What is the Halacha and the Minhag regarding Non-Jews in Shul choirs at religious services led by a Cantor?

  • 1
    Please clarify your question. I'm not sure if your asking about what the halacha is regarding this, or if there was any historical precedent or occurrence having non-Jews are part of a synagogue choir.
    – DanF
    Sep 23 '19 at 22:19
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Stephen, I hope you enjoy our community. This forum works a bit differently from others, inasmuch as it is more source-based than most alternatives. Sep 23 '19 at 23:13
  • Please consider revising your question, as it is currently a bit unclear what you're asking. I think I have an idea of what you're asking and upvoted as a result, but the current form of the OP leaves something to be desired Sep 23 '19 at 23:14
  • Q is still vague. However, while there is no prohibition for a Gentile to pray in a shul, there may be a prohibition for him to participate in the service, per se. OTOH, the choir is "peripheral" to the service. My thinking is that there is prob. no halachic problem. But, I am unaware of any such pairing having been done at any time.
    – DanF
    Sep 24 '19 at 16:54
  • Define “shul choir”
    – DonielF
    Oct 11 '19 at 4:10

Choirs are rarely found in Orthodox synagogues nowadays (for reasons beyond the scope of your question), as such there is little literature addressing the topic from an Orthodox perspective. However, choirs seem more common in Reform and Conservative congregations and their rabbinical bodies have documented their views on your question. Here are some representative quotes (extracted from R Baruch Frydman-Kohl's Teshuvah: Non-Jews in Synagogue Choirs)

From the CCAR Responsa Committee, the Reform's movement central rabbinical body

The phenomenon of non-Jewish choristers is on its way out. It represents a phase of Reform history which no longer can serve as precedent for our teshuvah. The shelichei tsibbur must be members of the covenant community and they cannot yield this responsibility to outsiders

From the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (Conservative)

Unanimous opinion of the Committee that the practice of having non-Jews in synagogue choirs is not in keeping with Jewish standards (1954). Gentile choir leaders at services are deemed contrary to the spirit of Jewish tradition and practice, although there would be no objection to using them in training a choir (1958)... Remarkably, for a Committee that prizes diversity and often exhibits disagreement, this decision has been reviewed four times with the same conclusion: choristers must be Jews.

See the original for more history, details and the author's personal conclusions.

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