Independence Day Services in Lechu Neranana Synagogue

The Lechu Neranana Synagogue - The Carlebach Minyan in Givat Shmuel

The Lechu Neranana Synagogue is a dynamic and growing kehila (community) located in Givat Shmuel, in close proximity to Bar-Ilan University. The community is comprised of an enthusiastic nucleus of families and is constantly growing from week to week. Members include Israeli born sabras as well as olim from numerous countries, such as the U.S., Great Britain, France, Australia, Belgium, Venezuela, and Russia, amongst others.

Our synagogue offers a unique setting for conducting tefilot (prayer services) in an atmosphere of simcha (joy and happiness). This is largely achieved by the incorporation of the tunes and nusach of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach throughout the tefilot (Friday night-kabbalat shabbat services, Shabbat morning prayers, festival and high-holidays). Rabbi Carlebach was not only a famed musician and singer but was a torah scholar and spiritual counselor to thousands the world over. It is not only the wonderful tunes of Rabbi Carlebach that are infused throughout the services but also we have caused a revival of tunes of various chassidic sects that were almost lost due to the holocaust. The prayer services serve as a spiritual uplifting to all those attending, children, teenagers and adults alike. We attract every shabbat large crowds of students from nearby Bar-Ilan University and try to be a home away from home for many of them (in particular those studying from abroad). We have much gratification by our ability to especially involve children from the youngest possible ages in the prayer services. The synagogue has gained wide recognition all over Israel. Just recently Cantor Hainovitz from Jerusalem’s prominent Yehsurun Synagogue sought an invitation for himself to be invited to our community to experience a Shabbat with us in Givat Shmuel.

We are well aware of the ever-growing rift between the observant and non-observant in today’s Israeli society. Unfortunately, many Israeli’s feel a great alienation to religion and have attended services at the most only a handful of times. We strive to create an atmosphere that will attract the non-observant Israeli and allow them to be comfortable in the synagogue. By doing so we may be able to fill this void in modern day Israel. We feel that a community of families who are involved in every aspect of Israeli life be it in hospital, universities, the army or business, yet devoted to orthodoxy with joy and warmth, is best suited to bridge the gap. The prayer services conducted in the spirit of the late Rabbi Carlebach have created a special davening experience drawing congregants from near and far. We have in addition, over the course of the past years, hosted over several dozen of leading rabbis as scholars- in -residence for an entire shabbat. Just recently we have hosted the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Lau as well as the current chaplain of the Israel Defense Forces, Rabbi Weiss. The current Chief Rabbis, the Rishon Letzion Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Yona Metzger has also been guests in our community. They are all enthusiastic about our project and remain in close contact with us. Over the course of these weekends community wide informal and formal lectures and discussion are held. Once again, we believe these to be of vital importance in today’s society.

As our community has become well know for it’s hospitality and for being a model for enthusiasm in its prayer services just recently, upon the request of the Jewish Agency, we hosted a group of male and female soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces. These soldiers, mostly new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, were participants in a special introductory course to Judaism. Needles to say, the soldiers enjoyed there stay in our community and reported back to the IDF with renewed enthusiasm.

Where are we located?

Our synagogue was founded in the summer of 1997 in a small-borrowed trailer on the premises of the local elementary school in Givat Shmuel. We have greatly out- grown the trailer’s capacity. On a typical Shabbat we draw an overflowing crowd of 350-400 men, women and children. On the holidays we are unable to accommodate all those who wish to join us.

Why are we unique?

We believe that the combination of religious Zionism and modern orthodoxy along with the warmth and love as exemplified through the songs, prayers, and teaching of the late Rabbi Carlebach will enable us to strengthen commitment to Judaism amongst both observant and non-observant. We serve as a community center for recent olim (immigrants), students, soldiers and youth from all the surrounding areas. As a community strongly committed to both the state of Israel and the torah and well integrated in every aspect of modern day Israeli life we feel that we are best suited if anybody to achieve this goal and consider it a mission of utmost importance.

