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Posts Tagged ‘minyanim’

Making a Horse Look Like an Elephant

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/making-horse-look-like-elephant.html

There is a relatively new phenomenon in Left Wing Modern Orthodoxy called the Partnership Minyan. One such Minyan, Lechu Neranena, is located in Bala Cynwyd, Pensylvania which in on the western edge of Philadelphia.

Michael Gordan who is the president of this Shul has written an article about it. Here is how he describes it:

(A Partnership Minayn is) where women are able to participate more fully than in traditional Orthodox synagogues. Though services are conducted with a mechitzah, or divider, between men and women, women may speak before the congregation, make Kiddush and lead Kabbalat Shabbat, the service of psalms and poetry welcoming the Shabbat. In those minyanim that meet on Shabbat morning, women may have aliyot, read from the Torah and lead some other parts of the service.

I am not going to go into the technicalities about the Halachic problems involved here. I believe there may in fact be such problems. But for purposes of this post I will concede that everything they do falls within the parameters of the strict letter of Halacha.

I will even concede that there may actually be a place for such Minyanim. If there is no technical violation of Halacha, it is far more preferable to attend this type of Shul than it would be to attend a non-Orthodox Shul. Or even a Traditional Shul where there is no Mechitza. So I do not support any bans against them. But that does not make me any more comfortable with the idea of such radicalism.

For those seeking a more  tailor made prayer experience – there is a lot of latitude in the way a Shul can operate and still be considered within the mainstream.

There are Modern Orthodox Shuls with Halachicly minimal Mechitzos.  There are Chasidic Shtieblach  that have women in an entirely separate room. There are high walled Mechitzos, balcony Mechitzos… One Orthodox Shul I attended in Canada has women seated in a balcony whose walls facing the men are  made out of ordinary ‘see-through’ glass!

The style of prayer is widely varied. Yeshivsh, Baalei Battish, Chasidish, Agudah, Mizrachi, Young Israel, Modern Orthodox… Some have weekly speeches by the rabbi on a wide variety of subjects – some don’t. There are singing shuls  and dancing shuls (like Carelbach). There are rabbis wearing  Shtreimlach, Hamburgs, Fedoras, and knit Kipot, suade Kipot, and velvet Kipot.

There are fast shuls and slow Shuls; Shuls with a Kiddush and Shuls without a Kiddush.There are Shuls that will have men and women together for the  Kiddush and Shuls that will sepearte them.

There are even MO Shuls that allow women to speak after Davening from the pulpit.

The point being that a very wide variety of choices are available that are well within the mainstream of Orthodoxy where the Shul experience will be relatively confortable for just about anyone. But when one begins to tamper with the essential features of a Shul to the point where it starts looking like something else altogether – that goes too far in my view. Those shuls start looking like they are prioritizing something other than prayer.

I happen to believe that these Partnership Minyanim are sourced in a culture that is foreign to Judaism -  the radical feminist ideal of equating the sexes in all areas of life. In Orthodoxy that idea is doomed to failure. The mere fact that women can never be counted towards constituting a Minyan means that equality can never be fully achieved in the sense that feminism requires it. Even if there are a hundred women and 9 men, there is no Minyan. And there are many other such impediments for Orthodox women with respect to the synagogue.

Many Orthodox feminists will counter by saying that they understand that Halacha comes first. But they insist that they should be allowed to get as close to feminist ideal of equality of the sexes as possible. They will therefore seek novel ways to do so sometimes bordering on violating Halacha  – like Rabbi Avi Weiss’s innovation of allowing women to lead  Kabalas Shabbos.

Just because Halacha has technically not been violated that doesn’t mean that you are doing the right thing. No matter how sincere those who advocate such shuls are  – the Partnership Minyan makes a priority of feminist ideals first albeit while making concessions to Halacha in the process.  It’s like taking a horse, attaching elephant ears and a trunk; painting it grey -and still calling it a horse. Yes – it’s a horse. But it sure looks like an elephant. We should not be making horses look like elephants.

Scotland’s Only Glatt Kosher Restaurant

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

If you are seeking a new place to visit this summer with all kosher amenities at your disposal, why not visit Scotland? Glasgow has a full range of Jewish facilities to cater for tourists and business people alike. Including daily minyanim, a mikveh for men and women, and kosher food. Edinburgh has a mikveh for ladies, minyanim only a few times during the week.

