Volume 46 Number 41
                    Produced: Fri Dec 31 10:40:04 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

GoDaven (4)
         [Harry Weiss, Perets Mett, "Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.", Gershon
Refusal to Grant Aliyot (4)
         ["Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq.", Yisrael Medad, <chips@...>,
David Charlap]
Synagogue Without Women's Section
         [Aliza Berger]
Taxes and shule dues
         [Carl Singer]
Turning down being asked to daven (3)
         [Joel Rich, Simon Wanderer, <chips@...>]


From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 21:34:22 -0800
Subject: GoDaven

>From: Charles Chi () Halevi <c.halevi@...>
>Anybody have any thoughts on http://www.godaven.com/ ? They bill
>themselves as "The Worldwide Orthodox Minyan Database -- currently
>listing over 2,450 Minyanim, updated daily."

I think it is a great site.  My father was niftar a year and half ago.
My job requires a considerable amount of travel..  I relied on that site
heavily.  ( I still do)

Their times were usually accurate, but always called to verify.

From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 11:35:09 +0000
Subject: GoDaven

I think this is a wonderful enterprise and Dr Yosi Fishkin deserves a
heart shkoyekh for all the time and effort he invests in it. On more
than one occasion, when I have asked a visitor to our shul how he found
out about it, I have been informed that it is due to the shul's listing
on the GoDaven web site. Without the web site, these visitors may well
have had to daven without a minyon or at a time that did not suit them.

Perets Mett

From: "Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq." <khresq@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 00:19:58 -0500
Subject: GoDaven

As for www.godaven.com, I have used it on several occasions, and have
found it to be quite helpful.  But it is ALWAYS a good idea to make
advance contact with the listed contact people, to ascertain that the
info is indeed current (I have run into situations where it wasn't).

Ken Ryesky
E-Mail:  <khresq@...>

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 21:20:57 -0500
Subject: GoDaven

What kind of thoughts?  It's a great site!



From: "Kenneth H. Ryesky, Esq." <khresq@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 00:19:58 -0500
Subject: Refusal to Grant Aliyot

> In the US, such a policy could run amok of laws regarding donations. In
> effect, it could require shul memerships to be taxed because they
> provide tangible benefits."

With the usual caveats to the effect that this is NOT legal advice in
the context of an attorney-client relationship, it is my humble opinion
as a tax attorney, formerly in the employ of the IRS (who is scheduled
to testify at an IRS rulemaking hearing on 11 January), an aliyah is an
"INTANGIBLE religious benefit" within the meaning of Internal Revenue
Code Section 170(f)(8).  In its various pieces of literature, the IRS
describes admission to a religious ceremony as a typical "intangible
religious benefit," because it "generally is not sold in a commercial
transaction outside the donative context."

But this is a discussion for the legal profession listserves.

Ken Ryesky
E-Mail:  <khresq@...>

From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 06:52:02 +0200
Subject: Refusal to Grant Aliyot

and one more thing about Ari Trachtenberg's comment that

            This..reduces the religion to a terribly mercenary level.

See Para. 150 regarding laws of building a synagogue - the minority can
force the majority to pay up.  As mercenary as one can get.

Yisrael Medad

From: <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 21:09:40 -0800
Subject: Re: Refusal to Grant Aliyot

> > A congregant doesn't pay his dues.  The board wants to prohibit him
> > from receiving aliyot.
> This is absolutely terrible and reduces the religion to a terribly
> mercenary level.  Besides my revulsions, I could see several problems
> with this:

Seems like a good idea to me. The shul needs funds to run and if it is
membership based than it seems only correct.

> 1) There are some categories of people for whom an aliya priority is
> halachicly mandated.

The only time I can see this is if the person is the only Kohen/Levi in

> 2) It establishes a terrible precedent/slippery slope.  One could then
> argue that visitors should not get aliyot, people with unfashionable
> political/religious opinions, etc.

What slope? If you are not a member in good standing you don't get
membership benefits.

> 3) In the US, such a policy could run amok of laws regarding
> donations. In effect, it could require shul memerships to be taxed
> because they provide tangible benefits.

Shul memberships are tangible benefits. If you are deducting them as
donations, speak to a qualified tax attorney.

[From a second submission. Mod.]

> unlike some previous comments , this is not a slippery slope.  a
> kehilla is defined by its members.  if someone cant afford, that is
> understandable. if he can afford, he has forfeited his rights.  he is
> essentially a non-member visitor.  the OU or RCA can give you their
> criteria for davening before the amud.  it is spelled out there that
> only non-members who are visiting from out-of-town, or very recent
> immigrants to the city, are entitled to take precedence to the amud.
> someone who lives in town but is not a member of this shul has NO
> preference over a shul member---let him go to where he pays. an aliya
> should be no different. let this man get one in the shul he pays...

To further this point: where I live there is really only one minyan for
maariv, which I attend during the week. I am not a member. When I was in
my year, I was never offered the Amud for maariv (or mincha) even when
no other 'chiyuv' was there.  I was not insulted or angered in the


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 11:48:28 -0500
Subject: Re: Refusal to Grant Aliyot

Tal Benschar wrote:
> I could not disagree more!  A shul costs money: mortgage, electricity,
> heating, air conditioning, maintaining the Sifrei Torah, etc.  The
> halakha is that members of the community can force one another to pay
> the necessary upkeep of a shul.  (If memory serves correctly, part is
> paid per person and part is paid according to one's means.)
> It is one thing for someone who cannot afford dues to be given a break.
> It is quite another for someone who can well afford to pay dues to
> refuse to do so.  Why should that person be permitted to free-load off
> others, who are just as hard working?