Our goals:

Due to the uniqueness of our project the local mayor and municipality of Givat Shmuel have allotted us a centrally located plot of land. Our goal is to successfully complete the construction of a suitable building that will house our synagogue and community center.

We are thus seeking funding assistance for the project.

Rabbai Israel Weiss, Chief Rabbai of the IDF

IDF Headquarter
The Chief Rabbinate 2nd B’Av, 5763

To the leaders and members of “Lechu Neranena” community – god bless you.

My dear friends! Jealousy, which sometimes considered negative characteristics, is what I feel. I am jealous for the big privilege you’ve got, to convey your prayers to god, in a unique, Jewish and superior manner, the way of “Lechu Neranena” synagogue.
I have two anchors in Givat Shmuel, my two married daughters. The third anchor, which is very strong and won’t be easily disconnected…, is “Lechu Neranena” synagogue.
It is already few years that I follow the rule of “adding and progressing” which is practically achieved in your “small temple”, not small this temple but superior, really superior.
No, nothing bothers me in your synagogue, not the caravan nor its location, not the heat nor cool atmosphere, not the crowding nor the “fancy” plastic chairs nothing bothers me, because when prayers are strengthened by god’s love and lighting soul like yours, everything produce bright light of god’s proximity.
It seems like no one ever said “I need more space” and everybody feel like in the holy temple “standing crowded and bowing wider”, because your place, in my feeling, is the real place, is god. I feel that happiness never left this place, as well as inspiration.
I really believe that there is no tangible, in a place like yours.

In a place with soul – like yours.
Friendship – like yours.
Flame – like yours.
Singing – like yours.
Prayer – like yours.
Torah – like yours.
Dancing, hovering, clapping hands – like yours.

Not like in other places, where the Chazan leads the audience, in your place the audience lead the Chazan, because here, all of you are Shliochei Zibur. And this wonderful community is a human mix of men and women, boys and girls – singing and praying in one voice, one melody, one breath and one soul. And everything, including the voice, is coming from one cord, towards the godly conductor, while you, dear prayers, are the real winners (conductors).
My dear friends, you are in my eyes, the real Haredim (anxious), because clothes are not making the definition, but the inside, the source, the essence, the intention, the execution and the implementation. You are anxious to god’s word, anxious to god’s consecration. You are anxious to the permitted and unnecessary word, you are the real light.
If I may strengthen you and your way, in order to make your prayers willingly accepted by god.

Rabbai Israel Weiss, Brigadier General
The Chief Rabbai of the IDF

Rabbai Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel

Yona Metzger
Chief Rabbi of Israel
President of the Chief Rabbinic Council
20 B’Kislev, 5764
December 15, 2003

Dr. Baruch Kaplan
Lechu Neranena community Givat Shmuel

I want to thank, respect and appreciate the initiative of your community “Lechu Neranena”, to work god in both ways, singing and learning Torah, since in your community the voice of songs and prayers is heard in distance and the voice of Torah is also heard by many of our brothers in the “Givat Shmuel” area, who enjoy the lectures by the best Talmidei Hachamim in your place.
It was exciting and heart worming to look at and listen to your singing and praying, how Reb Shlomo conducts the largest chorus in the world (“Ken Yirbu”), in such a pleasant and charming manner. Your community leadership and prayers are well known all over the country.

I bless you from the bottom of my heart that God will help you to recruit many Torah soldiers in your unique way of work. I wish that you will continue to hold the Pasuk “Work God with happiness and joy”, Amen.

Sincerely yours,
Yona Metzger
Chief Rabbi of Israel

Synagogue Review: Hippies in suits


Jun. 19, 2005

I attended services at Lehu Niranena Synagogue ("let us go up and sing") in Givat Shmuel three years ago, and was impressed by the depth and beauty I found there, telling all and sundry that I thought it was "the best Carlebach minyan I had ever attended" (and let me say that I love them all).

