Shivah Service if No Minyan

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aalper's picture
Shivah Service if No Minyan

I have been leading shiva minyans for quite a few years now. Yesterday, I had a situation that I have not run into before. I went to a fellow congregant's house to lead Ma'ariv. As the time was nearing for the service, there were only seven people. The family was upbeat, they had a large group of people during the day, but the crowds had gone. They did not want to call anyone because the weather was bad. It was too late to make it to the minyan at the synagogue. They expressed an interest in having the service anyway. I explained that we could we could not recite mourner's kaddish, the other kaddishes, and certain other prayers (Barachu), and I could not truly lead the service. Instead, I directed them to the pages we woould be reading individually in Hebrew. I interspersed this with group reading of some of the English paragraphs. We finished with a responsive English reading of Psalm 23.  So, during the service, I more guided them then led it.  What would you have done?

elisson1's picture
Shiva Service if No Minyan

It's unusual that we fall short of a minyan during shiva, but it does happen.

As you do, I explain that certain prayers cannot be recited aloud in the absence of a minyan. However, the remainder of the service can be done, and I lead those parts. When we reach the Mourner's Kaddish, I explain that while it is inappropriate to recite the Kaddish aloud, one can recite it silently to oneself, and we observe a minute of silence to allow that. We also recite Psalm 23 responsively.

The new Siddur Lev Shalem includes some alternative words that may be recited in lieu of Kaddish - it's really quite comforting. I don't have that book at hand as I write this, but it's worth looking for.

B'shalom,Steve Krodman

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