Frequently Asked Questions
The Minyan is self-led and self-governing in most regards. Some of our members are rabbis, but they contribute in a similar fashion to other members. We are pleased to have the TBA clergy participate in our services occasionally, and offer their insights to each bar/bat mitzvah. When the need arises for a rabbinic decision, the Chief Rabbi of Temple Beth Am provides that function.
The simple answer is: only if they wish. Some women feel it’s right for them personally, while others are not yet comfortable with the idea. The head covering is not because of tzniut (modesty) but because of Yir’at Shamayim (reverence for God) as is the case with a kippah for a male. Wrapping oneself in a tallit, if done with spiritual intention, can be a good personal preparation for entering into prayer. These garbs are expected when carrying out a ritual function, like leading prayers or being called to the Torah. If a woman, or a man, receives an aliyah or other honor and does not have a tallit or head covering, there are some to borrow in the hallway, or the gabbai will supply one.
Most everyone started as a new member at some point, so you are not alone. We invite newcomers to introduce themselves during the kabbalat panim portion of announcements. In addition, you can privately ask the gabbai for the week or the Rosh to introduce you to some other members, or just say hello during kiddush. It’s always appropriate to thank the person who gave the drash and ask a question or two. If you would like hospitality for a Shabbat meal, please contact our Open Tent coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will be delighted to make arrangements.
We are happy to celebrate life cycle events with our members. If you are having an upcoming birthday, anniversary, yahrzeit, or other event and would like to cosponsor kiddush, please contact the kiddush coordinator, who will help you with all aspects. Members are also welcome to lead a part of the service or read Torah or Haftarah on the anniversary of a bar or bat mitzvah. For larger life cycle events including bar/bat mitzvah, aufruf, or baby naming, we work with families to enable participation in the services by family and friends (read our online simcha guidelines or talk with our simcha coordinator). These events are most rewarding if the family has been participating with Library Minyan for some time and is familiar with our practices. A Bar/bat mitzvah needs to be planned well in advance with TBA staff. Contact the Rosh or simcha coordinator for more information.
The title is a Hebrew term that communicates the person’s being in a central role without suggesting that she or he wields undue authority or operates in a vacuum. The Rosh serves as a facilitator and representative of the Minyan, and is someone who has served on the Steering Committee and has experience with the give-and-take of Minyan activity and decision making.
As specified in the Charter, the Rosh fulfills several important functions: providing liaison with TBA, convening and running meetings of the Steering Committee, and serving as point-person for members and visitors who raise questions about Minyan policy or practice. Beyond this, the Rosh has to be attentive to how committees and coordinators are functioning and feeling, bringing to the Steering Committee problems that seem to be cropping up and also informally smoothing areas of friction. Naturally, each Rosh will make the job his or her own, with particular emphases and initiatives.
The Charter was adopted in 2012. It is an outgrowth of over 40 years of past activity at the Minyan. Some of the committees outlined in the Charter had already been in existence, others were newly introduced. There are many aspects of living a rich Jewish life beyond just prayer services, and our committees address them. This also gives more opportunities to serve in various ways and become engaged in a deeper, more active, way.
“Serve” means just that, not “lead”. It means to give of oneself in some capacity to other members of the Minyan and/or to the Minyan as an entity. Important as it is to lead or coordinate aspects of services, these represent only the most visible modes of service. Other ways to serve include participating early and often in our services, helping create social or educational activities by joining one or more committees, and attending shiva minyanim.
Any Jew can participate in our services, and non-Jews are welcome to attend. We welcome new arrivals, shul shoppers, and shul hoppers (who may occasionally attend services at multiple places).
“Come, Serve, and Belong” is shorthand for the criteria for being part of the Library Minyan.
Come: because our services depend on participation of members, your attendance adds to our vitality;
Serve: because the Minyan is lay-led for services as well as in its governance and creation of community, it is vital that people serve in the roles that enable services and communal life to thrive; and
Belong: because the Minyan is a constituent unit of Temple Beth Am, it’s important that we pay to be members, so we can maintain the facilities, kiddush, shiva minyanim, clergy support, and other functions that help enrich our community.
We expect members to grow into each of these areas over time. There is no specific level of attendance or volunteering that is required, but the more people put in, the more they get out. Paid membership is required to receive High Holiday tickets. TBA offers a variety of plans.
The Library Minyan web site (libraryminyan.org) includes a tab for our calendar, showing all upcoming services, lectures, social activities, and other special events. On the Home page, you can join our email list to get our monthly newsletter. Also, as a TBA member, you can receive mid-week and Shabbat bulletins by email, which provide times for all services and information on any special activities.
Our members lead services most of the time. We enjoy the diversity of various styles and backgrounds to lead prayers, study sessions, read Torah, and the like. Occasionally one of our TBA clergy members leads a part of the service or gives a drash.
Services start with Mishnah study at 9:20 each Shabbat and Brachot Hashachar at 9:45. Services begin 15 minutes early any day that Hallel is said. Many members arrive part way through the service, with the Torah reading usually starting about 10:45. Services usually end around noon. Then we have a Kiddush.