Minyan @ TanenbaumCHAT
One of the Siddurim on the shelf in the TanenbaumCHAT Beit Midrash (Study Hall and Chapel) is the relatively new Magerman Edition of the Koren Ani Tefillah Siddur designed specifically for teenagers. In the Introduction, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks describes prayer as follows: “Prayer matters. It changes the world because it changes us. It is to the soul what exercise is to the body. Like exercise, it is important that we do it daily at set times, and like exercise, it makes us healthier and more highly charged with positive energy. Prayer aligns us with the creative energies that run through the universe, the energies we call life and love, the supreme gifts of God.”
The truth is that our students and staff come to morning minyan for many reasons. Some come because it’s a family tradition. Others because it gets their day started in a meaningful way. Some come to say Kaddish and others because their parents want them to. Regardless of the reason, once they are there, all feel a sense of belonging that makes them come again and again.
TanenbaumCHAT morning minyan starts at 7:30. In the winter months, there is also a daily Mincha towards the end of lunch. There are around 30 students who attend the minyan, most of whom come every day. Most of the attendees at the minyan are boys, but there are a few girls who come regularly. A few parents and many teachers also frequent the minyan and find that it is a wonderful place to Daven.
The minyan is supervised by Rabbi Mandel, Vice Principal, but is actually run completely by students. There are two senior students who serve as Gabbai Rishon and Gabbai Sheni (Solomon Hoffman and Zac Winkler). They assign Shlichei Tzibbur (Prayer Leaders), Torah Readers and all of the other ritual roles that are part of the service. A number of grade nine students rotate for a Junior Gabbaiship position assisting the senior students as well.
On days where there is no Torah reading, there is a rotation of Divrei Torah. Rabbi Gemara, Head of Talmud, provides a short Dvar Torah on the topic of prayer every Tuesday. On Wednesdays, we hear from Judah Levy, a grade 12 student who will be representing Canada at the International Bible Contest in Jerusalem this Spring. Finally, on Fridays, there is a rotation of students who share a Dvar Torah on that week’s Torah portion.
Each day, the minyan is followed by a breakfast provided by the school. Parent volunteers help with the shopping and one of the students, Jacob Samson, has the role of “Gabbai Food” making sure that our cupboards never run bare. Breakfast is not only an opportunity to eat, it also gives the minyan family time to get together, shmooze and catch up with each other before the hectic day begins.
Jacob described the minyan experience as follows:
"I enjoy going to minyan every morning. To daven/pray in a school setting with people like me every morning gives me a great feeling of community. It’s another opportunity to make friends and connect with teachers on a more personal level, especially during the time we have breakfast. The atmosphere at minyan is positively electric every morning, even if some of us are tired or it’s still dark outside. I like to think of minyan as the only ‘class’ I have all 5 schools days in the week."
Whether Davening in a minyan is second nature to you, or if you don’t know which way to hold the siddur, you are welcome to come by the minyan any time to give it a try.