February 26, 2024
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February 26, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I do have to commend Mr. Caplan for one trait he displayed in last week’s letter: bravery (“Minyan Matters,” January 21, 2021). If I blamed my wife for my own lack of shul attendance, I don’t think she’d take it well. In my personal experience, our minyanim are suffering, and it is an issue even people who can’t make it to shul should want to address.

Minyan is a challenge to everyone, and each man or woman may have a valid justification for not attending. Using a public forum (such as this paper) to extrapolate a personal excuse onto an entire generation of peers, however, requires a public counterpoint. There is very little public gain in reinforcing minyan non-attendance for many people who have their own internalized struggles.

I believe I am an equitable partner with my wife. We both work demanding full-time jobs with commutes to New York City. We both take off a shared amount of days for the various doctors’ visits, snow days, sick days and other needs that our children have. We both contribute equally to getting our kids dressed and off to school/day care in the morning. No offense to my father, who is probably reading this, but I change more diapers in a month that he has probably changed in all of his years as a parent of four.

And yet, none of that is proper justification to miss minyan. So I wake up at 5:45 and then get home from minyan before the children have woken. What amazes me more is the young fathers I see that were already in shul since 5:30 for Daf Yomi. Do I still have troubles with minyan? Of course. My Mincha and Maariv attendance is not nearly as good, and I will own that and work on it.

Im Lo Achshav, Amasai? While I hope that some people eventually evolve to joining daily minyanim, we should not be looking to some distant future, procrastinating our commitment to a religious ideal. Extremely anecdotally, most of the people I know who consistently attend minyan watched their fathers do the same while they were in their formative years. Unfortunately, many of the “older generation” start their stronger commitment to shul only once they have to say Kaddish with a minyan for a year—too great a cost to bolster our attendance.

Let’s share stories of success instead of excuses for failure. I hope that we, as a generation, can let our parents see us fulfilling the commitment to minyan, despite all of our challenges, in their lifetimes. The reward we should receive for this effort is to raise children we can observe taking our commitments to the next level, progressing toward a more ultimate commitment to the entirety of Jewish faith and religious obligation.

Chaim Pinsker
Hillside
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