A Progressive Jewish Congregation in Portland, Oregon
Shir Tikvah Office: 503-473-8227

“What Do Jews Do?”  When #MeToo comes to Shul

One day in a small town a long way from here, a long time ago, the Rabbi was heard humming a lovely melody that surprised her students. “Rabbi!” they said, “that’s a tune we’ve heard coming from the church!” The Rabbi smiled and said, “it’s perfectly all right. You see, a melody is like flowing water. It carries nothing, and belongs to no one.”
“If the creator of a Jewish tune is known to be an unethical person, the melody should not be used.” – Rabbi Menashe Klein
“The songs may be sung if they were created before the ethical lapse.” – Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
On Shabbat VaYekhi this past week, our Rabbinic intern Davina Bookbinder offered a d’var Torah in which she raised the question for us to consider: where do we stand, when #MeToo comes to shul? Some of our beautiful melodies were created by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, a charismatic prayer leader who died in 1994.
Rabbi Carlebach was accused of sexual misconduct both during his lifetime and after, and with the #MeToo movement there is a new energy to the question: should Jews use Carlebach’s tunes for prayer?  We had a serious and thoughtful discussion, and good points were raised for consideration: does it matter if we don’t even know which melodies are his? does the music, as all art, have a life separate from its creator?
Join the conversation by sharing in our reading and thinking – and join us at shul to share your thoughts. We’re going to mull this over for a bit as we learn more, in the best tradition of our Learning Congregation, where we know it’s not enough to have a feeling, we need to investigate, and seek out truth.
For your consideration:

Explore Past Posts

LGBT Safe Zone

Visit Shir Tikvah