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West London Synagogue

In the Temple, musical instruments played an important role in the service. However, the Orthodox Jewish tradition forbids the playing of musical instruments in the synagogue on the Sabbath and only permits the unaccompanied male voice. In Britain, from the mid Victorian period onwards, when large-scale "cathedral" synagogues became fashionable, a choirGlossary Term galleryGlossary Term was sometimes introduced. A favoured position for the choirGlossary Term was behind the ArkGlossary Term, hidden by a grille and/or textile screenGlossary Term. Sometimes the choirGlossary Term was accommodated on an extra large Bimah or in a deep W galleryGlossary Term facing the ArkGlossary Term.

In the 19th century Reform Jews also introduced organ music, borrowed from Christian church practice. In England, West London Synagogue (1870) has an elaborate, integrated pipe organ, a great rarity in a British synagogue.


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