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Samantha

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PostSubject: Something I just can't get over!   Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:40 pm

I'm a true egalitarian with a very traditional bent, but recently there is something which I am just unable to get over. During the High Holy Days and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, my shul uses an organ during services.

It's not music in shul that offends me at all, but because it is an organ. Hearing organ music brings back awful memories of being shoved into Sunday School and forced to sing along to hymns dotted with references to the "saviour". Of all the instuments my shul chooses to accompany our hymn singing - it has to be an organ!! Argh, just why?! Even a guitar or a piano would have been fine. But organ music makes me shudder, it's just too churchy for me and is associated with all the bad memories which I have so desperately tried to leave behind me.

Is this an over-violent reaction towards something so trivial? Is this a sign that the Liberal movement isn't right for me? The beliefs of the UK Liberal Movement are a total match for me, but I just am not comfortable with certain practices. Someone who recently joined my congregation wanted to set up a coffee morning - in the back of the sanctuary - and I internally balked at it.

Am I being unnecessarily silly, especially as I'm not even a Jew yet? Is it a completely over the top reaction?
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:18 pm

I'm sorry you feel that way, Samantha. I can understand it as well; my memories of growing up in Baptist churches isn't all that wonderful either.

There are no instruments what so ever in the synagogue I attend; all singing is unaccompanied. I'm hard pressed to think of any similarities between the synagogue and the churches of my youth.

But I'd suggest you give it a chance. Even though they both use the same instrument, they are still very different. Concentrate on what is different, and try to see the music as part of the Jewish experience rather than as part of the Christian ones.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:36 pm

Our synagogue uses an organ during the High Holidays--along with a choir and occassionally a classical instrument, such as a violin and cello. During normal times, though, it's a guitar and sometimes a piano for us (with the occassional tenor sax at a bar mitzvah).

Organs don't bother me, but then I clearly had a better experience with Christianity than you did. In fact, I went from singing in the choir at my Episcopal church directly to attending synagogue services.

I think the longer you're in synagogue, the more that discomfort will go away as you get used to it and the memories of church fade. I don't think the church should be the only religious group that gets to claim the organ. As I am reminded when we sing the "Hallelujah" song every Saturday (excerpt from a psalm), the list of musical instruments which we are commanded to use to make a joyful noise unto the Lord is rather long. So why not an organ too?
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:43 pm

I'm not saying that Judaism shouldn't use an organ. It's the personal memories I have associated with it which affect me. It's not logical, but I don't think something like this is meant to be. It's my own personal baggage which needs to be addressed.

I'm not about to leave my shul just because of this little foible - I may very well get used to it in the future. At least, I hope I will.
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FaustianSlip

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:29 am

Actually, a shul I attended in London (a Liberal synagogue) used an organ during services, and it really weirded me out. I'm opposed to instruments in general at Shabbat services, and the organ seems particularly intrusive to me. It's very churchy; some people like that, and that's fine, but for me, not so much.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:53 am

I think all music during services kind of ruins it for me, but this music-during-Shabbat thing is a bone of contention in my synagogue. We're kind of a convert-heavy synagogue and they seem to be the fans of music (my guess from positive experiences).

But it rankles born-Jews as well. So whether you don't like it from a past experience point of view or just in general, I think it's a universal conflict.
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BRNechama

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:41 pm

Oh wow; I've heard of synagogues that have musical instruments and choirs for their Shabbat services...but I've never actually attended one. Orthodox synagogues definitely don't have. My unaffiliated synagogue now also doesn't do this (although there is a piano in the front corner, below the bimah; maybe they use it on Friday nights...I don't know, I don't go on Friday nights).

But growing up in church, it would make me feel weird. Also I think it's pretty irreverent of Shabbos.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:30 pm

Why? Music used to be in the shuls. They removed it because it was adopted by the Christians as a differentiation.
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BRNechama

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:33 am

maculated wrote:
Why? Music used to be in the shuls. They removed it because it was adopted by the Christians as a differentiation.

Because of the prohibition of using musical instruments on Shabbos. A choir in and of itself wouldn't be a problem (kol isha, hearing the singing voices of women, it not an issue with me personally); but I was assuming (& maybe I'm wrong) that a choir would have instrumental musical accompaniment.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:54 am

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/practices/Ritual/Prayer/Prayer_Music_and_Liturgy/Music_and_Prayer/musical_instruments.shtml
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Something I just can't get over!   Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:07 am

I have experienced musical instruments such as guitar and electric piano at Reform services that I have visited for bnei mitzvah. The main congregation of the Reconstructionist/Conservative shul where my "tiny (dying Sad minyan) meets in a basement room sometimes uses an organ which I've heard when I've slipped out of services to use the rest room or during Yizkor (since my parents are alive and most minyan members go by that minhag). It's OK, but not what I'm used to. Organ music in a shul does seem out of place to me, since I connect organ music with Protestant services.

For some of the shuls that use instruments, I decided that it is almost needed in services where the congregants don't sing along. It helps fill in the sound. Otherwise, it is just the cantor doing a solo. I really dislike services where it seems like the cantor is performing and the congregants are just an audience. I believe a hazzan should "lead" the congregation, not do it for them. Proxy Judaism is not for me.

I have also experienced the situation of lack of congregant participation in a Conservative shul. I was once really unsure what to do: sing along with the cantor as I was used to doing, and possibly be seen as being rude in not following the minhag of the congregation, or stay silent even though that seemed so wrong. I noticed that a few people did sing, possibly mostly the guests, but perhaps some of the congregation that did know the words, so I sang, but more quietly so as not to stand out too much. The cantor of that congregation also used some unusual tunes, possibly from his South American background. I didn't know the tunes (and neither evidently did the congregation), so those part of the services were simply solo performances.

Better than musical instruments is full participation from the congregation. Even with the relatively small size of my "primary congregation", 50 people all singing makes for a pretty nice chorus. It helps when some of the congregants have good voices (and sing so as not to overwhelm the rest---my minyan has a a few members who have been professional cantors in the past and one of then sometimes gets a little carried away with the operatic style of singing). I like it best when some of the better singers can do harmony. For the end of the liturgy for when the Torahs are put away "Etz chayim hi.... Chadesh yameinu ke'kedem." my minyan does often break into harmony and I really love the beauty of that sound.
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