I never forgot that Shabbat and often wondered if it was really as amazing as the pictures in my mind, or if my memory could have been playing tricks with me, since so many things seem larger than life with distance and nostalgia.

When, in the interests of writing a synagogue review, I requested to spend Shabbat there once again, I arrived full of objectivity, yet I came away once again with the same sense of awe and mystery.

What, I wondered, was the magic ingredient? What was it that made a synagogue in a dormitory suburb, in a simple caravan, with a core congregation of National Religious professionals, both sabras and olim, explode into an oasis of spirituality as soon as the services began? And what made the euphoric feeling of "Shabbes" remain throughout the entire 26 hours, what made me want to get up early and not miss a single service?

Obviously the music of the prayers was a key feature in my enjoyment. Tunes are varied; the standard Carlebach repertoire is mixed with melodies by Jerusalemite Haim David Saracik as well as those traditional to other hassidic sects such as Gur.

Perhaps it is the warm welcome offered by the community. There are three Anglo families on the hospitality committee, I was honored to be invited to the homes of all three.

One of these families is that of American-born Dr. Baruch Kaplan, who, in 1998 found himself walking
several kilometers to the Ramat Gan Yeshiva every Friday night with his neighbor Israeli Shlomo Galernter, to attend services enlivened by the familiar Carlebach tunes they had come to know and love. Kaplan and Galernter asked themselves – and each other – why they couldn't have such a minyan closer to home.

Forming a partnership, they consulted their local religious council and were allocated a tiny caravan in Givat Shmuel. They began with Friday night services, progressing rapidly to such an extent that they were eventually assigned a larger caravan in the courtyard of the Moreshet Zevulun Mamlachti Dati school.

Today Givat Shmuel, which lies at the intersection of Bnai Brak, Petah Tikva, Givatayim and Ramat Gan is home to probably the largest and most popular Carlebach minyan in the country. Their Shabbat services accommodate 400-450 participants on a Friday night, 100 of whom have to pray outside. On weekdays there are five morning minyans and another three for mincha and ma'ariv. The community has plans for a larger space of its own, and is presently raising funds to make its dream come true.

Famous visitors to pass through the doors of Lehu Niranena's 160 sq.m caravan in recent years include Chief Rabbi of the IDF Israel Weiss, former chief rabbi Israel Lau, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, various leading rosh yeshivas including rabbis Haim Sabbato, Elisha Aviner, Mordechai Greenberg and scholar and physician Avraham Steinberg.

Sitting at the Kaplan's table with their delightful children, I tried to understand what was so special about Lehu Niranena.

"We are not democratic," says Kaplan, "what we have in the synagogue is a strong leadership. There is constant direction, and the shul policies can't change depending on new committees elected annually."

And because there is no democracy, no one can vote against the policy that there are no name places on the seats and they are filled on a first come first serve basis, except on Jewish holidays, when places must be booked in advance.

The feeling is that there is not one shaliach tzibur, but that everyone actively participates in the davening.

Perhaps I could conclude that in some cases, a lack of democracy actually pays.

The core community combines with students from neighboring Bar Ilan University, soldiers, teenagers, hasidim and haredim from Bnei Brak, and anyone who cares to drop in. Both the situation of Givat Shmuel and Lehu Niranena's well-publicized open door policy ensure a constant stream of new attendees. Children of all ages are welcome and their silence during prayer is ensured – as is that of anyone who might be tempted to catch up on the week's news – both by an abundance of polite signs requesting quiet and constant shushing, says Kaplan's wife Koti, also a doctor.

Kaplan, who in his non-Shabbat mode is a dermatologic surgeon specializing in skin cancer (in fact, one of the three American-certified Moh's surgeons in the country) defines his dedication to both his pursuits, "As a physician you are committed to healing both the physical and spiritual."

