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Carlebach was born in Leipzig, Germany to Rabbi Moshe Carlebach, a son of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the av beit din (head of the rabbinical court) of Lübeck, Germany. His maternal grandfather was Rabbi Yosef Cohen, the av beit din of Eschwege, Germany.
In 1933, at age 16, his parents sent him to study Torah at the Telz Yeshiva in Lithuania, where he forged a relationship with Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Bloch, brother of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bloch. Subsequently, he transferred to Yeshivas Mir, where he developed a special connection to Rabbi Yeruchom Levovitz, the mashgiach there, prior to the latter's death.
Move to America
In 1938, Carlebach was ordained as a rabbi by the heads of the Telz and Mir yeshivas. He also received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Simcha Zelig, the posek of Brest, Belarus. In the year preceding World War II, he narrowly escaped the horrors of the Holocaust through the aid of Rabbi Naftoli Neuberger, the principal of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, who sent him an entry visa. There Carlebach wed his wife, Gittel Gutman, who had also come from Germany. Following his wedding, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, rosh yeshiva of Ner Israel, encouraged Rabbi Carlebach to accept the rabbinate at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Two years later, they moved to Detroit, where he worked in Jewish education, teaching at the Yeshiva Beth Yehudah and in the rabbinate. He was instrumental in bringing out key rabbinic personnel to Detroit, such as Rabbi Leib Bakst. He once had the privilege of hosting Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, rosh yeshivas Mir in Poland and Jerusalem. Here, Carlebach studied with his childhood friend Rabbi Leib Bakst, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Detroit. Other study partners included the late Rabbi Simcha Wasserman, the son of Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman. Finally, Rabbi Carlebach forfeited his positions in Detroit in deference to his older uncle and instead worked as an accountant in Boro Park, Brooklyn, establishing the "Mir Minyan" there (located in Yeshivas Be'er Shmuel on 12th Ave.).
He made aliyah to Israel in 1979 and spent time learning Torah in Yeshivas Mir, Yeshivas Kamenitz and near his home until his death. Rabbi Aryeh Finkel, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir in Brachfeld, Rabbi Yitzchok Ezrachi, a son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Leib Shmuelevitz, and others eulogized.
Carlebach was survived by his wife; his sons Rabbi Moshe Carlebach of Jerusalem (father of the author of the critically acclaimed "Chavatzeles HaSharon"), Rabbi Doniel Yeruchom of Brooklyn, Rabbi Binyomin Carlebach of Jerusalem (a rosh yeshiva of Mir there and son-in-law of Rabbi Binyomin Beinush Finkel), and Rabbi Shlomo Ze'ev Carlebach; his daughter, the wife of Rabbi Gedaliah Finkel of Jerusalem; grandsons and great- grandsons. One grandson, Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Carlebach, authored a critical analysis of the Vilna Gaon's mathematical work.
- Kahn, Betzalel (26 January 2005). "HaRav Naftoli Carlebach, zt"l". Dei'ah VeDibur. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- ,"Yeshiva Beth Yehuda & Mogen Avrom". Soulful Detroit. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- Bolkosky, Sidney M. (1991). Harmony & dissonance: voices of Jewish identity in Detroit, 1914-1967(p. 200). Detroit, MI: Wayne State Univ Press. p. 544. ISBN 0-8143-1933-5.
- "Spotlight on Rebbetzin Esther Bakst". Yeshiva Beth Yehuda. Retrieved 27 November 2011.