Earlier this week, the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) put out new halakhic guidelines for virtual minyanim during this crisis. Under normal circumstances (may we speedily return to them!), a minyan must be composed of 10 adult Jews in the same physical space. But in our current sha’at hadechak (crisis situation), they have offered a few different options of how to proceed.
After consulting with Rabbi Borodin and the head of our religious practices committee, we will be following a position that will enable us to count a virtual gathering of 10 as a minyan for the purposes of reciting Mourner’s Kaddish and Kaddish D’Rabbanan, but not the other prayers that require a minyan (like barechu, the kedushah, and the Torah service). The addition of Mourner’s Kaddish (and Kaddish D’Rabbanan) to our daily prayer services was actually a relatively late development in Jewish law, and there is more leeway in its requirement of a minyan than the other prayers only recited with a minyan.
Therefore, we will resume our daily minyanim at their usual times (weekdays at 7am, Monday evenings at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 9:30am) on Zoom. Please contact Melani Baker for the Zoom meeting invitation.
Please note that in order to count towards the 10 for a minyan, you must have video enabled (but you’re certainly still welcome to join with just audio if that’s what you can do). Please see below for more detailed guidelines for participating. If you’re interested in reading the full letter from the CJLS, you can do so here (the position we are adopting begins in the seventh paragraph, “a few more of us hold…”).
Congregation Beth Shalom Virtual Minyan Guidelines
- Only those with video on may be counted towards the minyan, though others may participate via just audio. Multiple people can be in the same video screen and all be counted. The key here is that part of being in prayer community together is being able to see each other’s beautiful faces!
- Our virtual gatherings are only minyanim for the purposes of Kaddish D’Rabbanan and Mourner’s Kaddish. We will skip: chatzi kaddish and kaddish shalem, barechu, kedushah, the repetition of the amidah, and Torah service.
-On Monday and Thursday mornings, the leader may choose to read the weekday Torah reading from a siddur or chumash. This should be done without aliyot or blessings. The order of events would be: Tachanun (through the bottom of p. 63)-(optional Torah reading)-Ashrei (p.78).
-In the morning, begin the Amidah aloud and then continue silently after “mechayeh hameitim” at the bottom of p. 36b.
-In the evening, recite the Amidah silently as usual.
- All participants except the leader should remain on mute, but participate normally (singing along, etc.). Participants should unmute for Kaddish D’Rabbanan and Mourner’s Kaddish and recite “Amen” and “Yehei shmei…” aloud.
- If possible, please orient yourself so that you’re facing east towards Jerusalem, and please stand and sit as you normally would.
- Let’s treat each other with compassion- this is a new experience that we’re all embarking on together. Please be patient with each other as we figure out the kinks.
- If you need a weekday siddur, you can download a PDF of it here.
- Please do your best to participate like you would if we were gathering in person! To quote one of my rabbis, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky: “When you participate in our virtual minyan, try to give it your full focus. Put on your tallit and tefillin. (If your ritual garments are in the shul, and you’re not under quarantine, feel free to come by and pick them up during business hours.) For the virtual minyan, don’t look with one eye, while another eye is on the newspaper or another window on your browser. Don’t listen with one ear and have your earbud set to Spotify. It will take extra work to constitute a davvening community in this fashion. But I am hopeful that we will succeed in creating a special experience, and ‘according to the effort, so is the reward.'”