There is a phenomenon known as the Kaddish Minyan, the space, where a majority of those who make up the minyan, the community are mourners or recent mourners. There is a sense of shared experience, shared pain, a sense of belonging and welcoming. In a Kaddish Minyan, the mourner, the Kaddish sayer is not alone, they are supported, uplifted by the community, they know others have been there, and understand the importance of the experience.
I go to the Non-Kaddish Minyan. I go to a minyan for people who go for themselves, to pray for themselves, to fulfill an obligation to a greater power. I go to a place where I am the only voice when I say Kaddish, Me, and me alone. Sometimes, the community is so lost in their own place, that they don’t respond to the kaddish. What’s the point of saying Kaddish in a minyan if that minyan doesn’t respond, neither to the words of the Kaddish prayer, nor to the needs of the mourner. In the Non-Kaddish Minyan, no one shares my experience, no one is willing to reach out, acknowledge the toughness of my days. Not to be “ME” centered, but very few people in this minyan are there for me.
My Non-Kaddish Minyan is in a space that is convenient for me, in a place I frequent daily. Perhaps a minyan of convenience isn’t the minyan for a Kaddish Sayer who wants support. This minyan espouses the values of community, but rarely acts on it to support one another through a challenging time. Given a celebration, that’s another story. In this minyan, the focus is on the davening, the praying, doing it right, getting it done, checking it off the mitzvah list, not on supporting one another, helping one another, growing together. What is so hard about this is that in this espoused community, we are growing the future community leaders. Leaders who can’t find 10 minutes on a Sunday evening to support a fellow member of their community. Leaders who are into their davening, but not into their hearts. Leaders who create a “community” of emptiness, of cliques, of alliances, of levels of importance for people. Not, leaders who create a space to help each other mourn and grow, who help one another to become stronger, out of the tragedy and into a triumph.
This is the Non-Kaddish Minyan. Perhaps I’ll say Kaddish alone, in a space where I can live with myself, support myself, grow with myself, and feel included, instead of in the space where I am on the outside, shunned, that girl whose father died… that girl who wanted to teach people.
Perkei Avot reminds us not to separate ourselves from the community, but I wonder, what happens when the community separates themselves from you? What happens when you try to be apart of the community that doesn’t want you, that doesn’t support you, that doesn’t create a space you want to be in, or can be in?
Separate not thyself from the community? This is only possible in a community that recognizes itself as a place to be and grow- this is not the Non-Kaddish Minyan.