American Flag on pole, topped with an Eagle. Is this permitted in the Synagogue?

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  • @wfb is quoting a source that isn't immediately clear, so I'll explain: According to טורי זהב (a highly valued halachic commentary), one should not have symbols of animals or the like in a synagogue (because it may give off the impression that one is bowing to them). Nov 16 at 2:59
  • @EthanLeonard that meant not to decorate your synagogue with them, agreed. I think it's a very plausible argument that an American flag with a finial is ... seen as just a flag. Half the crowd probably doesn't even notice the eagle unless they are paying very close attention. But hey, Chumra of the month club ... if you have the choice of finials, yeah get a simple knob shape instead.
    – Shalom
    Nov 16 at 15:57
  • @Shalom you could be right. I was just translating the source, which doesn't explicitly differentiate between finials and any other type of symbol (unless I missed something). Nov 16 at 19:58
  • @EthanLeonard not per se, though it sounds like he's discussing symbols to decorate the synagogue; this is more like a decorator for the political statement.
    – Shalom
    Nov 16 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


Rabbi Moshe Feinstein wrote that US and Israeli flags inside the synagogue (i.e. the worship room itself) were permitted; there was nothing idolatrous about them. He felt they were less-than-ideal, simply as the prayer room should be dedicated only to prayer. He stressed it was far better to pray in a dedicated synagogue, even if it had flags, than in someone's basement.

He did not address the finial per se, but I'm going to make a reasonable guess here -- most of the synagogues I've seen that have flags (whether in the sanctuary or the lobby) have had eagle finials. I'm pretty sure that was the standard practice at the time Rabbi Feinstein wrote his responsum. So when he said "it's not idolatrous to have a US flag in the sanctuary", I think that means "even if it has the little eagle thingy on top." Provided no one is actually worshiping the thing... otherwise we have bigger issues...

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