Brooklyn, NY - Dial-in Phone System Offers Live Hookups To Daily Minyanim
Brooklyn, NY - A Williamsburg rabbi has launched a telephone hookup that gives those who are bedridden, homebound, elderly or far from a shul the opportunity to daven with a live minyan three times a day.
LiveJewishPrayer.com is the brainchild of Williamsburg resident Rabbi Pinchas Gold. As part of the Satmar Bikur Cholim, Rabbi Gold was a frequent visitor to area hospitals, delivering meals to patients who would frequently ask that he remember them in his davening.
“It is beautiful that we are giving people food for their bodies but we decided to provide food for their souls as well,” Rabbi Gold told VIN. “Every person has their own definition of how they want to pray to Hashem. Why not give them the opportunity to do it on their own?”
A team of software developers spent two years creating what Rabbi Gold described as “the largest digital synagogue in the world.” The telephone hookup is linked to three daily minyanim at Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, with Shachris currently at 10 AM, Mincha at 3:15 PM and Maariv at 6:45 PM.
The project is under the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Gold’s brother, the Lubliner Rav, Rabbi Mendl Elimelech Gold, and was funded by Yisroel Leibowitz, executive director of Ahava Medical Rehabilitation and Urgent Care Medical Centers.
“I am involved in a lot of homes and had been asked by a lot of people to help them out,” said Leibowitz. “People were feeling very lonely and were never able to daven with a minyan.”
The telephone hookup, which can be reached at 212-493-3636, can support 40,000 calls simultaneously. Rabbi Gold estimated that the digital minyanim have been accessed 20,000 times since the system went live this past October.
Leibowitz said that he has received considerable positive feedback from those who have taken advantage of the telephone minyan hookup.
“People told me that the day was just too long for them, but now that they can daven with a minyan three times a day if feels much shorter to them,” said Leibowitz.
Calls have come in to the system from hospitals across the East Coast and the Mayo Clinic, according to Rabbi Gold. Baalei teshuva who have no access to a shul have also been dialing in and telling Rabbi Gold that the davening hookups have become part of their daily routine. Holocaust survivors who are fiercely determined to get to shul under any circumstances are another demographic that Rabbi Gold hopes will make use of the system.
“My own father is 90 and went through Auschwitz,” said Rabbi Gold. “For people like him, who were deprived of the opportunity to daven, davening is an extremely important part of their lives.”
In addition to the spiritual component of davening, Rabbi Gold noted that his telephone hookup also offers additional benefits, giving those who may be isolated in a remote location or a hospital bed a much needed sense of belonging.
“Not only can people daven with a minyan when they are isolated, they can feel like they are part of a social community,” said Rabbi Gold. “They are singing; they are davening. They are never alone and that is the power of this davening line.”
The minyan hotline features a weekly shiur and a new nightly telephone mishnayos shiur kicked off this week at a different number, with a live conference format that gives callers the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the subject matter. Currently all shiurim are in Yiddish and are given by the Lubliner Rav.
VIN News reached out to several rabbonim to discuss the halachic ramifications of davening with a digital minyan but none were available to comment at the time of publication.
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