Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Hachnasat orchim" or "dumbing down?"

From the comments to this post of mine:
Reb Barry said...

Shira, why expect others to take responsibility for someone's prayer experience? That's one of the problems facing American Jewry. Why dumb the service down because some people don't understand? Let those who don't understand find a learner's minyan. If they want to know what parhsa is this week, look it up on the internet before services. Why is it that people are perfectly competent in other spheres of their lives don't want to make an effort to figure out what to do at shul, and want it handed to them?

Sat Oct 03, 12:52:00 PM 2009

I wasn't too happy with that comment at the time, as you can see from my response, but I must admit that Reb Barry does raise an interesting point.

On the other hand, so does Reb Dov.

Reb Dov said...

. . .
The page-number-calling issue was raised when I was a gabbai at the egal minyan at JTS during rabbinical school. Our answer was, "People from the community come here to daven and say kaddish. The extra few seconds it takes to keep them with the kahal is a small price to pay for fulfilling the mitzvah of hakh'nasat or'h.im (hospitality to visitors).

How can synagogues or minyanim accommodate those still in the learning stage without making long-time pray-ers feel that their own prayer experience is being interfered with?

See my April 10, 2010 follow-up post, The pace and scheduling of public prayer.


Anonymous jdub said...

1) occasional page calling is fine. I don't think it needs to be every page, but after chunks of davening, fine.

2) pace of the minyan should be set by the regulars. that means some minyanim will never be "guest" friendly. Others will. Nothing you can do about it. I won't go to a minyan that takes longer than 40 minutes on a regular weekday, 50 minutes with layning.

3) Before starting kaddish, the rabbi/gabbai should announce "Kaddish yatom" or "kaddish d'rabbanan" and the page, and pause a second. Also, there should be one designated mourner whose job it is to say kaddish loud and slow enough so folks can keep up.

Tue Oct 20, 02:20:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

JDub, here's my view.

1) Page calling--where it's particularly helpful:

#. Wherever the minyan starts (usually at "asher natan la-sechvi vina")

#. At any point of the Birkot HaShachar/Morning Blessings section at which pages are skipped. This is especially important if a minyan says the Shir shel Yom/Psalm of the Day at the end of the service but uses a siddur/prayer book that puts the Shir Shel Yom at the end of the Birkot HaShachar section--an unannounced jump of several pages to get to Mizmor, Shir Chanukat HaBayit, l'David will confuse newcomers.

#. Kaddish D'Rabbbanan/Rabbis' Kaddish

#. Mizmor, Shir Chanukat HaBayit, l'David

#. Kaddish Yatom/Mourner's Kaddish

#. Baruch sheh-Amar

#. If the minyan uses a siddur that includes the Sabbath psalms in the regular P'sukei D'Zimrah, an announcement of the page to go to in order to skip the Sabbath psalms on a weekday is helpful.

#. Yishtabach

#. Right before the Amidah

#. Hallel, if applicable

#. Page of the Torah reading, if applicable (sorry, Reb Barry)

#. Y'hall'lu, if applicable

#. Ashrei

#. If La-m'nateach is being skipped, an announcement would be helpful

#. Kaddish Shalem/Full Kaddish

#. Kaddish Yatom/Mourner's Kaddish

#. Shir shel Yom

#. Kaddish Yatom/Mourner's Kaddish

#. Anything related to Rosh Chodesh,the Yamim Noraim/High Holiday season, or Shalosh R'galim/Pilgrimage festivals, including the pages of special psalms and Musaf. And it would certain help to remind folks to remove their t'fillin before Musaf on Rosh Chodesh.

2) Speed is an issue, and I must admit that there's really no way to keep everyone happy. Personally, I'd prefer a 50-minute Shacharit/Morning Service, but I'd settle for 40. I guess people do have to get to work. Sadly, speed-davvening does make praying with any semblance of kavvanah (focus) almost impossible, though. (Sigh.)

3) Yes, one should definitely give the mourners a second to find the page. By the way, in Conservative synagogues, Kaddish Yatom/Mourner's Kaddish is generally led by either the baal t'fillah/prayer leader, the gabbai/shamash, or, especially on Shabbat/Shabbath and Chagim (major holidays), the rabbi.

Tue Oct 20, 03:46:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

Just a quick response to Shira's "3)". While this certainly was the practice at some time, I don't believe it still is. Perhaps some memo went out from 3080 Broadway, but in most of the United Synagogue-affiliated shuls I've been in lately, the clergy/sha'tz defers to one or more mourners for mourner's Kaddish.

And I've been in a LOT of C shuls other than my own in the last three years -- one bar/bat mitzvah cycle for a Ramah camper, and one for a kid in a Schechter (which started in 6th grade and is still in progress in the first half of 8th grade)

Tue Oct 20, 06:25:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Steve, that's quite possible. My local synagogue never made the change, probably because we geezers are used to doing things the way we did them in the 1950s. :)

Tue Oct 20, 10:36:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

My shul produces a CD box-set, which people who are new to the service can buy, either to learn to follow the service and/or to learn to lead.

Thu Oct 22, 09:00:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Bryan, that's a wonderful idea.

Thu Oct 22, 11:27:00 PM 2009  

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