16 September 2011

New Mincha Service, Daily, 2:45

One of the more spiritually comforting practices of living in Jerusalem each summer is that most of my daily prayer options (all?) are essentially Traditional, or what we might denominationally refer to as "orthodox."  Those such labels, I find, are becoming increasingly meaningless.

Anyway, while for the majority of the year my practice in New York is solitary daily morning prayer and an occasional evening communal prayer (kaddish minyans, Hebrew school, the like) it's the Afternoon service--Mincha/מנחה that often gets short-schrift.  Americans are hardly a siesta culture--we tend to save our rest time for the gym or the bar at the end of the day and it has become clearer to me over the years that a brief respite, a spiritual moment, if you will, can be beneficial to one's mental health.

So returning in August I determined to establish a Mincha Minyan at CBE each afternoon, Monday through Thursday at 2:45 pm in the Chapel.  All are welcome.

Yesterday was the end of our second week and we made a minyan for a congregant whose mother died over the summer.  As our prayers ascended in harmony at Aleynu, the congregant remained standing, and prepared to memorialize the soul of the woman who brought her into the world.  And since she was the one in mourning and we have cast this daily ritual in a kind of traditional format, all others praying were then seated.

The drama of standing to be seen, with our hearts and eyes on her with love and support as she praised God and sanctified life in the face of her grief was a powerful reminder for each of us, in the middle of our busy preparations for the High Holy Days, of why we do what we do.

I invite you to drop by Mondays through Thursdays at 2:45 pm. 


Larry Kaufman said...

I note your comment about the mourner standing for Kaddish while the congregation remains seated. Is that your minhag at your other services as well?

I think the Reform movement eroded the power of the Kaddish and the yahrtzeit -- and thus the connection to the synagogue -- by having everyone rise.

That said, 2:45 is an unusual time for a service. How many come? What's the demographic?

Andy Bachman said...

hi larry. it's our usual custom at cbe on shabbat and holidays to have the congregation stand together at kaddish, as is the old custom among reform jews. with mincha, our new custom is to just have the mourner stand. perhaps part of that idea is to attempt to restore some of the uniqueness and power of those moments when we do say kaddish. as to why 2.45 pm? basically, it fits nicely in that time slot for the staff and others in the community open to trying this out.