A resident of the Old City of Jerusalem spent Shabbat in Givat Shmuel recently and told me that what he found special was the fact that although the participants were Carlebachniks, they didn't "hang out all day long playing guitar and saying 'gevalt,'" (a classic caricature of the Carlebach type), they were not hippies, but professional people with busy careers and full lives. Interestingly enough, Kaplan had also told me that one of the visiting rabbis had once defined the congregants of Lehu Niranena as "hippies in suits."

But does all this add up, and what is the secret ingredient? I would say it is the spirit of Shabbat. During my stay I was reminded of a tale about the Baal Shem Tov, who sent one of his hassidim on a journey. The hassid was shipwrecked on an island, which while containing buildings, was completely deserted. Only once the Shabbat came in did the island come to life in the most exquisite way.

That is not to say that Givat Shmuel was deserted before Shabbat. On the contrary, this Tel Aviv suburb has a lively population of 22,000. But the magical feeling that descended upon it like a Shabbat blanket when the evening prayer began is illustrated by that story.

But don't take my word for it. Call Baruch and Lisita Schreiber on (03) 532 0550, Yossi and Mona Schreiber on (03) 532 3576, Shlomo Galernter on (03) 532 0832 or email Baruch and Koti Kaplan at, and find out for yourself.

Copyright 1995-2005 The Jerusalem Post -

The Best Minyan \ Yehudit Gorfine

Kipa Determination on the Hill
After 55 years of Zionism, where you should pray?

Published in Hatzofe
May 6, 2003

Not “Ohel Nechama”, not “Yakar”, not the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, not the prayers at “Yeshival Har Etzion”, not at “Yeshivat Maalot Eliahu” in Tel-Aviv, not at “Hillel” in Ramat-Gan, not the prayers at “Beit Bagno” in Bnei-Brak, not “Young Israel” in Petach-Tikva, Netanya, Ra’anana and others take the title of the best prayer. All those Synagogues are are excellent and recommended. But the best of them all ? – “Lechu Neranana” Synagogue n in Givat Shmuel.aaaaaa From all the minyans and synagogues, I found one surprising. Around 150 men standing crowded, singing and dancing with dedication that wouldn’t shame any Hasidic community. Behind the curtain sitting 90 women. The prayers – from all ages – represent three generations. On each available space, standing additional women, such that you couldn’t imagine that their Friday eve’s highest priority is to get dressed and arrive as early as possible to the synagogue, in order to have a seat (they are still women!). And despite that – immediately after candle lighting they run to pray. This crowd, like one big mass of prayers, is overflowing the large caravan. 100 more women decorate one side and 100 more men from the other side. No one is talking. Babies are silent. Outside the caravan, women are standing near their children’s prams, and the babies are peacefully looking around and enjoying the prayers atmosphere. Real wonder. The congregation’s attention is fully dedicated to concentrating in the prayer, to the Carlebach sweet melody, to the gentle singing.
This is the “Lechu Neranana” Carlebach Synagogue, which stands in the middle of the sandy couryard of the “Zevulon Hammer” school. The congregants have knitted kippot (except for several Haredim who came from Bnei-Brak to see the attraction). All of them are people like you and me, and I am wondering why here they achieve dreamlike prayers? Why here they are not busy talking but instead they are singing so beautifully How come that teen-agers girls, are not interested in their clothes but concentrated in the Siddur and thinking about the meanings of the words?
In my synagogue – the people are from the same background: young people between the ages of age of 20-30, alumni of “Bar-Ilan” University or equivalent, alumni of the religious Zionism’s education institutions, who work hard in order to make a decent living, who have young children and maybe a mortgage. And still, in “Lech Neranana” the Shabbat prayer is different. Those young people here may have ahigher mortgage, and should be busier than people who leave in a religious neighborhood with reasonable real-estate prices. And still they are not exchanging information with their friends during the prayers, no jokes or updates. Net prayer. Maybe in fact, due to the high real-estate prices in this area, they need to concentrate in praying.