This may be all completely true, but heavy-handed tactics (like
demanding money for admission, or publicly snubbing those who don't pay
up) is just as likely to cause the person to go daven somewhere else, or
by himself, or not at all.

And what if he gets so upset at the "money grubbing Jews" that he
bad-mouths the Jewish community at home all the time, convincing his
children to abandon Judaism altogether?  (Yes, this has happened.  I
have personal friends who abandoned Judaism for exactly this reason.)

Word of this kind of behavior also tends to get around to the non-Jewish
community and is sometimes fuel for anti-semites.

While it may be permitted to try and strong-arm congregants into paying,
I think doing so is an extremely bad idea.  We're not living in a place
and time where throwing someone out of the community is likely to make
him change his ways and return.  You may temporarily preserve the
financial situation of the shul, but you are also causing uncalculable
damage to Judaism itself.

-- David


From: Aliza Berger <alizadov@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 18:28:38 +0200
Subject: Synagogue Without Women's Section

Jerusalem's central bus station was built just a few years ago. It has a
shopping mall, a food court, a synagogue and even a rabbi. However, the
shul is missing a women's section. When I asked the rabbi about this he
gave me various excuses. You can read more about this subject, including
a letter by Rabbi Jonathan Chipman and my exchange with the bus station
rabbi, in Rahel Jaskow's blog http://elmsintheyard.blogspot.com/,
Dec. 22 and Dec. 30. Rahel writes, in part: "Recently a letter was sent
to the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, after Amnon
Ben-Ammi, the director-general of Merkazit [Central Bus Station]
Yerushalayim, received a request to establish a women's section in the
shopping center. The rabbi of the Central Bus Station, Menahem Mendel
Wilhelm, passed the letter on to the Chief Rabbi.  The reply he received
from Rabbi Rafael Dayan, the Chief Rabbi's assistant, stated that in
Rabbi Bakshi-Doron's opinion, 'It is proper to establish a women's
section in the Central Bus Station in order to enable women who wish to
pray to do so in an appropriate area, to answer Kaddish and Kedushah
[prayers which can only be recited in a quorum of ten men and not by
individuals, male or female], to listen to the Torah reading and pray
with the community.' "

I am curious whether people on mail-jewish find any halakhic
justification to the arguments the rabbi made to me (see the blog). Note
that he made these comments *after* hearing the Chief Rabbi's opinion.

Any ideas what can be done from the grassroots about this situation,
send me privately, since this is not strictly speaking a halakhic topic.


Aliza Berger-Cooper, PhD
English Editing: editing-proofreading.com
Statistics Consulting: statistics-help.com


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 07:41:20 -0500
Subject: Taxes and shule dues

I strongly doubt that requiring one to be a member in good standing of a
charitable organization and discriminating against those who are not in
good standing would as a matter of practice void the charitable status
of donations to that organization.

I.e. if a shule doesn't treat someone who's a deadbeat (i.e. can afford
to pay but refuses to) as well as it treats someone who makes an effort
to pay dues -- that it's going to loose its charitable standing and then
dues will no longer be tax deductible.

(Perhaps a tax lawyer would like to post here.) [See above. Mod.]

To stretch this point if I'm at a shule that asks for a donation when I
get an Aliyah is my donation no longer tax deductible -- am I paying for
the aliyah -- something of great value.

It still irks me that my school tuition isn't structured in such a
manner that a larger portion of it is legally deductible (in the U.S.)
-- again the simple model.  There are 100 children in school and tuition
is ten dollars.  The school, it turns out, is getting only $600 in
tuition revenue because many children are on full or partial
scholarship.  Simplistically, is a child who pays $10 actually paying $6
tuition and $4 (tax deductible) scholarship?  The standard argument is
that if the school charged only $6 tuition and requested a $4
scholarship donation that no one would pay the $4.

Similarly, there are Christian oriented vehicles through which one can
donate stock and then have the resultant cash go to multiple charities
-- (i.e. donate a share of stock worth $100 -- in essence "bank it" --
and then write $18 checks to several tzedukahs from that account.)  I've
yet to find a similar Jewish vehicle.

Carl Singer


From: <Joelirich@...> (Joel Rich)
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 03:18:59 EST
Subject: Turning down being asked to daven

<< From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
 Joel Rich writes:
 > ...in contradistinction to being asked to daven for the amud where you
 > should turn it down twice...

 Where is this "rule" from? Is it really better to make a gabbai's life
 tougher because of misplaced "modesty?"

See S"A O"C  53:16

Joel Rich

From: Simon Wanderer <simon.wanderer@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 15:13:50 -0000
Subject: Turning down being asked to daven

Sorry to be guilty of something that really annoys me- quoting without
useful sources, but 2 brief points:

1- the idea of initial reluctance is, I believe, mentioned in the Gemara
(Brochos IIRC) and accepted as Halacha.

2- I was once shown an interesting Halacha (in a reliable source,
probably Mishna B'rura) by a thitherto irritated Gabai. The requirement
to decline at first does not apply when the request to take the Amud
issues from the Gabai (as opposed to whom? good question, I'm not sure,
but certainly - at least - as opposed to general urging from 'the Olam'
at an ad hoc Minyan. I do not know how to accurately define at what
point one is or is not considered a Gabai).

From: <chips@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 21:33:37 -0800
Subject: Re: Turning down being asked to daven

> > ...in contradistinction to being asked to daven for the amud where
> > you should turn it down twice...
> Where is this "rule" from? Is it really better to make a gabbai's life
> tougher because of misplaced "modesty?"

The Shulchan Aruch (or at least the Mishna Berura) .
I've learned from shul Rabbi's it does not apply when there is a lack of
able people, and it does not apply if the shul Rabbi requests one to
daven for the amud.


End of Volume 46 Issue 41