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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 7.13:
Do Conservative Jews play musical instruments on Shabbat?

Answer:

Most Conservative rabbis hold that playing a musical instrument on Shabbat is a violation of a rabbinic law, and thus prohibit it. Some Conservative rabbis hold that it may well not be a violation of halakha (Jewish law), and so theoretically could be permitted. However, in practice, the majority of these rabbis do not permit this use. A minority of Conservative synagogues do allow the use of an organ on Shabbat, and they have an official teshuvah (responsa) from the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) to back them up. This teshuvah does not reccomend the use of an organ - in fact, it discourages it. But it notes that strictly speaking, this practice does seem to have some legitimacy.

The website of the Conservative synagogue (below) explains why it allows the use of an organ during Shabbat services. It summarizes the halakhic arguments in this issue. http://www.bethyeshurun.org/organ.htm


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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