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Peter G. Engelman

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Publisher:  Terumah Publishing ISBN-10:  0974427705 Type: 


Copyright:  Jul 1 2003

Barnes &
Terumah Publishing
Terumah Publishing House

The Minyanaires is a book about the motivations of a small group of Jews who provide the daily minyan (quorum) required for other Jews to recite Kaddish in memory of a recent personal loss. In interview style, the author queries 19 regulars and 5 members of the clergy as to their beliefs towards God, the Soul, Prayer and Destiny. He delves into universal questions which cross over religious lines, making the book an interesting one for all denominations.

The Minyanaires:

* What is your concept of God?
* What is your concept of the soul?
* Do you believe God hears our prayers?
* Do you believe that prayer can heal?
* Do you believe in a hereafter?
* Do you believe in miracles?

If someone were to ask you these questions, would you be able to answer them? Would you feel comfortable in discussing them? This book is all about those questions and more. The author interviews 19 congregants of the Beth El Congregation as well as five members of its clergy regarding these significant issues.

The “Minyanaires” is about a dedicated group of Jewish individuals who for various reasons feel drawn to the synagogue on a daily basis. Through their attendance, they provide the daily minyan or quorum required for the recitation of the Kaddish prayer.

“Mr. Engelman had not put on his tefillin since his Bar Mitzvah. Now he can’t wait to put them on. He is even leading the service at times in English.” [And now Hebrew]
Phil Jacobs, Editor
The Baltimore Jewish Times, (April 25, 2003)

“Peter Engelman is symbolic of every Jew whose religious growth has been inspired by the daily minyan. His story is that of a person who, in seeking to honor his parents' memories, has given birth to his own spiritual biography.”
Rabbi Mark G. Loeb
Beth El Congregation, Baltimore

One can see from all of the discussion that the questions and answers about our Almighty God are varied and diverse. It is indeed difficult to arrive at any verifiable conclusions in the field of theology. Philosophers and learned men of all ages have attempted to set forth their own axioms, postulates or universal truths about the existence of God and our creation, only to return to the drawing board again and again. There is only one thing certain when it comes to the unknowable and that is that the unknowable is unknowable.
On the other hand, one does not necessarily have to have proof for everything to prove that it exists. We see a door and know that a carpenter created it. We don’t know who the carpenter is, but we know that he exists. If we have no proof of the carpenter who created the door, do we say none existed? No, we believe that the carpenter exists based on our intellect and reasoning and our faith that our senses are accurate barometers of essential truths.
So, the same can be said about the infinite and miraculous creations that abound about us. We may not ever be able to prove conclusively that God has created these wonders, but as with the carpenter, we reason that none of this marvel and beauty would have ever been possible without the existence of our Creator. Again, we trust our intuitions and senses and refer to it as faith.

Professional Reviews

The Minyanaires
One of the greatest mitzvot that synagogue Jews perform is to sustain a daily minyan. By doing so, they provide not only a place for other Jews to find comfort and spiritual fulfillment at times of personal angst and heartache, but they also create the truest feeling of a caring community. The fact is that the regular “Minyanaires” are the heart of every synagogue because they also serve to inspire others to take their Judaism more seriously and to sense the vital importance of every individual who helps to form a minyan.
Peter Engelman is symbolic of every Jew whose religious growth has been inspired by the daily minyan. His story is that of a person who, in seeking to honor his parents' memories, has given birth to his own spiritual biography. As a Rabbi, I am delighted to see that he has tried to articulate through an interview process the many varieties of the same impulse that drew him closer to his heritage. By doing so, he will have shown to others a path worth traveling when they are similarly challenged. Sometimes grief evokes hope and loss draws us nearer to renewal. May that be the result of his efforts.

Rabbi Mark G. Loeb

Beth El Congregation, Baltimore

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