Whatever holiday you require, be it luxury, basic or partial self-catering, let L’Chaim’s Restaurant provide all your culinary requirements. These include nightly dining at L’Chaim’s gourmet restaurant, ready to heat/hot meals delivered to your hotel (or can be collected), breakfast trays, lunch trays, fresh sandwiches, and a comprehensive menu of all Shabbos meals including cholent with or without a slow cooker anywhere in Scotland.

The restaurant is under the hashgacha of the West of Scotland Kashrus commission and is personally supervised by Rabbi Chaim and Rebbetzin Sora Jacobs, Lubavitch shluchim in Glasgow for 42 years. Only Kedassia or MH Manchester shechita is used.

When you walk into L’Chaim’s you are invited to dine in the candle-lit dining room with its own decorative ambiance. Its elegant setting and smart décor is ideal for a relaxing night out and business meetings.

Once seated, freshly baked French baguettes are brought to your table and the experience of first class cuisine in trendy surroundings begins. L’Chaim’s has a wine license and you can enjoy a choice of 15 popular kosher wines.

The restaurant is located on the complex of Giffnock Shul, the largest congregation in Scotland, headed by Rabbi Moshe Rubin. It is the only shul with a daily and Shabbos minyan both morning and evening.

Besides numerous luxury hotels in Glasgow, there are two small hotels close to Giffnock Shul, enabling people to enjoy Shabbos minyanim and atmosphere. People can purchase all their Shabbos and weekday meals from L’Chaim’s.

You can try one of the two hotels listed below: Redhurst Hotel, tel. 0141-638-6465, Redhurst@lineone.ne. Orchard Park Hotel, tel. 0141-638-1044, e-mail ozcapaldi@hotmail.com.

Hotels in Scotland will heat and store meals for guests as required and provide a table for guests to enjoy their Shabbos and weekday kosher food. Check with the hotel when booking your room.

For further information, see go to www.lchaimsrestaurant.co.uk.

My Machberes

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Emergency Call From Woodbourne

The historic B’nai Israel of Synagogue in Woodbourne, New York, under the leadership of Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, beloved Nikolsburger Rebbe, has issued an emergency call for help in finalizing its preparations to serve the Catskills region and beyond this summer.

The Department of Buildings has determined the shul’s roof, built in 1922, is no longer safe. A simple calculation of the number of minyanim daily, including Shabbos and Sunday, and the average number of mispallelim at each minyan, tells us the shul had upward of 60,000 visits last summer. With so many people using the shul, the safety of its structure is an absolute necessity.

B'nai Israel Synagogue in Woodbourne

On January 15, 1999, the B’nai Israel Synagogue, with its signature outdoor menorah, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. With its present expanded function, the shul has now also achieved a place in Jewish history as the first shul to have non-stop minyanim in the Catskills. With the shul officially recognized as a historic building, expert workmanship is required to restore the its roof to meet the necessary safety regulations.

Work on the roof work is underway. However, its cost is daunting. Though much emotional and spiritual support has been and continues to be carried by the shul and the Nikolsburger Rebbe, outside financial support is critically needed. The cost of the roof and related expenses totals more than $100,000. With summer just about here, completing the work is now an emergency.

Even the regular day-to-day financial burden of maintaining the warm setting is considerable. Those wishing to use their tzedakah dollars most effectively should consider helping to underwrite this particularly noble effort. Assisting the shul at this time is worth exertion and self-sacrifice. Assuming a share in the tefillahs and Torah-learning taking place at the Woodbourne Shul will surely be noted and rewarded by the Kadosh Baruch Hu.

* * * * *

During the summer months Woodbourne, officially classified as a hamlet of the town of Fallsburg, sees a dramatic population increase with the influx of observant Jews from all over the greater New York City metropolitan area. Businesses there thrive from the July 4th weekend through Labor Day.

This is the third summer that B’nai Israel Synagogue, on Route 52 (Main Street), will serve the entire Catskills with its 24/7 full-service open-door operations. It exerts a powerful magnetic force throughout the Catskills, with a minyan every fifteen minutes (or even more frequently) and often multiple minyanim in its main sanctuary, beis medrash, and vestibule, drawing mispallelim from the length and breadth of the vacation region and beyond. The Woodbourne Shul now ranks with such famous minyan venues as Shomrei Shabbos in Boro Park, Veretzkier in Flatbush, and Lederman in Bnei Brak.

