Stories From The Minyan

ChapelThe beating heart of CBS is our minyan.

We are the only synagogue in the Bay Area with a twice-daily, egalitarian minyan, one in which women and men play equal roles. Morning and evening, we join as one in the intimate Gronowski Family Chapel and carry on our rich tradition of communal worship.

We come together to daven (pray) for personal and collective edification, but also because it's important to us that we are there for every person who wants to pray or mourn, recite Kaddish, or recall the anniversary of a loved one’s passing with communal support.

Ours in a large community, however, and many CBS congregants have not participated in morning or evening minyan services. As a result, not everyone knows how special an experience it is. With that in mind, we’d like to share two minyan vignettes with you.

If you appreciate the anecdotes below, please consider joining us for minyan -- and, one day, you'll have some of your own stories to share with the community!

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It’s a custom in our minyan to invite those observing a yahrzeit (anniversary of a significant death in the family) to say something about their loved one. When people share, it’s always a moving experience.

An indelible yahrzeit occurred a few years ago. A woman stood and spoke of her mother:

She was in Auschwitz. From that experience, she learned hope. And she gave that hope to us.

With just a few words, this bereaved woman passed on the hope she described to all of us who were there with her - and now, we hope, to you. It seemed oxymoronic to place the words “Auschwitz” and “hope” in the same sentence. It was a gift to receive this departed mother’s phoenix spirit.

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His hands and shoulders shook with tremors. Still, this elderly, former Refusenik came to Beth Sholom’s minyan to say Kaddish for his wife, now gone 27 years. Rabbi Pam Frydman Baugh put her hand on his shoulder, closed her eyes, and soulfully chanted the El molei rachamin. Grief poured out of the man as the tune wound its way through his soul and reached ours. His mouth trembled with tears as the love he shared with his wife came to the surface.

To be witness to the innermost feelings of others is a special privilege and honor. Our lives are enriched when we feel the power of such a love connection. The minyan in Beth Sholom’s chapel is an intimate experience, both literally and figuratively -- intimate in size and intimate in terms of the personal connections between the people and our different stories.

After the El molei, we moved towards this man. We took his hand in ours. We looked him in the eye. We extended our compassion for his loss.

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You'll find details about our morning and evening minyan times on our services page. If you haven't come before, we invite you to join us! If you're an infrequent minyan participant, we look forward to seeing you again!

In the meantime, we welcome minyan stories from those of you who have participated in the CBS minyan, however infrequently. Please email Judy Einzig (or call her at 415.487.4622). You can either tell her about your experience and she’ll write it up, or you can write it up yourself and send it to her. Thank you!

Image credit: 1) photo of the Gronowski Family Chapel, where our morning and evening minyanim occur; 2) a scene from a recent morning minyan (on a Thursday, one of two weekdays that Torah is read)