Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are looking to be more familiar with the service or to possibly help lead a service, there are many learning opportunities through the minyan or through Temple Beth Am. The Minyan assists adult members wishing to learn or improve davening skills or chanting torah, haftarah or one of the megillot. Those wishing to learn are invited to contact the Education Committee Chair, who will act as matchmaker between mentor and mentee.
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 ( who will be delighted to make arrangements.

The Library Minyan web site contains a calendar, of upcoming activities (services, learning opportunities, social activities, and other special events). The Minyan also has a Facebook ( Instagram (@libraryminyan) account.  Every Friday, an email goes out with announcments.  If you would like to sign up to receive that email, you can do so on the Home page. If you are a member of TBA,  you will also receive mid-week and Shabbat bulletins by email, which provide times for all services and information on any special activities.

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.
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.

The Minyan has a governing charter established in 2012 and revised in 2024.  It is available for viewing on the “Governance tab” of “About Us.”

The first part—Come—reflects the Minyan’s philosophy that those who attend the Minyan on a regular basis count as members. Those who attend infrequently are most welcome, but should refrain from voting on Minyan issues.
The second part—Serve—stems from the fact that the Minyan is lay-led. Therefore, all members are expected to give of themselves in one form or another, based on the individual interests and skills of the particular member. Serving can take the form of serving as a coordinator or a rotating Gabbai, leading services, reading Torah or Haftarah, volunteering to serve on a committee, organizing meals for a family sitting shiva or welcoming a new baby, being a greeter or helping in other ways.
The third part—Belong—means that voting membership in the Minyan requires being a paid member of Temple Beth Am. The TBA Executive Director is available to discuss membership levels to fit different financial circumstances.

“Rosh” literally means “head” but has the connotation of “first among equals.”

The same term is used in Jewish camps, which communicates the person’s being in a central role without suggesting that they wield undue authority or operate in a vacuum.

Qualifications for becoming Rosh are: having served on the Steering Committee at any time; having experience with the give and take of Minyan activity and decision making.

As specified in the Charter, the Rosh fulfills several important functions: helping to coordinate the variety of Minyan activities, and ensuring they are properly publicized (along with the Webmaster and Communications Coordinator). The Rosh serves as the point of contact for members and visitors who have questions concerning Minyan policy or practice and directs them to relevant coordinators for assistance. The Rosh ensures that decisions of the Steering Committee are recorded and made available. Beyond this, the Rosh will 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. By definition, each Rosh will make the job his or her own, with particular emphases and initiatives. However, the Charter prevents the Rosh and other Minyan leaders from operating in unilateral fashion or ignoring the communal decision-making process.

The original Charter set out a number of standing committees.  Because many were committees of one, the new Charter changed the named to coordinators (Ritual, Community, Education, Membership, Communications, Finance), who, along with the Rosh, make up the Steering Committee.  The Rosh can also establish ad hoc committees as needed.

That’s easy. You can find out on this web page what each committee does and who the current committee chairs are here. Just approach one or more of them and ask about joining. You will be welcomed!

As a constituent minyan within Temple Beth Am, the Library Minyan is bound by certain decisions of the senior rabbi, as well as other members of the TBA senior staff. Basically, the Minyan governs its own practice through a democratic process, within the guidelines of Jewish law and Temple Beth Am policy. The Charter calls for inquiries on substantial matters to be decided within the Steering Committee, by an Action Committee, or by the Minyan as a whole.

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.
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.
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