Opening the Gates tells the story of the historic Polish concert tour of composer and singer Shlomo Carlebach, and his unconventional efforts to heal the deep-seated animosity that existed between Jews and Poles after the Holocaust.
“The singing rabbi” had a mystical belief in the power of music to heal, and an almost naïve belief that simply telling people that they were good would be transforming. His message that one could be a good Jew and also care for the Polish people encouraged many closeted Jews to come out of hiding.
When asked about his goal for the concert tour, Carlebach replied: “I wish to shake hands with every man, woman and child in Poland.” His comment received extensive press attention and he was widely received by the Polish population. The majority of the people attending his concerts were not Jewish.
Rabbi Carlebach’s role in “opening the gates” of Polish-Jewish reconciliation was second only to that of Pope John Paul 11 who prayed in a synagogue, referred to Jews as “our older brothers of faith,” and visited Auschwitz. Director Menachem Daum finds it fitting that a year after Carlebach died, a group of priests sang Shlomo’s song of peace during the visit of the Pope to the U.S.
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Co-directors Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky are in production on the film.