Are Independent Minyans bad for the Jews?

Are Independent Minyans bad for the Jews? We think the trend towards ad hoc voluntary prayer groups -- called Indie Minyans -- is good for Judaism, enabling more choices, more competition and greater spirituality, and at less cost to financially strapped young people.

However if you are a rabbi or a cantor looking for a job, you should conclude that Indie Minyans are not a good thing for you.

Ben Dreyfus does not address this point directly in his otherwise perceptive op-ed on the subject in the Forward, "The Bum Rap Against Independent Minyanim".
Recent months have seen a wave of opinion pieces and statements — in these pages and elsewhere — that have been critical of independent minyanim. Minyanim are portrayed as too independent and not independent enough, and their participants are painted as both selfish ingrates who take from the community without giving anything back and energetic super-Jews who would automatically revitalize any synagogue they joined if only they were willing to set foot in one.

Let’s set the record straight.

“Independent” means that these minyanim are not affiliated with any of the Jewish denominations or with institutions such as synagogues. That is all...Read more...
That is not all. Indies as a rule have no professional employees: no rabbi, no chazan, no shamash... all told, this means lower costs for synagogue services and fewer jobs for synagogue professionals.

1 comment:

BZ said...

Independent minyanim only result in less dues money paid to synagogues (and therefore less money available to hire rabbis and cantors) if
1) minyan participants don't belong to synagogues, and
2) minyan participants would belong to synagogues if the minyan didn't exist.

#1 is indeed true about many (but not all) minyan participants, but as the article discusses, #2 cannot be assumed. And even if there are some people for whom #1 and #2 are both true, this number is tiny (and would still be tiny if it included ALL independent minyan participants) compared to the total number of American Jews who don't belong to synagogues. Therefore, the economic impact of independent minyanim is negligible.