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Rabbi Whose Temple Had Rock Music at Service Says Drama, Dance is Contemplated

The rabbi of a Reform synagogue which staged an unprecedented rock music program at its Friday night services last week said today that the response had been so favorable that consideration is being given to use of drama and dance during regular services. Rabbi Martin Zion of Temple Israel of New York said the matter would be presented to the synagogue’s regular meeting this month for consideration in general terms. He said he had no plans at the moment for any further innovations in the synagogue’s regular services.

More than 1,500 persons crowded the synagogue sanctuary for the rock oratorio, “Prayers for Friday Night,” which was composed by 19-year-old Gary Friedman. Rabbi Zion said more than 400 would-be worshippers were turned away. He said the unique service had attracted many young congregants and also some older ones who did not usually attend the services regularly.

The oratorio was performed by a quartet of professional musicians, playing three guitars, bass and violin. The musicians were provided by the composer, who paid them for their performance. Rabbi Zion said. He added that no payment was made to the young composer whom he described as deeply interested in the idea of adapting ancient religious worship forms to the conditions of the contemporary world, as is the rabbi. Rabbi Zion said criticism was almost non-existent. He said one or two critics among the congregants felt that the music was a departure from the traditional Jewish musical heritage. He also said a few letters had been received from persons who had read news reports on the service and who were critical about it.

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