Nikolsburger Rebbe

Prior to the summer of 2010, the Nikolsburger Rebbe formally met with the B’nai Israel administration, and with their overwhelming support assumed leadership of the Woodbourne Shul. The board of B’nai Israel must be applauded for their many years of self-sacrifice in preserving the facility. Though the shul had not been fully utilized for years, the board’s resilience in its maintenance must be recognized as an important part of its present spectacular success.

During the regular school year Rabbi Jungreis tirelessly serves as rebbe at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, where he has infused thousands of children through the years with passionate Yiddishkeit. In addition, he leads Beis Medrash Khal Chassidei Nikolsburg-Kollel Boro Park at 4912 Sixteenth Avenue in Brooklyn’s Boro Park neighborhood. There, Rabbi Jungreis exercises a captivating pull on chassidishe youth at risk. This special effort continues in Woodbourne during the summer.

Chassidim of Rabbi Jungreis have again freshened and upgraded the Woodbourne Shul in preparation for the summer season. As in years past, they have rented a home across the street to serve as the Nikolsburger Rebbe’s summer residence.

With the walk-in lower level of the shul having been lovingly refurbished and turned into a large beis medrash with walls of sefarim and Judaica, the shul now comfortably accommodates more than one minyan at a time.

A Landscape Transformed Orthodoxy and America’s Elite Universities

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

“Rabbi, did you ever think you would see this day?”

It was 1971, and the university official who asked this question was inviting the rabbi to the dedication of the kosher dining room in Stevenson Hall on the campus of Princeton University.

In light of the anti-Semitism that had prevailed at elite schools until the 1950s, the official was right. But the rabbi he invited was Rav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, zt”l, who would indeed have imagined this moment could come.

Rabbi Teitz called America “golus [exile], but the best golus the Jewish nation has experienced.” He thought President Harry Truman, Senator Hubert Humphrey, and Governor Thomas Kean represented the best qualities of America: a commitment to fairness with a generosity of spirit.

True, these qualities had not always been evident in the Ivy League and Seven Sisters colleges.

Barnard College, for example, had been founded and supported by Annie Nathan Meyer, and later received large donations from Jacob Schiff, both of whom were Jewish. But when Virginia Gildersleeve became the head of Barnard in 1911, her spirit of anti-Semitism prevailed.

In 1916 Schiff gave half a million dollars for the construction of the main building, which was called Students’ Hall. In 1926, after Schiff’s death, the building was named Barnard Hall rather than for the donor. Annie Nathan Meyer protested the blatant anti-Semitism and the pain caused to the Schiff family, but Gildersleeve – who had the support of Columbia’s Nicholas Murray Butler in her approach – did not retreat.

The sole memorial of Schiff’s generosity is a marble plaque set in the floor of the Barnard Hall lobby; when I was a student there we referred to meeting in the lobby as meeting “on Jake,” but we did not know the story behind this.

Gildersleeve and Butler were also perturbed by the number of Jews enrolling in their schools, particularly those whose families had come from Eastern Europe and had excelled in high school here.

Before World War I, forty percent of Columbia’s students were Jewish, and Barnard in the 1920s was heading toward the same percentage. They agreed to stop basing admission on academic achievement and to instead consider interviews, letters of recommendation, and “geographic distribution” as criteria. The last phrase is a code name for non-Jews since Montana, Idaho, and similar locales could be counted on for fewer Jews than the East Coast. Hewitt Hall, a dormitory at Barnard, was built to enable students from distant parts of the country to live on campus.

The irony is that a number of the professors who made these schools renowned were Jewish, at least one of them born in Lithuania – the supposedly “uncultured” Eastern Europe – Meyer Schapiro, who made the department of art history a force in American culture.

Other Jewish notables in the ensuing decades included Isidor Rabi, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1944, Lionel Trilling in English literature, and Franz Boas at Barnard, who developed the fields of anthropology and linguistics.

