April 14, 2024
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Stamford Partnership Minyan Strengthens Community Leadership and Engagement

On Friday night, February 10, a group of 40 adults and 20 children gathered together to participate in a partnership minyan at a local home in Stamford. This unprecedented level of participation and engagement from the community attracted an intergenerational crowd, ranging from a few months to 80 years old, from Stamford and neighboring communities.

The Stamford Partnership Minyan, which has met sporadically for the last few years, operates on the principles of shared leadership and collaboration within the boundaries of halacha. The goal of the partnership minyan is to become a place where individuals can come together to pray, learn and socialize. The spirit of inclusivity makes the minyan an inviting and welcoming space for individuals from diverse backgrounds to connect and form meaningful relationships with prayer and one another.

While there is a mechitza, men and women lead different parts of the service based on halacha. The partnership minyan’s halachic guidance is based on the teachings of Rabbi Daniel Sperber, the Milan Roven Professor of Talmudic Studies (emeritus) and former dean of the faculty of Jewish studies, Bar-Ilan University. Rabbi Sperber is the current president of the Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute of Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is widely known as an expert in the history of Jewish customs, Jewish art history, Jewish education and Talmudic studies.

The evening began with a warm welcome and explanation of what a partnership minyan is and what the standards are, followed by a lively Kabbalat Shabbat service. Midway through the service, a dvar Torah was given, focusing on the weekly parsha, Yitro.

This dvar Torah focused on Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, a leader from a different community. Moshe’s father-in-law changed the way in which Moshe led the people. This diversification of leadership was not just a nice thing to do; in Moshe’s case, Yitro’s advice actually enhanced the nation. He advised Moshe to add others to the leadership structure and share the responsibility and burden. That is an underlying theme of the partnership minyan: including everyone in leadership and responsibility.

The service concluded with a beautiful Maariv service led by community member Omer Neumeier.

As a lay-led project, The Stamford Partnership Minyan is an independent gathering that is not connected to a synagogue or organization. Individuals volunteer in various capacities to make a gathering happen: Marketing the event, creating the space, and sharing divrei Torah are a few of the ways people participate in the creation of the minyan. A key goal is making the experience accessible to all, which can be challenging when Friday night services fall during dinner and bedtime for families, as they did this past Friday night. The coordinators tackled this in two ways. Experienced babysitters were hired, and light but substantial food and drinks were provided following the service. A half hour following the conclusion of the service, the entire main floor of the home was still filled with participants meeting new friends and connecting with old friends over creative cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

The Stamford Partnership Minyan will continue to meet monthly, rotating homes and prayer leaders, to serve the community’s needs. All are welcome to join and participate in the next meeting on Friday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please email [email protected].


 

Jessie Katz is a strategic fundraiser and avid community leader. When Jessie isn’t building nonprofits, she spends her time developing inclusive communities and making the world healthier and more sustainable. Jessie lives in Stamford with her husband and four children. She can be reached at [email protected].

Pam Ehrenkranz is a Jewish communal professional who is passionately committed to Orthodox Women’s Leadership, building vibrant and inclusive Jewish communities and programming and fostering new generations of Jewish philanthropists. She lives in Stamford with her husband (also a Jewish communal professional) where they remotely grandparent 11 grandchildren. She can be reached at [email protected].

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