Music to signal the onset of Shabbos in Monsey thanks to new Satmar synagogue

In an upgrade from an ancient practice, a new musical “bell” will announce the start of Shabbos — unlike the shrill sirens used in many other Haredi neighborhoods

A Haredi synagogue in Monsey, N.Y. Credit: Shtetl

Apr 4, 2024 6:25 PM


Many Monsey residents will soon welcome Shabbos with music each week, according to Haredi news outlets.

Thanks to a new Satmar synagogue being completed in the area of Remsen Avenue and Route 59, Monsey residents will get to hear “warm songs and harmony” that spread “the true peacefulness of Shabbos,” Rockland Daily reported. The new sounds will come from what is described as an “innovative bell” installed at the new synagogue.

Until now, Monsey had a siren that went off each week, once 15 minutes before the start time of Shabbos, and another to signal the actual start time. It is unclear if the new musical “bell” will replace the shrill siren heard in the past, or will be in addition to it. The Monsey community has grown significantly over the years, and the current siren is not heard throughout the entire area.

Many Haredi neighborhoods have long had sirens announcing the beginning of Shabbos, following a custom originally initiated in Jerusalem and which goes back to Talmudic times, when the sound of shofar blasts would signal the onset of the day of rest.

In recent decades, sirens have been installed in Haredi neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Monsey, though not without controversy. In Brooklyn, a Shabbos siren installed near Bedford Stuyvesant drew complaints from neighbors, who said it was unusually loud and sounded like an “air raid siren.” One neighbor said the siren was “loud and painful” and gave her “headaches for days.” 

A Shabbos siren was first instituted in Monsey during the 1990s, originally leading to tension between some Haredi groups over differing customs for the start time of Shabbos, though the tensions have dissipated over the years.

The new musical sounds in Monsey will play for the first time this Friday evening.