Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Independent minyan gossip column #3

  • Minyan war in the City of Brotherly Love??? After years of discontent about the lack of independent minyanim in Center City Philadelphia (that's "downtown" to everyone else), someone had the idea to start one. And someone else had almost exactly the same idea at almost exactly the same time. There is a popular trend of giving minyanim names that translate English terms associated with the locality into Hebrew: in NYC alone, Greenwich Village has Kol HaKfar ("the Village Voice"), and Harlem has Techiyah ("renaissance"). Both new Center City minyanim hopped on this nomenclature bandwagon. Minyan Merkaz ("minyan of the center") is an independent traditional egalitarian Friday night minyan that has met a few times so far. Meanwhile, B'Merkaz ("in center" or "in the center of") is an independent traditional egalitarian Friday night minyan that has announced its first service for June 9, the same time as Minyan Merkaz's next meeting. According to Mah Rabu's sources, the two minyanim arose entirely independently, and were not aware of each other's existence before this week. What will happen? Will the two minyanim join forces? Will one of them change its name? Only time will tell.
  • Kol Zimrah's style of musical prayer (called "spiritual, highly idiosyncratic" by the Forward) combines a diverse set of Jewish influences. This has the benefit of bringing together a diverse community of people drawn from the union of sets A, B, and C (Note: three is an arbitrary number here and has no deeper significance), but has the complication of restricting the pool of potential self-sufficient shelichei/ot tzibbur (service leaders) to the intersection of A, B, and C. In order to expand this pool and become a more participatory community, the Funk is launching a weekly workshop this summer in which KZ participants will exchange skillsets. Experienced guitar players will teach others how to play guitar, and experienced service leaders will teach others how to lead services.
  • All of these independent communities are converging in August at the National Havurah Committee Summer Institute. As many as can fit, anyway. This year's Everett Fellows Program was more popular than ever, with 33 people applying for 18 spots. Unfortunately, this means that many qualified applicants had to be turned away due to finite funding. Someone reading this post must have some money lying around; would you like to fund some more scholarships so that all these great folks can come to Institute? In the meantime, regular Institute registration is still open (and filling up faster than usual), while supplies last!


  1. Wow! Why can't either of them have their next meeting this week? Oh well. If you want I can scope it out next semester...

  2. I'm so excited for NHC's Summer Institute, you have no idea!