Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Adventures in online shul-hopping :)

Shul-hopping = visiting a synagogue other than the one to which one usually goes

Shul-hopping used to require one to actually enter a synagogue, but these days, virtual visits are the safest, and, except among the halachically observant, often the only, way to go.

The manner of presenting a virtual service can make one's visit interesting.

Some synagogues, minyanim, and other prayer groups provide a Zoom link to members only, while directing other pray-ers to a livestream.  That creates something of a "spectator-sport" effect for non-members, as we livestream viewers watch the members greet one another on the Zoom screen(s).

Other prayer groups open their Zoom link to all pray-ers.  This can result in some interesting moments.  There we were, doing our usual Friday-afternoon running around--finishing the cooking and getting all the food onto the hot-tray, setting the table for Shabbat, taking out the papers and the trash*--when it suddenly registered with me:  "Eek, this is a Zoom, not a livestream--we have to wear 'real' clothes!"  A quick wardrobe change ensued, with my husband switching from shorts to long dress pants and me exchanging my rolled-up jeans for a skirt.  :) 

Zooming into someone else's worship space can feel as odd as entering someone else's shul in real life--you don't know anyone, and no one knows you.  But we have been welcomed by members and/or clergy on several occasions.  Do go.

Then, of course, there's the "two rabbis, three opinions" problem--do ten Jews on a Zoom constitute a halachically-acceptable (acceptable by Jewish religious law) minyan or not, and what is the halachic status of a livestream?  Some rabbis make no bones about their opinion that the livestream that they're presenting instead of a Zoom (to avoid activating anything electrical on Shabbat/Sabbath) is *not* a minyan, and they simply skip all parts of the service that can't be done without a minyan (d'varim sheh-bi-k'dushah).  They may or may not count their weekday Zoom services as halachic minyanim.  Others take the exact opposite approach, and, counting their Zoom as a minyan, run some semblance of a standard Shabbat service (shortened to prevent "Zoom fatigue" and/or eyestrain).

And, naturally, there are the folks who can't make up their minds.  We were quite pleasantly surprised, when attending Friday night services online recently, to see the baal tefillah (prayer leader) begin with Mincha, the Afternoon Service.  That's a first for our online Shabbat "attendance"--we're never before seen a congregation pray the Mincha service before praying the introductory Kabbalat Shabbat service in any virtual visit. But the baal tefillah also surprised us by chanting the first and second paragraphs (Avot and G'vurot) of the Amidah prayer, then continuing silently.  For lack of a better description, that was the first time in all my 71 years that I've heard someone lead a heicha kedusha without chanting the kedusha.  Adding to the confusion, they then led the Mourner's Kaddish (Kaddish Yatom).  Huh?  Make up your mind--do you or don't you consider this Zoom minyan a halachic minyan, and, if not, why are you leading Kaddish?  Thoroughly confused, my husband and I stood up for the Bar'chu call to worship, only to have the baal tefillah skip it and go directly to the first b'rachah (blessing) of Maariv, the Evening Service--and then lead the Mourner's Kaddish again after the Aleinu prayer.  What gives???

Oh.  Okay.  I get it.  This would never happen in an Orthodox (or consistently halachically-observant) minyan, but I've encountered this before among my fellow "renegades"--even if you're willing to omit everything else that can't be said without a minyan, you just can't bring yourself to deprive mourners of the comfort of reciting Mourner's Kaddish, whether your prayers are taking place online or whether you're all in the same room with only seven Jews.

These are some of the interesting experiences that we've encountered while praying with groups online.  For those who accept online prayer services and attend them, I'd love to hear about some of your own experiences.

*Link for those too young to get the reference.


Blogger Maya Resnikoff said...

I don't remember, off hand, the full reasoning behind the "kaddish yatom and no other dvarim shebikdusha" shita, but it does exist, and is something I've seen/heard about in a few "zoom minyans"... So it isn't a weird randomness- there's an actual line of halakhic reasoning that suggests that kaddish yatom is in some way different from the other tefillot that require a minyan, and it can be done with a quarum that isn't physically present, even though the others require a minyan of people in the same location (though once you have that, some people will allow someone zooming into that minyan to still say kaddish, etc).

I hope that is of some help in making sense of the quirks of various minyanim...

Wed Sep 02, 06:56:00 PM 2020  
Blogger Maya Resnikoff said...

Forgot to add- that said, I admire very much your shul hopping. We haven't zoomed in to even our own regular shul... Instead, we're doing a "sing it all with the kids" thing all the time.

Wed Sep 02, 06:57:00 PM 2020  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Maya Resnikoff, it's good to hear from you again! (Sorry it took me so long to respond.)

"there's an actual line of halakhic reasoning that suggests that kaddish yatom is in some way different from the other tefillot that require a minyan, and it can be done with a quarum that isn't physically present,"

Wow, thanks for the information! If you can post further details, that would be great!

Mon Sep 07, 01:08:00 PM 2020  

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