Meeting of the Halacha/Minhag Committee, June 14th

The Minhag committee of Yedidya met on Wednesday evening, June 14th. Committee members in attendance were Pinchas, Meesh, Mindy, Aytan and Debbie W., with Debbie Greniman coming as a guest for the first part of the evening. Debbie W. had previously met with Elyssa, who couldn't be present, to get her input on most of the issues that came up for discussion.

Moshe Kranc has indicated that since he is now the new Chairperson of Beit Boyer, he is leaving our committee. (We wish him success.)

The first part of the evening was devoted to a discussion with Debbie G. about changing the nussach of the Mi Sheberach for soldiers. Because we felt she had presented some compelling arguments, it was decided to recommend the introduction of two changes: 1) in the beginning we should say, Mi sheberach  avoteinu v'imoteinu

2) in the middle, we should say "HaKadosh Baruch Hu yishmor v'yatzil et chayaleinu v'chayaloteinu…"

Penina: the only question now is a technical one—can you print out copies of this new nussach before you leave?

Aytan then presented a report on his research into the issue of the Halachic status of photocopied sheets. The bottom line is: the things that require Genizah   are anything with the name of HaShem, as well as pages that have fallen out of old Siddurim or Sifrei Kodesh. On the other hand, Parsha sheets or Xeroxed pages prepared for study do not need Genizah. There are Halachic authorities who strongly urge that they be re-cycled.

The next issue dealt with brought us back to the 4 tefillot generally recited in our community by women. The Goldgraber-Fox family, whose daughter's Bat Mitzvah is coming up very soon, would like to have them read by Dan Kaner, a television and radio announcer who enunciates beautifully. (It was his reading of these prayers at their older daughter's Bat Mitzvah that prompted Debbie W. to suggest that women read them, as a way of involving more of our Sabra women.)

Allowing him to read, of course, opens up the possibility that there may be other families who want a man to read, for other reasons, such as deliberately not involving women. On this issue the committee was divided in its decision. The majority felt that we should explain the complicated nature of the question to the particular family involved, suggest that Kaner read 2 or 3 of the prayers but not all 4, and make it clear to the community that a woman reading them is not an ironclad rule. Still, in most cases, they will be read by women. Meesh volunteered to be in contact with the family. (The minority view—that of Debbie W. –holds that when the family in principle rejects women's reading, our principle should take precedence over theirs, but that if a woman always reads at least one of the prayers, we can, under special circumstances, allow a man to read 2 or 3 of them.)

We then moved on to issues around Sukkot/Simchat Torah. There did not seem to be much enthusiasm among our membership for breaking up the reading of Kohellet, as we had considered. However, we would like to recommend to whoever organizes the reading that instead of having 12 different readers, one for each perek, we should have either 2 or 4 (with balance among men and women) and choose for the task people who read especially quickly. The problem is not felt with regard to the other, shorter Megillot.

Similarly, we are not recommending that Yizkor be changed to another time slot on Simchat Torah. Any time it comes on that day, it will be perceived as calling for a major mood shift. However, we did talk about the issue of Yizkor in general. At least one of the members of Yedidya has complained that we do it in a very quick and perfunctory manner. In Chul, frequently, the rabbi gives a special talk at Yizkor, and it becomes a more significant part of the service. Given that we have fewer days of Chag in Israel, we felt that we can't always implement this. But we can try as an experiment on Yom Kippur, moving the d'var Torah to right before Yizkor and seeing if that helps to give Yizkor a more meaningful position in the service. We will also try on Shevi'i shel Pesach and Shavuot to add a transitional sentence or two, before the Yizkor service. We also recommend adding one more special public prayer for members of Yedidya and their families, but without specifying the names.

Finally, we spent a few minutes discussing the general functioning of our committee. Three sources of dissatisfaction were expressed, by different members: 1) The attendance of the members of the committee sometimes leaves something to be desired, and the meetings are too short to accomplish our goals; 2) The topics we discuss are not always that interesting or weighty; 3) At least one member feels that the Va'ad sometimes refers to us sticky questions that are really not Halachic, but more involved with the internal politics of the community. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to agree that we should continue to meet next year, but try to involve more people, especially now that Moshe has resigned. Among the names raised were Rabbi Bob Carroll and Rabbi Yossi Bloch. We will invite them informally, in order to get to know them better.