn’t one abide by their family’s decision to be silent or not without taking total blame for doing so? How long should the daughter carry around the father’s improprieties? Did she ever stand before the masses and ask us to not talk about it just because she followed her family’s manner in the handling of his behavior? I can’t say that I am proud to read this and I cannot see myself standing in line with you in making it her problem. No, rape never leaves my subconsciousness yet I’m done with blaming and seeking personal retribution for such acts. I am a grown woman who has sought out healing and Shlomo served a part of my life I never looked at before his death. My connection to G-d. Neshama is not your captive. Release her name from her father’s deeds. Never forget but know who to blame and shame. The person himself. He’s dead. You may not publish this because I am not in total agreement. That’s okay. I’ve just strengthened my resolve to stand up for victims more than I already do and to know who to hold responsible.

  6. Eva Grayzel on

    He is lucky to be dead and not have the embarrassment of defending himself. What defense could he make? These many girls and young women were coming onto him? I’m proud to know and read Lilith.

  7. Daniel Greenberg on

    I hope it isn’t against the rules to post a link on here – I have been slightly troubled about the possible normalising effect of the Me Too movement, and it seems to me that Neshama Carlebach’s approach of emphasising “two sides” to her father risks appearing to want to take advantage of it – here is the link to my post about it – (if it’s against your rules I imagine someone will remove it) – many thanks – Daniel Greenberg

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