March 2007: Who wants to be a Minyan-aire?

As you may know, Temple Beth Sholom has morning minyan Monday through Friday at 7:15 a.m. and Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and weekday evening minyans Monday through Thursday at 6:45 p.m.

If you have a secret desire to attend the minyan but you think your clothes are wrong, or you don’t know Hebrew, or you’re afraid you’ll get called up for an aliyah, you need not worry.  You are welcome to attend minyan and there are no strings attached.

As one of Temple Beth Sholom’s best kept secrets, you should know that the minyan is a comfortable place to meet members of the congregation in a small, informal setting. If you attend the minyan even once a week for a while, you will be surprised at how many people you will suddenly feel you know at larger shul gatherings.

Even if you don’t know Hebrew or aren’t a regular shul-goer, you can easily participate in the minyan service.  The easiest thing to do is to just start on the page where the service begins and read along at your own speed. On most days, someone will call out page numbers, and if the leader forgets to do this, no one will mind if you ask the person next to you or look pointedly at their prayer book to see where they are. Stand up when you feel others standing up around you, and sit down when they sit down.  Truth be told, no one else at the minyan will be looking over your shoulder to see if you are following along.  Mostly, people simply will appreciate that you are there, helping to ensure that there are enough people present so that mourners can say Kaddish.  

Attending minyan is a good opportunity to simply reflect on the prayers, your day, people or questions you’re concerned about, or anything else. You can even space out for a long period of time and forget that you are at the minyan, until you notice that everyone has gone home and you’re alone in the room — although this is not likely to happen!

A concern you might have at the morning minyan is that everyone except you will be wearing tefillin. While Temple Beth Sholom, as a Conservative congregation, encourages the wearing of tefillin, you can look around the room and notice that there are people both with and without tefillin; there is no pressure to wear tefillin unless or until you are comfortable with it.

Newcomers to the minyan are often concerned that they will get called up for an aliyah and they won’t know what to do. You should know that you always have the option to say “no thanks” if this happens, and no one will make fun of you or be offended. On the other hand, there is a transliterated version of the blessings next to the Torah, and the gabbai will be happy to help you if you would like to give it a try. If you’ve never had an aliyah, the minyan can be a small place to practice before trying it in the larger Shabbat service. Or, you can get a copy of the transliterated blessings to practice at home, so that the next time you are called upon, you will feel comfortable.

Aside from Shabbat services, Temple Beth Sholom conducts 10 minyans each week.  Please consier coming every now and again.  If you enjoy it and can commit to a regular “time slot,” all the better.  And please tell your friends