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August 30, 2015 | 15th Elul 5775
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  • "Daily and Weekly Worship Services"
  • "Religious Observance"

  1. Feb 2005 Digest 040

    Do any congregations out there in any way alter their services when a minyan is not present? I recall that when I belonged to a Reconstructionist congregation, we would eliminate parts of the worship service.

  2. Feb 2005 Digest 040

    We omit Chatzi Kaddish, Bar’chu, K’dushah, and Torah reading in the absence of a minyan. We always say Aleinu and Mourners' Kaddish.
    860 households

  3. Feb 2005 Digest 040

    We don't usually have a minyan when we hold our "non-traditional" Saturday morning service. Our most recent practice is that without a minyan we do not recite Kaddish. However, if someone present is observing a yarzheit and there is no minyan, we select a special reading to acknowledge the yarzheit.

    Since we usually do an informal Torah study rather than reading from Torah at that service, reading from Torah is not much of an issue. On a few occasions when it has come up at our temple, our rabbi said it is not proper to have reading from Torah without a minyan. Since that is what the rabbi says is proper practice, we follow it.

    A little note: I have observed in some congregations that if only nine are present, the ark is opened partway and the Torah serves as "tenth' for the minyan.


  4. Feb 2005 Digest 040

    When we hold services at some senior residences, we ignore the fact that we don't have a minyan. Of course we would not read Torah there in any case, but we do Mourner’s Kaddish and other prayers without counting folks there. At synagogue, our alternative service has counted the Torah as a tenth, but I'm not sure what the minhag is, if we have less than nine present.

  5. Feb 2005 Digest 040

    Except for special holidays and bar/bat mitzvah service, our services are held twice monthly on Friday night when we recite Torah. In the past two years, I can remember only two Friday nights where there was not a minyan. (The Torah counts as one and anyone else 13 or over, male or female, counts). On those two times, we did not do a Torah service. Instead, the rabbi did read the passage out of the printed Chumash.

  6. Mar 2005 Digests 041 and 042

    At our temple, the only time a minyan has been at risk of not occurring is at our 7:15 am Wednesday services (The Midweek Minyan). The rabbi conducts that service…However, since this is a more traditional service for us in style, we eliminate the Mourner’s Kaddish if there are no mourners present, and we say the Mourner’s Kaddish even with less than a minyan. [When m]y mom died…,and we did not achieve a minyan at one of the Wednesday morning services…rabbi had us proceed into the Mourner’s Kaddish. When I asked, "Even without a minyan?" he replied, very insightfully [that] if this is as close to the opportunity to say Kaddish as I was going to get, and may not have other opportunities for a few days, that is, until our Shabbat services, then he would rather have me recite Kaddish in the presences of less-than-a-minyan than not at all. It was touching, comforting, and I felt, appropriate.

    When our Wednesday morning, "midweek minyan" falls short of a minyan, our rabbi…omits the Reader's Kaddish and the Bar’chu.


  7. Mar 2005 Digest 042

    …Some…of us are concerned that we should conduct congregational worship differently according to the number of worshipers who have gathered to participate. My feeling is that in Reform tradition halachah has a vote but not a veto. Any congregation which feels uncomfortable in reciting some rubrics in the absence of any particular number of worshipers should not subject itself to needless discomfort. Personally, I don't feel any Reform congregation must feel itself bound to a particular form of worship, although there should be some sound reason for departing from long-standing traditions.
    1100+/- family units

  8. Apr 2006 Digest 073

    Might we infer that [a Palestinian minyan of six adults] comes from the Jerusalem Talmud, where the requirement for ten may be from the Babylonian? …

    …I believe that the two pieces of the service that traditionally can't happen without a minyan are Mourner's Kaddish and reading from the Torah scroll…The key word is traditionally. When our congregation held a daily service, frequently attended only by the volunteer reader and people saying Kaddish, the whole service went forward regardless of the number of people present. Similarly, our emeritus rabbi did not require a minyan at a shiva home…

    My commitment to the concept of minyan is not because it is a traditional requirement. But, in the spirit of the Pittsburgh Platform, if we are bound only by those legacies of the past that make sense in the present, and I believe the minyan makes perfect sense. It reminds the congregation that kol yisrael arevim zeh lazeh, all Israel is responsible one for the other, and that includes the responsibility to comfort the bereaved--in this instance, by enabling Kaddish, and by providing community.

    What the minyan requirement does is to remind us that mitzvah doesn't mean good deed, it means sacred obligation. The congregant whose autonomous decision-making doesn't compel him/her to attend Shabbat services from a personal need to daven needs to consider the obligation to enable others to daven.

    This also brings us back to Shabbat morning services. I believe that the leadership of the congregation has the obligation to make them happen. One of the jobs of temple board members is role modeling Jewish behavior for the congregation. It is hard to tell the bar/bat mitzvah family that it may be their simchah, but it's the congregation's service, if the congregation isn't there…

    In summation, the minyan requirement establishes an expectation; and while we may be disappointed in the fulfillment of the expectation, we remember that it's not our obligation to finish the task, but neither are we free to desist from it.

    1000 units

  9. Apr 2006 Digest 073

    I am not comfortable davening myself if there is not a minyan. I have been the "tenth" many times would it would have been more convenient for me to be elsewhere. Although I was raised in the Reform Movement, I have a sense of obligation to make myself available when necessary to make a minyan. This goes beyond expectation, I use the word obligation with intent.

  10. Apr 2006 Digest 073

    On the subject of the requirement of a minyan, my experience has varied somewhat. In my former congregation it happened from time to time that there were less than ten adults (i.e. b'nei mitzvah) present on Shabbat morning or, more frequently, on the mornings of Yom Tov (especially on the first day when Yizkor was not being observed). In those cases, the service went on pretty much as normal, except that the Chatsi Kaddish, Barechu, and Kedusha were omitted and the Torah portion was read from the chumash (the sefer Torah was not taken out). The rabbi recited the berachah "'asok b'divrei Torah" before the reading. The recitation of Kaddish Y'tom was never omitted (in a typically and beautifully inconsistent Reform way) for the sake of those for whom it was an important mitzvah to observe.

    At my current position, we have a daily sunset service (Maariv) at 5:30 (Sunday-Thursday) throughout the year, led by a lay reader and soloist. The service is conducted in its entirety, with or without a minyan. In truth, there are times when no congregation is present, but the service is read through, announcements and all! It meets a need for congregants and others who wish to say Kaddish daily during the mourning period or on the actual yahrzeit of a parent, spouse, or child (heaven forbid)…


  11. May 2006 Digest 077

    …a short description of the Palestinian minyan…

    It seems that our recent custom that ten are a minyan is a custom of Babylonian origin, but there is also a Palestinian custom mentioned (Massechet Soferim (10:8) (and Tossafot Megillah 23b) which counts seven persons into a minyan. But even the Babylonian tradition tried to deal with this ruling. Rab Huna suggests in Talmud (Berachot 47b) to count the Aron haKodesh and the sefer Torah as a person! I think the Central Conference of American Rabbis ruled in a responsa (Vol. XLVI, 1936, p. 127) that a Palestinian minyan is sufficient…


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