Minyan – for Uncle Sol by
(165 Stories)

Prompted By Finding Your Tribe

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I don’t think of myself as an especially spiritual person, but after the death of my husband’s uncle Sol,  I had a religious experience.

Sol,  who died just short of his 96th birthday,  was a surrogate father of sorts to my husband,  and grandfather to our son,  and a much beloved presence in all our lives.  The night after his funeral we planned to gather at our apartment for shiva to remember him and recite the evening prayer.

Traditionally in Judaism a minyan – a quorum of ten men – is required to recite communal prayer,  so that afternoon I began to call friends and family to join us,  and to ask the men to help form our minyan.

With such short notice some of the men couldn’t make it,  so I made more phone calls.  But as I crossed names off my list and left more messages on answering machines,  I began to worry.  Would we be able to muster ten men at what was now the eleventh hour?   Would we have our minyan?

Sol had been an actor and I thought of the search for a minyan in Paddy Chayefsky’s play,  The Tenth Man.  And I thought of the countless minyans called to prayer over the long arc of our Jewish history.

Then the phone began to ring.  “Count me in.”   “Of course I’ll come..”  “If you need me,  I’ll be there.”

We had our minyan, and that night over lox and bagels,  we toasted Sol with his favorite schnapps.

Then, as ten men stood in our livingroom to recite the evening prayer,  I felt a joyful rush deep in my soul.

Rest in peace, Uncle Sol.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Uncles, Judaism


  1. Marian says:

    I’m so glad your tribe was there for you, Dana. Of course in liberal Judaism, women can be part of a minyan as well. And, if you are in a synagogue and have a Torah, she can be counted as the tenth person. The Torah is female, at least according to Reconstructionists.

    • Thanx Marian!
      Yes thankfully the sexist aspects of Judaism are being mitigated, but at uncle Sol’s shiva we stuck to tradition.

      In my earlier story Retreat (for the Cousins prompt) I wrote about my wonderful experience with my cousin at a Jewish women‘s retreat where we found the tribe of sisterhood!

  2. Suzy says:

    I was going to say the same thing as Marian, that nowadays we consider a minyan to be ten people, not just ten men. But Uncle Sol might have felt differently. I like that you toasted him with his favorite schnapps.

    • Yes, Suzy, you’re right. Sol was traditional although not overly observant, and was affiliated with an Orthodox shul, and in fact his rabbi came to be part of our minyan.
      If we have future prompts about theatre or acting I can say much more about Sol!

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    It’s great that enough men turned out for the minyan for your beloved Uncle Sol. But here’s a thought. What’s wrong with women being counted in a minyan? I guess if your uncle was traditional, that might not have been right for him. I have come to believe that ten people of any (or no) gender would be fine with me.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Moving and lovely that you got your minyan and were able to say Kaddish and raise a glass of scnapps for Uncle Sol. And that it was spiritually fulfilling for you.

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