Monday, August 9, 2010

Maintaining Minyanim

This week's announcements at the conclusion of shabbat morning services included an invitation to play softball the next day and a reminder to the men in attendance that the minyan failed to materialize several times during the previous week.  On four occasions they got nine, which would make for a softball team which I think counts women, but not for a minyan which does not.  I could have gone yesterday morning but didn't, even though I am an Ovel.  I hardly ever miss Friday night at the Reform Beth Emeth and if not on call generally make it to shabbos morning for kaddish but I do not feel captured by the plea of the Rabbi and a few others for community.  On occasion, it is announced that a particular individual has yahrtzeit and a few men set their clocks to enable attendance.  But other than shabbat and Sunday mornings, the required quorum does not always materialize.

Ari Goldman's Living a Year of Kaddish   included several hundred pages on minyanim, largely struggling ones, despite his orthodox practice.  During my shiva last fall we got the ten at the two Chabad locations in Florida and at AKSE each morning but struggled with the evenings, requiring personal invitations.

In many ways the minyan has become a club with its regulars.  They see themselves as a predictable service to others who can take it or leave it, but never see a need to inconvenience the club members in any way to make it more attractive or secure.  There will be appeals for attendance as long as the required ten remains insecure.  Once there are ten regulars, as there were at AKSE not that many years ago before three of the daily attendees made Aliyah, the solicitation to have more people attend loses its urgency.  There is no longer a reason to expand the club or modify it so that it might be more attractive to more men.

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