Shabbat microphones catching on among orthodox despite taboos

Ten years ago the overflow crowd during the height of the summer season at Rabbi Marc Schneier’s synagogue in the Hamptons was so large that it has to be housed in tents on the lawn outside. Acoustics were terrible, if not nonexistent, and many congregants decided to cease attending services because they felt disconnected from the activity inside.

Turning to then Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and former Haifa municipal Rabbi She’ar Yashuv Cohen, Schneier was referred to Yisrael Rozen, a national-religious rabbi whose Zomet Institute in Alon Shvut had developed a halacha-friendly sound system.

Microphones, like the issue of separation of the sexes during prayers, had long been one of the dividing lines between orthodox and conservative congregations, with traditionalists shunning the technology as a violation of the legal norms regulating shabbat observance.


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