Monday, January 21, 2008

More independent minyan inside baseball

I make a point of being on the email list of every independent minyan in New York City. (There are around 10 right now.) That is, even though I'm temporarily living outside NYC, I haven't unsubscribed from any of them because it would be too much effort to resubscribe in a few months, and besides, there's always the possibility that something interesting will come up.

For example, the latest email from Darkhei Noam contained this interesting locution:

Darkhei Noam is delighted to welcome to the community Rabbi Dr. Elie Holzer, founder of Congregation Shira Chadasha in Jerusalem, who will be visiting us on Shabbat January 25-26, and will be addressing the kehila several times.

At a special Friday Night Tefila in the Chapel at Heschel, Rabbi Holzer will speak before he leads us in a "Shira Chadasha style" Kabbalat Shabbat. [emphasis added]
Why is this interesting? Because "Shira Chadasha style" generally has only one meaning (and a google search for this and other variant spellings confirms this): partnership minyanim, i.e. a service in which men and women participate equally in Torah reading, women may/must lead parts of the service in which the sheliach tzibbur has no formal role, and men lead parts of the service in which the sheliach tzibbur has a formal role.

But this can't possibly be what Darkhei Noam meant in the email, for two reasons:
1) Darkhei Noam is always in this format. And they wouldn't label their usual minhag as "Shira Chadasha style" (as would minyanim that are explicit offshoots of Shira Chadasha), since Darkhei Noam and Shira Chadasha started within a few months of each other, and developed independently.
2) Rabbi Holzer is a dude, and "Shira Chadasha style Kabbalat Shabbat" (in reference to a one-time event) pretty much definitionally means that a woman is leading.

Ergo, "Shira Chadasha style" must be referring to the actual style of prayer (which I assume is different from Darkhei Noam's typical style, though I haven't been to either minyan frequently enough to judge for myself), a trait that is sometimes forgotten when minyanim are defined only or primarily on gender-based axes. The style of prayer is often orthogonal to these gender issues; e.g., here in Jerusalem, there are at least 3 partnership minyanim with very different styles: one is done in 1 hour 45 minutes or less on Shabbat morning, one takes at least 5 hours, and Shira Chadasha itself is in the middle. So Darkhei Noam is making an interesting statement by reassigning this label to refer to a new characteristic. It's important to remember that people who agree on egalitarianism, lack thereof, or degree thereof may agree on little else in their prayer preferences.


  1. I had the same reaction. I'll be there Friday night to see how he defines "Shira Chadasha" style different from "Darkhei Noam" style.

  2. From what I understand, Shirah Chadashah services are heavily-sung, Carlebach-style. Darchei Noam services are less singy, and more similar to a traditional American non-Charedi Ortho friday-night davenninng.

  3. I've heard the quick J-m partnership minyan called "chadasha"

  4. i've heard the quick J-m partnership minyan called "women can mumble too" ;-)

    i'm very disappointed in the abandonment of the term Shira Hadasha Style. "Partnership Minyan", while accurate shorthand (if you know what it means), just sounds sorta corny.

  5. It certainly beats "halachic egalitarian".

  6. How about "Orthodox Egalitarian"?

    I _wish_ Minyan "Shivyoni" (scare quotes added; or as I like to call it -- Minyan Peseudo-Shivyoni where the Peseudo is silent) finished consistently in 1:45; but even if one takes into account their starting 10-15 minutes late (argh!), they usually push 2:00 or even 2:15, depending on parasha, esp. with a devar Torah at the end.

    Oh, and I've heard Shira Hadasha-style used to refer to their kind of extra-long singy tefillah for a few years now, in addition to the gender-style. But good catch on the סתירה -- I don't know how R. Holzer is going to be able lead SH-style tefillot and mantain SH/DN-style gender roles. Hmmm.

  7. How about "Orthodox Egalitarian"?

    But it's not egalitarian. Or did you intend these quotes as scare quotes too (as you did for "Shivyoni")?

  8. Steg-- but as this post indicates, "Shira Chadasha style" can have multiple meanings.

    I hear ya though. I'm not crazy about the term, and it's not the most intuitive, but it seems to work.

  9. According to Wikipedia, "Shira Hadasha-style" is a specific kind of partnership minyan where the parts of the service that require a minyan only occur when there are 10 men and 10 women. Darchei Noam uses the traditional Orthodox definition of minyan as 10 men only.

    However, I doubt that this is the distinction that Darchei Noam is referring to in their email. Especially since such a thing is rarely noticed practically.

    I think partnership minyan is a good term because it is *not* egalitarian (as stated above) but it is characterized by the sharing of some minyan responsibilites.

    Using "Shira Hadasha-style" to refer to all partnership minyanim ignores the variety of styles within that category and glosses over the fact that multiple, similar minyanim started independantly around the same time.

    BZ- Are you on the email list for MigdalOr, a partnership minyan in Washington Heights?

  10. My preferred alternate term for when I get tired of saying "Partnership Minyan":

    "feminist orthodox"

  11. About 6-7 months ago at Darkhei Noam, a male chazzan led Kabalat Shabbat. Immediately preceding that, the congregation prayed mincha with a shliach tzibur, but there was not yet ten women in the chapel. Darkhei Noam does not seem to be tied down to the common definition of Partnership Minyan.

    About a month ago, a woman recited chetzi kaddish during Mincha at Darkhei Noam. This seems to be an off-the-cusp one-time occurance.