You present an interesting situation. Conservative Judaism is far reaching; from
the extremely liberal left in which women are ordained as rabbis and cantors to
the extremely conservative right which borders on Orthodoxy. Because of the
"spaciousness" of room for ideology, differences in interpretation of
"traditional" beliefs abound.
More directly, in ancient times, in the Bais Hamigdosh, the Holy Temple
in Jerusalem, prayer services were conducted with the playing of music. It was
common to hear the sound of a flute, a harp or other instruments. However, with
the destruction of the second Temple, it was concluded that music shall not
accompany a prayer service until the Third, and final, temple is erected and
moshiach has arrived (many things will change when Moshiach comes.
Orthodox davening absolutely prohibits music until that time.
Conservative wavers on that issue as well as on numerous others. Mind you, I am
not saying that the Conservative Movement is wrong. Clearly, it is not. It is a
vital part of Am Echod and Am Yisroel.
If the majority in your congregation finds the playing of music offensive, than
you should collectively approach the Ritual Committee or the Board and, yes,
even the rabbi who is accepting of it. Again, clearly, he is not wrong either in
accepting the music. That is his prerogative as your spiritual leader. The
congregation, however, is comprised of various ideological beliefs and should be
I have often heard that the way to keep children interested in the service is by
playing to their needs and wants or, more often, by making it into a party. I
fully disagree with that concept. In my opinion, the only way to keep children
involved in the shul beyond their Bar/Bat Mitzvot is by virtue of
them coming home to an observant household.....regardless of the degree of
observance. At schools, be they yeshivot or universities, one learns the
"material things"......the spirituality, the soul within the lessons are learned
only at home. Dad puts on tefillin and davens every morning, goes
to shul on Shabbos and keeps many of the mitzvoth. Mom maintains a
kosher home, lights candles on Shabbos and insists on a Shabbos
dinner in which the family interacts as a unit of one......that's what keeps
children interested. It becomes a way of life rather than just another "thing"
to do on Saturdays.
Finally, you never have to grin and bear anything in life. There are loads of
synagogues, I'm sure even in Knoxville, where the davening is to your
liking. First, express your discontent to whomever you believe has the authority
to make a reverse change. If that fails, find a shul that satisfies your