Monday, June 11, 2012

Any Takers for a Shiva Minyan?

What does it mean when your shul sends out the following email?
A member of our congregation is unfortunately sitting shiva for his parent.  It has been brought to our attention that he has not been able to get a minyan all week. 
Please, whether you know him or not, and if you are able to - please help him make a minyan tonight or tomorrow morning. 
A community is hard to establish and even harder to maintain.  In light of my recent post asking about minyan times and when the entire congregation gathers together as one - this recent email had me thinking about a reciprocal problem: how to best to garner commitments from people to sustain each and every minyan!

My father was a person who was adamant about supporting and sustaining a daily minyan and I remember once, when I was on recess in afternoon Hebrew School, leaving the basketball game at the request of the shul beadle to help make a minyan.  I could hear my father willing me out of my free time exercise to go help those that wanted to say kaddish; I think this says a lot about the value of community and the sacrifice of individuals for that cause.

One of the essential questions that drives this blog is how one can evaluate the success of teaching tefilla and I have struggled to share and offer qualitative resources.  Two instruments to measure 'success' is counting who shows up or whether the prayer happens on a regular basis.  If it is a school minyan, does the tefilla start on time or is it delayed because of stragglers?  Or despite the enthusiasm, can you celebrate that the tefilla has happened each day of the school year?

Regardless if these are your instruments to evaluate, sending out the above email to your congregation is a poor indicator of tefilla values.  Either there is a lack of attention to sustain a minyan under more extreme circumstances or there is a significant lack of kindness extended to those out of your immediate circle of friendship.   

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