Creating a Minyan of Comfort: A New FJMC-Cantors Assembly Initiative

by Dave Mandell

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The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs has developed and implemented many innovative programs over the years. The most recent, Creating a Minyan of Comfort, is a joint effort with the Cantors Assembly. It is designed to teach men and women about the ritual, halachic, and social needs of a shiva minyan, as well as how to lead one. The rituals include chanting the prayers, the flow and mood of the service, and offering concluding thoughts, especially on the last night of the shiva period.

In addition to the laws, just as important is recognizing the needs and comfort levels of both knowledgeable and uninitiated worshippers, as well as utilizing various strategies to be supportive of the mourners and the others in attendance.

Created by Dr. Robert Braitman (a past president of FJMC) and Hazzan Steven Stoehr (past president of the Cantors Assembly), Creating a Minyan of Comfort was successfully piloted in the Midwest Region in November 2014 by the Men’s Clubs of Congregation Beth Shalom, led by Hazzan Stoehr, and of Congregation Beth Judea, led by Hazzan Roger Weisberg. It was also piloted successfully in January 2015 by participants in the Geffen Leadership Development Institute at the Pearlstone Conference Center. The feedback has been very positive.

Delegates to the FJMC biennial convention (July 8-12 at the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach Florida) will have the opportunity to participate in another session of Creating a Minyan of Comfort.

Graduates of the course receive a certificate of completion from FJMC and the Cantors Assembly.

Dave Mandell served as the 2014 LDI Chair. He is a member of the FJMC Executive Committee and a past president of the New Jersey Region.