Egalitarian Conservative Minyan Meeting
23 people were present. We thank you for coming and contributing your
opinions, and we are happy that so many people were able to come.
October 30, 1995
1) Birkat Hamazon
- It was decided by general consensus to keep the
Birkat Hamazon as is. The word "Chaverai" may be added to, but may not
replace the word "Rabotai" at the beginning, and later may not replace
the other terms in "Birshut Maranan v'Rabanan v'Rabotai". Please see
item number one on page one of the summary of the meeting on March 27,
1995 for further detail.
- This fell into three categories.
- a) Respecting the gabbaim
- It should be understood that the
gabbaim put effort into asking people to participate in services, and
that it is very difficult to get a wide variety of people when there is a
small core group who is interested. It is encouraged that everyone
participate as much as they feel comfortable and if they would like to
learn how to lead a service, chant Torah or Haftorah, they should know
that the gabbaim are willing to help. Please see item number two on page
two of last year's March summary for further detail. It was encouraged
that members of the community not make executive decisions or exercise
control over the happenings of the minyan without consulting the
gabbaim. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the gabbaim need to
consult on a more regular basis before services if something non-standard
will be happening during the service which deserves attention before
services so as to avoid discussion during services.
- b) Respecting Birkat Hamazon/ Prayer
- We need to keep in mind
that we should be respectful when we bentch or pray.
- c) Respecting each other
- We need to realize that comments
made at the minyan to minyan members do affect the way the minyan feels
to many people, and that our actions and words may have negative
implications. There are many people who no longer feel comfortable in
our community and we need to remedy that by looking at our interactions
with others in another light. Rabbi Winick pointed out that all of us
are responsible for this and all of us have to deal with the fact that
not everyone who could feel at home in our minyan does anymore. It is
encouraged that we try to make each other feel more comfortable as a
community in whatever way we can.
3) Community issues
- a) Lunch
- We will try to have Saturday lunch together as a
community, no matter in which room we end up, and we shall respect those
who are still eating when deciding when to start Birkat Hamazon. Sherman
Function Hall will be reserved as much as possible, but it should be
realized that Saturday afternoon functions are quite common and we cannot
always get that room.
- b) Seudah Shlishit/ Havdalah
- It was encouraged by a few people
that we try new tunes for Havdalah every once in a while and that they be
taught during Seudah Shlishit. In addition we should attempt to use the
slow tune at the end of Birkat Hamazon more often. Praise was expressed
for the improved community feeling at Seudah Shlishit this year, and
concern was expressed for the type of songs we sing. We need to remember
that Seudah Shlishit falls at the end of Shabbat so many of our tunes
will be slow and mellow. On the converse, we need to remember on Friday
night that we are starting Shabbat and should not be singing as mellow as
we would be on a Saturday night.
- c) Speed of davening
- Some prayers need to be slowed down and
others need to be sped up. The upshot is that whomever is leading needs
to realize the needs of the community as much as he/she can, and the
community needs to realize that it is very hard for the Shaliach Tzibbur
to decide whether he/she is davening too fast or too slow. To this end,
it was suggested that the gabbaim quietly inform the leader during the
service if a pace change needs to be made. The point was also made that
the community should not try to speed up or slow down the leader by
singing too loudly and powerfully in their own speed. We need to let the
leader set the pace. Lastly, the comment was made that Shir HaMaalot is
generally done too quickly.
- d) Singing
- It was encouraged that the leader lead the
community during the service in singing many of the prayers that are
singable. Some would like to see more tunes done in Pesuke DeZimra, some
would like to see Az Yashir Moshe done more often, and some would like to
see a wider variety of tunes used.
Issues discussed and tabled until further discussion:
1) Having a halachic authority help us to make decisions
- We debated
the merits of having someone either make halachic decisions for us or to
help us make decisions. It was pointed out that there is a difference
between halachic issues and issues that we can deal with on our own. It
was also pointed out that this may not be the most beneficial thing for
us unless we can find someone to be with us one or two Shabbatot per
semester at the least. It should be understood that though Rabbi Winick
is involved with us and cares greatly about our minyan, she does not want
this role. It was observed that we may want someone to teach and to be a
resource, and that this might be more expensive than someone who is only
a resource and does not teach. Other issues of concern were the
possibility of getting an alum to do this, the possibility of getting
more than one person to fulfill the needs of more than one segment of our
diverse community, and going to the Conservative Movement's Law Committee
for free advice. Issues of who would pick the advisor, monetary issues,
and other related issues will be discussed in another meeting. 13 people
voted to have another meeting concerning how to deal with this process.
2 were opposed. 7 abstained.
2) Liturgical changes
- It was pointed out that perhaps our policy (see
issue 2 on page one of last year's minutes from the March meeting) should
change if there is an overwhelming feeling that it needs to be changed,
but the policy seemed generally to be accepted by most in attendance. It
was pointed out that our Prayer book, Sim Shalom, already makes many
liturgical changes, and there was interest in forming a separate meeting
to discuss these changes and others that may need to be made depending on
interest of the community. It should be noted that the inclusion of
Imahot in the Amidah is not the only change which is being considered,
but there are no specifics yet as to which changes might be discussed at
this separate meeting.
- Issues to consider: We don't have many active Cohanim
and Leviim in our minyan. We are halachically based, and it is
halachically acceptable to call Cohanim and Leviim and it is a minority
opinion that it is acceptable not to call them for the first and second
aliyot. There are active people in our minyan who feel very strongly on
both sides. It was proposed after much discussion that we vote to call
Cohanim and Leviim to the Torah for the first and second Aliyot
respectivelly, giving the Cohanim and Leviim the privelige to choose to
accept their honor or not to. 11 were in favor and 11 were opposed, no
abstentions. Therefore a movement was made to table the discussion until
the next meeting: 15 voted to table it, out of 22 present at the time.
After considering the concerns of classes in the late afternoon, members
of our community wanting more opportunity to say Kaddish in an
egalitarian setting, and the concern of being able to get a minyan in the
evening, we decided to try a daily weekday maariv set for 6:30 each night
(Mon-Thurs), possibly a little earlier on Sundays. We will start this
Monday, November 6 at 6:30 pm, somewhere in the Sherman building, exact
location to be announced.
It was decided to keep morning weekday minyan on Monday and Thursday only
(with the exceptions of Rosh Chodesh and holidays) at this time. The
concern was expressed that people are having trouble getting up early,
and everyone at the meeting was encouraged to come to morning minyan as
much as they can.
If you have any questions contact:
Heather Amy Austern '96, or
Micah Berman '98
Gabbaim, Brandeis University Egalitarian Conservative Minyan 95-96
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David Rosenthal D.O. was a gabbi of the Brandeis Egal Minyan 1992-1993.
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