Gildersleeve was so intent on favoring admission of women from rich Protestant families that she organized the Seven Sisters with Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley to promote her policy of excluding Jews. When she left the deanship in 1947, she lobbied against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

* * * * *

But change was coming. After World War II there was an increased sensitivity to the horrific consequences of anti-Semitism. Although other groups had not suddenly become philo-Semites, outright discrimination was becoming unacceptable. And the pioneers in Israel upended all the old stereotypes of Jews.

Day schools opened across the United States and Canada. In the middle of the nineteenth century Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch had initiated the model of a school with both Jewish and secular studies. Before World War II there were day schools in New York, Baltimore, Boston, Elizabeth, and a handful of other cities. In the postwar years tens of new schools were established. The law of unintended consequences operated; many of the teachers in these schools were European refugees who had managed to arrive in America after the war.

At the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the ‘60s a few graduates of yeshiva high schools were admitted into the top colleges. College administrators were nonplussed by the requirements of observant Jewish undergraduates. No exams on the Sabbath? Who ever heard of a holiday in May called “Shavuot”? Kosher food?

I recall that when I asked to defer a final that was scheduled for Shavuot, the registrar at Barnard said, “Miss Teitz, I’ve heard of your New Year; I’ve heard of your Day of Atonement; I think you’re making this holiday up.”

My sisters and I came to Barnard in the first place because of anti-Semitism. In a public high school in New Jersey, a teacher had said to a student, “I graduated from Barnard, but you will never be accepted there. You’re a rabbi’s daughter; your letter of rejection is guaranteed.” It was 1931, in an era when a Jewish student could not protest such a remark and such a policy. The rabbi’s daughter was my mother, who determined that if she had daughters they would attend Barnard.

Spiegel Shul’s Melaveh Malkah

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Kanner Hall was the site of Ohr HaChaim’s recent annual melaveh malkah. The shul, known as the Spiegel Shul and located in the Fairfax-Hancock Park community, was originally founded by Spiegel family members. The Spiegels still tend to the shul’s needs.

(L-R) Ohr HaChaim (Spiegel Shul) rav, Rabbi Shlomo Klein; attorney Howard Gluck; and Rav Nechemia Langer at the Spiegel Shul’s melaveh malkah.

Howard Gluck, a Spiegel family member who arranged the melaveh malkah and who supervises many the shul’s activities, related the history of its founding. “In 1949 a group of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Los Angeles established Congregation Ohr HaChaim in memory of Chaim Binyomin Spiegel and other family members, Hy”d, who perished in the Holocaust. For over 60 years, the shul has served the Los Angels community as a heimishe makom tefillah and limud Torah. Under the able leadership of our esteemed mara d’asra, Rav Shlomo Klein, shlita, the shul has grown and continues to offer Shabbos and daily minyanim, regularly scheduled shiurim and many other learning opportunities,” he said.

Gluck continued by saying, “It is our hope that with the support of all of you here tonight, our beis medrash will continue to serve and inspire the Los Angeles community and perpetuate the legacy of those in whose memory the shul was founded.”

Rav Klein delivered a d’var Torah, along with his personal observations of the dedication of the shul members and of their endeavors to further Torah and Yiddishkeit in the shul and in the community at large.

An American Odyssey (Part 1)

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Israelis love to travel, and after being an Israeli for some 38 years, we, too, have learned to love traveling. My wife, Barbara, and I recently decided to take a six-week trip with my brother, Avi, and his wife, Martha, across the United States. We loaded up their van in Florida and took off for California.

I did the planning while we were still in Israel via the AAA Internet site. This site not only provides detailed maps but also lists and describes the many attractions along our route. You can plan your route, receive suggestions for alternate roads, map out the sites you want to visit and determine mileage and time estimates (which turned out to be fairly accurate). The Internet also enabled me to find almost all of the Jewish communities in our path and to contact them to ask about the available facilities in each community.

There is a great deal of planning required when Orthodox Jews wish to travel for several weeks on the road. Kosher food was a major requirement, as was home hospitality for Shabbat. We carried prepackaged meals with us, but whenever we could get a good kosher meal in a kosher restaurant (no matter what the cost), we celebrated. Not too many communities had regular daily minyanim, but when we could, we joined them.

One of the nicest parts of the trip was visiting Jewish communities across America. I contacted each community we planned to visit and offered to meet the community and speak about Israel, usually in return for home hospitality. When we contacted a non-Orthodox community, we only asked for sleeping arrangements and explained that we carried our own food supply. I hope to write several articles about the wonderful people we met, about the exciting places we visited, and about the adventures we had. I highly recommend this type of trip to anyone who has the time and energy for it.

