Using Church Music In Shul

In his third lecture on Rabbi Yisrael Moshe Hazan (19th Century rabbi in Rome) for Torah in Motion, Rabbi Marc B. Shapiro says:

Rabbi Hazan recommends using church music in the davening.

We should use our words but their tune. In one place in his responsa, he says it is obligatory to do this.

He says it brings people close to God and to love God.

He testifies that famous chazanim in Istanbul, etc, would go into churches (not the sanctuary but the hallway) and they would listen to the church music and then they would adapt it for use in the synagogue.

Other rabbis were outraged by this ruling. They see this as nothing less than kissing up to Christians.

Rav Ovadia Yosef has a tolerant view on this. He has a problem with church music but not such a problem.

He doesn’t see the music as church music aka Christian music, but as music to raise the spirits.

Rav Yosef says there is no problem in taking secular music, even love songs, as tunes, but you do not want to repeat words.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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