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My shul has a caterer that follows the halachot dictated by the shul's rav.

During the ben hashamashot (bet. mincha 1st day & ma'ariv 2nd day Yom Tov), while discussing the laws of the Sefira period, my rav mentioned the different customs regarding music restrictions. Summarizing Eliyahu Ki Tov's Sefer Hatoda'ah, there are 2 date ranges for these restrictions (additional variations mainly related to Lag Ba'omer are also mentioned, but I'm omitting them, here):

  • Music permitted until Rosh Hodesh Iyar; prohibited from then until Lag Ba'omer, and prohibited again from 34 Omer until Erev Shavu'ot.
  • Music prohibited from 2nd day Pesach until 34 Omer

The rav told us that when he was in his previous shul in a different city, they were the only shul, and he established the minhag to prohibit music in the shul (weddings. etc.) all days of sefirah except for Lag Ba'omer, as this was the minhag he had.

When he moved into my neighborhood, he asked other rabbanim about the minhag hamakom (communal minhag) and the two rabbanim from the other two main shuls said that because the neighborhood has so many shuls and such a diverse set of minhagim, they did not establish any minhag for the shul at all. Thus, the only common "overlap" of the 2 aforementioned time ranges was to prohibit musical events in their shul only from Rosh Hodesh Iyar to Lag Ba'omer - about a 2 week period.

I grew up in a neighborhood where we had a diverse community with many shuls (not as many as the neighborhood that I am currently in, which has far more). Every shul's minhag as well as my own family was to refrain from music the entire sefirah period until 3 days before Shavu'ot and Lag Ba'omer itself.

My father-in-law who was a musician, had no business the entire sefirah period except for Lag Ba'omer. He performed at weddings throughout the NY, NJ, area and even a bit beyond. Suffice to say, there was no such leniency 30 years ago as there is now.

Two questions:

Isn't every shul supposed to establish some set / firm minhag according to what the rav or majority of shul members decide? I never heard of a leniency of "no minhag at all" such as what several rabbanim are practicing.

It seems that 30 years ago, the shuls were "stricter" and tried to accommodate both minhagim by saying "no music" so as not to offend any group. Now, it seems the opposite policy. Now, they are saying, "yes" so as to accommodate everyone. What happened to change this policy? Is it all about getting the commission from catered events held at the shul?

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