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Dec 21, 2011

The Shabbos Siren Of Belz Was Silenced

The sirens announcing the arrival of Shabbos are a beautiful thing. Along with that, they bring back the ancient custom of announcing Shabbos by blowing trumpets in the community. Different areas use different ttypes of sirens for this. The standard siren is just a long wailing siren. In some neighborhoods, they add to that a siren blaring music - generally a Shabbos tune.

I particularly used to love the siren. In the winter, I am usually still home when the siren blares, as in my neighborhood many people keep candlelighting according to the custom of Jerusalem to light 40 minutes before sunset rather than the Bet Shemesh custom of 20 minutes prior to sunset. In the summer, when I make early Shabbos, I am usually walking home from shul when the siren blares, and then I get to embarrass my kids as I often sing along with the music. I say "used to" because recently it has started getting on my nerves.

The local people running it have added so many warning sirens they are making me crazy. It is no longer a siren just at candlelighting time, or a 2 minute warning prior to candlelighting time. Now, there is a siren 20 minutes before candlelighting time, then 10 minutes prior. I think there is also 5 minutes prior as well. That is in addition to the regular two sirens. I counted last week and if I remember correctly there were 5 sets of sirens blasted. At first I couldnt understand how candlelighting time had gotten so early, then I realized they are warning sirens.

Anyways, the Belz shul in Tel Aviv just had to cancel their siren to avoid fights. Belz plays Lecha Dodi over the siren system, and a number of secular residents of the area have been asking them to stop playing it. Initially they lowered the volume, but they have now decided to cancel the entire siren altogether. The gabbai of the shul said that they have been in that location for over 50 years, and have never tried to take over the neighborhood or anything. He said they have never tried to force anybody to do anything, but if people are going to complain about this, it isnt something necessary to fight about. When other people asked why they stopped it he told them that he is not interested in waging any battles.

I think the Belzer gabbai in Tel Aviv made a wise decision. he recognized which way the winds are blowing right now, and realized this is not something worth fighting over, and causing hatred towards his shul among the locals.


  1. To choose the path of peace... so nice to hear!-LFD

  2. I'm shocked (in the good way) by this sensible decision.

  3. I'm not sure - whenever we visit my brother in RBS, the sirens always jolt me just a bit before I realize what's going on. That sound isn't generally a friendly one... I think that Lecha Dodi would be much better!


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