An Enlightening Moment with Neshama Carlebach

Posted on Apr 06, 2022

Neshama Carlebach is an award-winning singer, songwriter and educator who has performed and taught in cities around the world. A winner and four-time nominee in the Independent Music Awards for her release, Believe, and winner of the Global Music Awards Silver Award for Outstanding Performance, she has performed at major Jewish music festivals across the United States and globally. As a teenager she performed alongside her father, the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. As the first then-Orthodox woman of her generation to perform for a mixed-gender audience, Neshama has sparked public conversations into the place of women in Judaism and in the world. She and her husband, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, live in New York with their five children. 

Neshama is the granddaughter-in-law of Clara Creditor, profiled in the last issue of Chadashot, who sadly passed away.  May her memory be a blessing.  

What are three things you learned from Clara that you will teach your children?

I feel so blessed to be asked about my Savta Kuneh, Clara Creditor, z”l.  Menachem and I were married in 2018 and sadly, I only met Clara a few times over these short years. Since her passing, I learned much more about Clara and her life than I knew while she was alive. I just wish I had known her better. It’s an honor to share parts of her life story that were especially inspirational to me.

Clara worked tirelessly and endlessly for and with the Jewish community. She did so with grace and humility, not seeking power for herself, but rather driven to do whatever was needed. Repeatedly, stories are told about how understated and passionate she was. Her strength was expressed through selfless giving. In a selfish world, Clara strove to be present for others. What a rare and holy trait.

After Clara’s husband Henry, our Sabbah Tzvi, left the world 31 years ago, she decided to learn to drive for the first time in her life! My mother-in-law, Ruby Eisenberg-Creditor, taught her to drive. She was determined. Clara never stopped living her best life and made her choices accordingly. I deeply admire her courage and fierce independence.

Clara’s spiritual connection to Judaism and love of JTS not only inspired her son, my father-in-law, Rabbi Gary Creditor, to pursue his career in the rabbinate; but also infused spirituality into the hearts of her grandchildren, Rabbi Menachem Creditor (my beloved husband) and Rabbi Yonina Creditor (my awesome sister-in-law). All three currently lead lives of service to and with the Jewish community; all live to give back to our beautiful and broken world. Countless lives have been changed and countless souls have been uplifted by Clara’s children and grandchildren. And all in her holy name.

May the soul of Clara Creditor continue to inspire, teach, and delight us all. May her love of Judaism carry forward to all the generations to come. May her memory be a blessing always.

For the Torah Fund celebration of its volunteers last year, you created songs for the program. How did you do that?

It has been so special to participate in several Torah Fund events during the pandemic! I admire the exquisite work and sense of achdut—unity and togetherness—you were able to create even at a distance. You are all just amazing!  I don’t accompany myself instrumentally, so for the hundreds of events in which I performed online, I sang live to prerecorded backing tracks, specially created by the musicians I have worked with over the years.  While it has been painful to be separated, I have felt extremely blessed to be able to connect and share music in this way.

What are the words of wisdom you live by?

Cultivating gratitude and acknowledging life’s most meaningful gifts has propelled me forward throughout my life. Feeling grateful for my family, for my children most of all, has truly carried my heart through the pandemic. When we can focus on what we have and on that which brings us joy, we can truly get through anything. As we walk forward, hopefully, into a new era of health and reunification with our communities, I pray that we carry a new sense of gratitude for each other and the unique gifts each human being offers. I feel hopeful and inspired for all that lies ahead.  

Back to Chadashot