All-girls minyan most popular

SING: Students gather daily for the girls-only singing minyan. The minyan is the largest attended at school with 59 girls.

Jordan Levine

SING: Students gather daily for the girls-only singing minyan. The minyan is the largest attended at school with 59 girls.

By Noah Rothman, , Torah Editor

The biggest minyan at school this year isn’t the Main Minyan or the Explanatory Minyan or even the popular Hashkama minyan, which starts before school and gives participants a free period before breakfast while the rest of the students pray.

Instead, the most popular minyan this year is the All-Girls Singing Minyan, which combines elements of all the other prayer services, meets during regular davening time, and has no boys.

In the days leading up to the High Holidays, it topped out at 59 girls.

“I like that this minyan is faster, and it feels more united with all girls,” said freshman Kayla Jacobowitz.

It starts like other minyans, with a teacher – in this case, Student Activities Director Raizie Weisman – telling everyone to be quiet.  Then, it heads into Pesukei De’Zimrah, Shacharit and the Amidah, with way more singing along the way than the mixed minyans have, and without stopping for Kaddish, Tachanun or Torah reading.

Leaving out the Torah reading saves time, but singing everything out loud takes longer so on some days the timing almost evens out.

“I just like davening,” said freshman Jessica Dawoody. “I like singing in a nice community.”

Now in its third year, the females-only service – which originally was for seniors only – began allowing all grades last year and this year filled up with many female freshmen.  Like middle school minyans, it’s almost entirely sung out loud.  Senior Adina Weinreb said that might be one reason it’s popular.

“We just sing most of the way through it,” said Adina. “It kind of reminds them of their middle school davening experience, so they’re more used to it. I remember my middle school davening – we’d sing everything out loud and it was more of that type of environment, rather than like a formal minyan.”

Adina said she herself finds the Torah reading distracting, and without it she can focus more in prayer.

“I kind of zone out when they read the Torah,” said Adina.  “I feel like I connect better with davening, so this is better for me.”

Songs that are commonly sung in the minyan are Ashrei, Shema, Veahavta and Aleinu, among others. The girls also say the prayer for the IDF everyday.

“I like the spirit and the songs,” said freshman Tehila Sarir, adding, “I feel like I can’t keep up in the Main Minyan.”

Not everyone is there for positive reasons, however.  Junior Rachel Sentchuk noted that the All Girls Minyan has the same focusing problems as other davening at school

“A lot of girls take advantage and just talk,” said Rachel. “You are supposed to be there to daven. A lot of girls go just to skip Torah reading.”

But attendance is just as high on the non-Torah reading days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Principal Reb Noam Weissman said he understood and wondered whether a minyan like this might also work for boys.

“There is a better value for students liking davening”  with this type of prayer service, said Reb Noam. “If they are getting this experience and want to go to this minyan, that is fine. I would even argue the same for boys.”