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Singer-songwriter spreads Torah through his music

Israeli singer-songwriter Shlomo Katz is coming to Kansas City for one night only, Sunday, March 17. His concert is being presented by KC Kollel and Kehilath Israel Synagogue.

Katz’s musical style has been described as neo-Carlebach, a description the singer agrees with.

“As much as I sing my own original tunes, it was the heart and soul within the music of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, of blessed memory, who triggered my own interpretation of my soul through music,” said Katz, who has been producing music for more than a decade.

In fact Katz has been an integral part of building the “Shlomo Carlebach Legacy Trust,” which has been working to preserve, to publish and to distribute the legacy of the late rabbi as a Jewish national treasure (www.carlebachlegacy.com).

Katz was born in New Jersey but grew up in Raanana, Israel. He now lives with his wife Bina and daughters Tiferet and Ora Menucha in Neve Daniel, and said he was born into a family of musicians. He explains his rich musical heritage goes back many generations and includes his father Avshalom Katz, a master musician and chazzan. A prolific composer, Shlomo Katz writes solo as well as in collaboration with his brother Eitan Katz, Yehuda Solomon and Chaim David.

Katz’s first solo CD was “Malei Olam,” which he recorded after first doing “Keshoshana” with Chaim Dovid and Ahron Razel. Since then he has also recorded “Vehakohanim” and a live double album entitled “Live in Melbourne.” He has performed numerous concert tours throughout the Unites States, Israel, Argentina, Costa Rica, Australia, Hong Kong, Belgium, Canada, England and Germany.

He is also a rabbi, having received his rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Chaim Brovender and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin at Yeshivat Hamivtar in the summer of 2006. In addition to his musical career, he teaches at Yeshivat Torat Shraga and Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo.

Katz believes his particular brand of Jewish music can help others get close to Hashem.

“The definition of Jewish music is a very touchy subject. There is a lot of stuff out there labeled Jewish music, but unfortunately the only thing Jewish about them are the Hebrew words. To me, Jewish music is a song which triggers passion of love toward Hashem and which breaks down all barriers between people. If while I’m singing I’m not praying, it might not be Jewish music, it might be just good music,” he said.

K.I.’s Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz met Katz and learned with him while in yeshiva in Israel.

“I was often deeply touched by his niggunim (spiritual melodies) and his soulful Torah teachings,” Rabbi Yanklowitz said.

“Bringing Reb Shlomo here is a huge opportunity for our city to tap into a very deep spiritual place together that we can continue to build off of as we launch a spiritual revolution here in Kansas City,” he continued.

Rabbi Binyomin Davis said the Kollel is very excited to partner with K.I. to bring this top-notch musician here.

“I have always felt like music is an extremely powerful tool for bringing the spiritual aspect of Judaism alive. I hope that people will welcome the opportunity to bring the beauty and joy of Judaism to life. I always tell families that if you want your children to love Judaism, take any chance you can to bring it into your children’s lives; that’s what we personally try to do as parents, and that’s why I see this program as vital to the Kollel’s mission of bringing vibrancy and meaning to the Jewish community here in K.C.,” Rabbi Davis said.

Katz has always enjoyed providing “beautiful music,” but never really intended to get in the music business.

“However, seeing that it is impossible to be able to reach out and get my music out to the world without the business elements, once I saw the calling, I had a few angels who began to open gates for me in their hometowns. From that point on it’s hard for me to understand how things got rolling, but they have been rolling, thank G-d, ever since,” he said.

In addition to Rabbi Yanklowitz, Katz has other friends in the area as well who have been trying to get him to bring his music here for quite a while.

“Over the years, a number of my closest friends spent time with the Kollel Torah Mitziyon in Kansas City, and always tried setting something up for me, but I guess the time wasn’t right until now. I am also very close to members of the Claster and Wajcman families,” he said.

As we get closer to Passover, he hopes his music will help those concertgoers prepare for the holiday.

“We live with the times, and the times are directing us toward becoming free over Pesach. We invite everyone to come and give their souls a bit of a massage with music and stories coming from Yerushalayim, the eternal capital of freedom.”

Concert details

Shlomo Katz will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at Kehilath Israel Synagogue in an event sponsored by K.I. and KC Kollel. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and students; free for children under 5. A limited number of reserved front row tickets, at $20 each, are available. VIP tickets, which also include a special post-concert dinner with Katz catered by This American Bite’s Yosef Silver, are on sale for $100. Tickets can be reserved by calling K.I. at 913-642-1880 and will be sold at the door; cash and checks are acceptable payments. Tickets may also be purchased with credit cards online at http://tinyurl.com/Katz-KC. A BBQ dinner will be available for purchase before, during and after the show.