Kehilat Yedidya, as a pluralistic Orthodox synagogue, has over the years found ways to adapt to the spiritual needs of its members in the framework of Halacha. For example, on Shabbat morning and holidays, there is an early minyan which is not only at a different hour, but also has a different davening style and atmosphere than the later minyan upstairs. On Purim, we have an early family Megillah reading with women's participation and a later quieter reading led by men only. On Yom Kippur there is a parallel women's led Mincha. In all these examples, we have come to realize there does not have to be a "one size fits all" davening and that we can make use of our wonderful building to afford a variety of davening options.

The Proposal:

Way before the current WLKS controversy, I heard dissatisfaction about Friday night at Yedidya which led people to seek other options more to their liking: quicker pace, slower pace, more child friendly, etc. I propose to use WLKS as an opportunity to develop two separate davening options, not only differentiated by who leads Kabbalat Shabbat. For example, the people davening downstairs will expect on any Shabbat, without warning, that a women or a man may lead Kabbalat Shabbat. But in addition, we could decide that this davening will be led at a slower pace with more singing, and perhaps a special role for children every week. On the other hand, the people davening upstairs, besides knowing that only men will lead Kabbalat Shabbat there, could expect a quicker pace of davening, and even an earlier starting time in the summer than downstairs.  In one of the minyanim we could experiment with new melodies or integrating  shephardic traditions. Obviously the possibilities are many and these are only examples. The point is to expand the options available and bring back people to Yedidya who have stopped coming Friday night; and to combine WLKS with a broader effort to renew our Friday night davening.

The exact "flavor" of each minyan should be determined only after a survey of the members to ask what additional aspects of the davening they would like to see incorporated in each minyan.

It is not clear that there are enough people to sustain two minyanim every week at Yedidya. That will need to be tested but it is important to give at least several months to see if a following can be developed for each of the services, and to allow each to evolve to reflect the needs of the people attending.


Marc Render