Five Questions, Five Minutes
Jewish Music/Shabbat Shira
1. What is your name?
2. What school do you attend?
3. What is your favorite Hebrew song?\
4. How does adding music to prayer change the service?
5. Does having the music during the service help unite the congregation more than usual?
1. Andy Gryll
2. Emory University (Atlanta)
3. David Melech
4. It adds enjoyment and entertainment to an otherwise boring service. It also can, for example in Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday night, be a spiritual component of the service.
1. Matt Rutta
2. Columbia/Jewish Theological Seminary (New York City)
3. I have too many favorites to pick just one. This summer I got hooked on the songs of Subliminal, an Israeli hip-hop group
4. It can make the service more beautiful and more spiritual in some ways, but can affect it negatively in others.
5. Coming from a Shul in LA which uses an organ, and living in New York City where such a thing is anathema, I have seen advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Music could potentially allow for more congregational participation if the Shaliach Tzibur is accommodating of the congregation and does not go off on too many musical tangents.
1. Aaron Weininger
2. Washington University in St. Louis
4. Adding music, especially instruments, to prayer enhances the beauty of the service. Historically, musical instruments have been prohibited from use on Shabbat because one might be tempted, if the occasion arises, to fix a broken string (and violate Shabbat). Some also believe that adding musical instruments will detract from the spirit of Shabbat and transform a synagogue into a church-like atmosphere. Despite associations to
Christian worship, instrumental music has always played a significant role in Jewish life. The Temple in Jerusalem featured musical accompaniment and in modern Jewish life today, Conservative synagogues are introducing creative musical Shabbat services like "Friday Night Live." While some claim that we should continue to mourn for the Temple by refraining from instrumental music in our worship, we have been blessed with the creation of the modern State of Israel. Conservative Judaism has modified the Musaf service by referring to Temple sacrificial worship in the past tense (as a historical reference), to recall our ancestors' ties to the Temple without expressing a desire for the return of sacrificial worship in the future. Just as Conservative Musaf liturgy reflects our contemporary thinking, so too must our style of davening reflect our joy, symbolized in the realization of our dreams and the emergence of our spiritual homeland. Opportunities to introduce musical accompaniment and enrich the service should be welcomed.
5. Absolutely. Music, in keeping with the spirit of Shabbat, helps unite the congregation more than usual. Appropriate musical instruments, like a guitar, harp, or keyboard will lead to more congregational participation and ruach. The power of music brings enormous honor and dignity, and musical accompaniment may compliment the traditional liturgy of a Conservative Friday night or Saturday morning service.
1. Jessica Danon
2. University of Judaism (Los Angeles)
3. My favorite is not actually a song rather it is a niggun, that was taught to me on my
KOACH Birthright Trip during the winter of 2001-2002. Jeni Friedman taught it to us and now every time I hear it, it takes me back to my one true home, and I often get teary-eyed.
4. Adding music can both add or detract from a service in my mind. I enjoy music that brings a congregation together with harmonies and melodies that people can sing along with.
5. I think solely choral music is a bad idea because it tends to highlight the choir and pull one away from their own intentful worship. Again, if the melody is simple and everyone can learn or is taught it, I don't see it as a bad thing.