2008 Minyan Conference

Mechon Hadar, in conjunction with the Charles R. Bronfman Chair in Jewish Communal Innovation at Brandeis University, and with the support of a grant from the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, conducted a daylong mini-conference on Independent Minyanim and Contemporary Jewish Life. Below you can find audio files of the sessions, as well as some written pieces of the presenters.

9am     Welcome and Introduction

  • Yehuda Kurtzer, Brandeis University/Washington Square Minyan

Opening Plenary - Creation Myths: Reflections of Minyan Founders & Leaders

  • Yair Furstenberg, Hebrew University/Shalom Hartman Institute/Minyan Shivyoni Baka
  • Amanda Milstein, Kol Zimrah
  • Erin Thaler, Atlanta Chevre Minyan


10am     Institutional Frameworks

Tribes, Networks and Cohorts

  • Tobin Belzer, USC
  • Beth Cousens, Hillel International
  • Nicole Samuel, Brandeis University/Cambridge Minyan
  • Respondent: Shawn Landres, Jumpstart

Rabbis, Leadership and Questions of Authority: A Rabbinic Roundtable​

  • Moderator: Elizabeth Kessler Sacks, Mechon Hadar
  • Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Hebrew College
  • Marc Baker, Gann Academy/Washington Square Minyan
  • Yehuda Kurtzer, Brandeis University/Washington Square Minyan
  • Ethan Tucker, Drisha Institute/Mechon Hadar


11:30am     Ideological Frameworks

Minyanim and Jewish Communal Relationships: A Roundtable

  • Moderator: Jon Levisohn, Brandeis University/Yedid Nefesh
  • Suzanne Kling, PEJE/Washington Square Minyan
  • Felicia Herman, Natan
  • Carrie Bornstein, Mayyim Hayyim/Washington Square Minyan
  • Bernie Steinberg, Harvard Hillel/Kennedy School of Government

Minyanim, Halacha, and Modern Orthodoxy

  • Elitzur Bar-Asher, Harvard University/Minyan Urim: "Taking Halakhic Responsibility: A Case-Study"
  • Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Yale University/Minyan Urim: "Women's Involvement in the Halakhic Process"
  • Shira Zeliger, Brandeis University/Minyan Tehillah: "Educating an Orthodox Feminist: Male and Female"
  • Respondent: Jeffrey S. Gurock, Yeshiva University 


1pm     Lunch and Keynote Address

The Groomed and the Bloomed: Varied Paths to Engagement in Independent Minyanim (slides viewable here)

  • ​Presenter: Steven M. Cohen, HUC
  • Moderator: Michelle Shain, Brandeis University


2pm: Program Sessions 3: Leaders and Followers

Independent Minyanim and Havurot: A Dialogue on Precedents and Parallels

  • Moderator: Deborah Skolnick Einhorn, Brandeis University/Washington Square Minyan/Minyan Shaleym
  • Sherry Israel, National Havurah Committee/Newton Centre Minyan
  • Joe Reimer, Brandeis University (read Joe Reimer's address here)
  • Elie Kaunfer, Mechon Hadar

Independent Minyanim and Synagogues: Partnerships and Divergences

  • Moderator: Dan Werlin, Forest Hills Minyan
  • Bill Hamilton, Kehillath Israel
  • Judith Hauptman, JTS/Ohel Ayalah
  • Hayim Herring, STAR: Synagogue Transformation and Renewal/Darchei Noam (MN)
  • Jaime Goldberg, PicoEgal


3:15pm     Closing Plenary

Minyanim and the Contexts of Contemporary Jewish Life​

  • Moderator: Emily Shapiro Katz, Tauber Jewish Studies Program/Mission Minyan
  • Elie Kaunfer, Mechon Hadar
  • Sylvia Barack Fishman, Brandeis University
  • Art Green, Hebrew College
  • Jonathan Sarna, Brandeis University


Read about the conference in the JTA