The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, July 09, 2004

Breakaway Minyanim

Velvel posts about his shul and community in Chicago. He and his holy wife Becky, who were once very content, are feeling increasingly unhappy in their current shul (the only Orthodox shul in his community). In particular, he is unhappy with the Shabbos morning davening (that drags on for 3.5 hours) and the general movement of the shul's hashkafa to the far left. He and others have suggested a parallel minyan in the bais medrash but this has been rejected by the board and Rabbi.

Last week a group had a minyan in a private house that attracted about 30 people. This "breakaway minyan" was not at all well received by the members of the shul. Those opposed to the minyan accused the breakers of dividing the community. Velvel counters that the community is already divided, that they would rather daven within the confines of the shul and that by not providing an outlet for another type of minyan, the shul is responsible for the division. He and Becky have decided to move to the main Orthodox community of Chicago where there are many shul choices.

There are halachic guidleines concerning this issue and I will, as always, leave it to Simcha to address them. If I am not mistaken, the general rule is that someone may start a minyan in order to accommodate those who want to daven in a certain way (whether nusach, place of origin, style of davening, even according to trades.).

I am with Velvel on this. While I think his shul is making a mistake in not accommodating a significant group within its membership, that is their prerogative. But, if that is their position, they have no right to then complain about a breakaway minyan.

Breakaway minyanim are usually signs of health in a Jewish community (although they can sometimes be the opposite). The vast majority of shuls in existence today were once breakaway minyanim. People should daven in the places that make them most comfortable serving Hashem.

Why should Velvel's shul stand in the way of a group that wants to daven in a style that is markedly different from its own?


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