Monday, March 28, 2011

Jewish politics

Heard recently (off-blog) from one of my readers: Somewhere in a North American city, a Partnership Minyan, with the blessing of some local Orthodox rabbis, is meeting in, of all places, a Reform synagogue. (!) According to my informant, there was simply no room at any of the local Orthodox synagogues. But I told my informant that I thought there was actually an advantage to holding a Partnership Minyan in a non-Orthodox synagogue--since non-Orthodox synagogues are beyond the jurisdiction of either the Orthodox Union and/or the National Council of Young Israel, the local Orthodox synagogues and/or their rabbis could play innocent and be spared the usual public attacks, and the minyan could conduct its services in the manner approved by the consulted Orthodox rabbis without outside interference.

Here's a question for my readers: Are any of the Partnership Minyanim in North America affiliated, directly or indirectly, with the OU or YI, or do they all avoid such affiliations like the plague in order to be free to conduct their services in their chosen manner?


Blogger Miami Al said...

What does affiliation mean?

This Minyanim are normally independent, and quite creative, and are targeting young couples, individuals, and the occasional family that used to be in the former two categories. They are informal, and while they profess to be Halachic, as no Rabbi would argue in favor of these, clearly not groups in need of a Rabbinic leader.

If they are in an established Shul, they wouldn't be in the main sanctuary, alternative Minyanim are using in classrooms, libraries, etc.

So I'm not sure what level of affiliation you are looking for?

Mon Mar 28, 12:51:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Geoffrey said...

I've wondered about these partnership minyanim. What do they do if 10 men and 9 women show up? How about 40 men and 0 women? Do they all go home without davening? Do they skip devarim she-b'kedushah in spite of having a halakhic minyan? Just curious, I really have no idea.

I also wonder if this signals a backing-off from the psak by R' Moshe Feinstein, which, IIRC, basically said that an O jew is forbidden to enter a R or C shul, even to establish an independent halakhic minyan.

Mon Mar 28, 01:01:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If a partnership minyan doesn't have ten men and ten women, they don't do anything that requires a minyan. Full stop. Other davenning will go on as usual, but as though no minyan is present. I've been in a partnership minyan where the gabbai announced, "okay everyone, we've got exactly ten men and ten women. Nobody leave!" They take this idea very seriously. I thought it was a little silly, because I'm egalitarian, so I thought we had a minyan twice over. But if they're going to do it this way, the only way for them to actually live up to the principles of the group (if not the principles of individual members) is to hold fast to the 10-10 rule.

Mon Mar 28, 01:33:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

" . . . no Rabbi would argue in favor of these . . . "

Miami Al, check some of the responsa on the linked Partnership Minyan page. *Some* rabbis would argue in favor, though you might not agree with their reasoning.

I'm afraid that my question was not phrased in a clear enough manner. I certainly wouldn't expect a Partnership Minyan, or any other alternative service (such as a Women's Tefillah Group), to take place in the main sanctuary. What I'm really curious to know is whether Partnership Minyanim take place in OU-affiliated synagogues at all, or whether these groups tend to rent space in "neutral territory" or in the synagogues of the "loyal opposition." (I take it for granted that National YI, which won't even allow WTG's in its shuls, won't allow Partnership Minyanim either.)

Geoffrey, my understanding is that some Partnership Minyanim insist on a 10+10 arrangement and others do not. I would imagine that the 10+10 minyanim might find it more difficult to conduct a full public service with devarim sheh-b'k'dushah (prayers requiring a minyan), especially as the female participants enter their childbearing years. Given that challenge, I think there's something to be said for the good old "Hashkamah (early) Minyan." My understanding is that Hashkamah Minyanim were originally created about 100 years ago for men who absolutely had to work on Shabbat/Sabbath in order to feed their families, but wanted to daven/pray, at least, before going to work. Their current survival seems to suit both doctors on call and parents of young children, who can take turns watching the kids and going to shul.

Mon Mar 28, 01:44:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon., sorry I was writing a comment while you were posting one. Thanks for the clarification.

Mon Mar 28, 01:48:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know of such a minyan that altough it will allow women aliyot on Shabbat, it will only due so for the 4-7 aliyot and maftir. They insist that the first 3 aliyot must be for a mail Kohen, Levi and Yisrael, as they don't recognize that a bas-kohen or bas-levi is the same thing as kohen or levi. Also, even if one holds that the issue of k'vod ha-tzibbur doesn't apply today vis a vis women receiving aliyot, the Gemara is quite clear that the first three aliyot must be for men, and the even if theoritically women could get aliyot it is only after the first three have been discharged by men. I believe that many years ago it was more common for those Conservative shuls that started giving women aliyot to follow this practice.

Mon Mar 28, 02:05:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...


"Miami Al, check some of the responsa on the linked Partnership Minyan page. *Some* rabbis would argue in favor, though you might not agree with their reasoning."

Permitting is not the same as arguing in favor. No Orthodox Rabbi that has a job working for an Orthodox Congregation would suggest that the partnership Minyan is the preferred manner of communal prayer. It is normally at best indifference to an acceptable action.

I have zero problem with a minyan requiring 10/10 to start. However, if there are 10 men/7 women, there is a Minyan. Now, if you want to disperse to avoid having a minyan without a partnership minyan, I completely respect that, but praying as though there is no minyan when there is such a minyan is to me, a problem.

Asking that nobody leave is a perfectly reasonable position to take. Pretending that there is no minyan when there is one is entering shaky ground.

Mon Mar 28, 02:21:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Geoffrey said...

"Asking that nobody leave is a perfectly reasonable position to take. Pretending that there is no minyan when there is one is entering shaky ground."

Yeah, this is what I had in mind. Somewhat along these lines, except for Shabbat morning, if we don't manage a minyan people usually just leave, which I find a bit troublesome, but at least you aren't costing anyone a minyan. If you HAVE one and disperse, causing at least someone to not have a minyan for that service, I would think that would be a halakhic problem in and of itself. Similarly, proceeding but skipping Kaddish and Kedushah seems dodgy. I don't know the specific principles that apply here, though, so I was curious if there are known solutions to these problems.

Mon Mar 28, 02:38:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Partnership Minyanim do seem to cure some problems and create other ones. That certainly is an issue.

Mon Mar 28, 05:01:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

It is my understanding that the OU prohibits Partnership Minyanim from taking place in their member shuls. They do make an exception however if the Partnership Minyan is renting space from the OU shul and is not affiliated with that shul.

Sun Dec 16, 09:20:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

That's what I get for not checking my e-mail more often--sorry for the delayed response.

Nate, thanks for that information.

Sun Dec 23, 08:42:00 AM 2012  

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