We travelled through some 22 states, several of which we had never visited before, despite having been born and having lived in America for the first 35 years of our lives. The saddest thing we noted was the very small number of travelers on the roads (even though we took the trip during vacation time). We also noticed a large number of empty stores in some major cities. The economic downturn this past year has had a major impact on many of the cities and attractions we visited. We usually called the motel we wished to spend the night at sometime in the early afternoon and not once did we have to call more than one motel to find rooms. Not once did we get caught in a traffic jam, nor did we ever find an attraction that was crowded.

We, of course, flew from Israel to the U.S. on El Al. We try to always use our own national airline and, baruch Hashem, are usually very satisfied with the service and the security. Another interesting thing we found was the truth to the motto that I made up, “When all else fails, call Chabad!” Wherever we went in America, Chabad was there to help us find kosher facilities or to provide a Shabbat environment, even in the middle of the wilderness. The Chabad Internet sites were also very helpful in each state.

Before flying down to Florida, we spent two weeks in New York, We purchased much of our food supply, visited our good friends, and prepared for six weeks on the road. While in Brooklyn, we spent a delightful morning attending the 50th anniversary of our graduation from Brooklyn College. Both Barbara and I graduated the same year and were invited by the college to their commencement, where we marched with some 60 other surviving graduates of 50 years ago, in our gold caps and gowns, to the cheers of the more than 3,000 graduates of today. When we attended back in the 1950′s, there were many Orthodox students, so the college supplied kosher food at the breakfast that was part of this event. The class spokeswoman at this year’s graduation was a Muslim Rhodes scholar who wore a head covering, emphasizing the huge change between the students of 50 years ago and today’s college population. Before we left the campus, we stopped in at the Brooklyn College Hillel Foundation where we had first met. The entire day turned out to be a very nostalgic reunion.

 

Which Nusach Should One Use?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Question: What should a person who davens nusach ashkenaz do during kedushah in a shul that davens nusach sefard? Should he use his own nusach or that of the shul he’s in?

Response: This issue is a matter of debate between HaRav Ovadya Yosef, shlita, and HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l.

HaRav Ovadya Yosef  (Yabia Omer, VI, siman 10:4) contends that during the silent recitation of kedushah, a person whose minhag is nusach sefard may recite the kedushah according to his minhag even though he may be davening in a synagogue that is nusach ashkenaz. His logic is that since he is not the shliach tzibbur and is davening silently, there is no halachic mandate to alter his personal nusach. (See Maishiv Davar [Netziv], siman 17, who rules that in silent tefillot it is prohibited to deviate from the nusach of one’s family.)

HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayyim II, siman 23),   disagrees. His position is that the obligation to say kedushah is generated by the tzibbur for there is no obligation to recite kedushah when davening alone. Accordingly, even a silent recitation must be in accordance with the nusach of the tzibbur that enabled kedushah to be said. The silent shmoneh esrei, however, may be recited according to one’s own nusach since the obligation to say shmoneh esrei is not dependent on the tzibbur.

Both Rav Yosef and Rav Feinstein agree that any public recitation of a shliach tzibbur should follow the nusach of the tzibbur.

What confuses the matter is that in Israel a number of minyanim don’t follow any set nusach. Rather they follow the nusach of whoever happens to be the shliach tzibbur that day. The Mizrachi Kehilla in Melbourne, Australia once had such a custom. This, however, generated numerous problems. The community thus took a vote to select a nusach (nusach ashkenaz was chosen) and all shlichei tzibbur were mandated to use it henceforth.

I’m sorry to say that here in the USA this preference for a dual standard still exists. One of our members in Florida, a rav, served as shliach tzibbur and davened nusach Sefard in our shul which is nusach ashkenaz. When requested to daven using nusach ashkenaz, he replied that he was given a psak that he had the right to daven in any nusach he desired. My response was that in other synagogues he may so practice, but in our synagogue he had to use nusach ashkenaz in order to be the shliach tzibbur. He capitulated. At no time was I told the name of the posek who gave him this advice.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/which-nusach-should-one-use/2011/10/26/

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