By Morgan Caplan
For the Mitzpeh
Keva V’Kevana (KVK) Partnership Minyan strives to provide this university’s Jewish community an inclusive prayer opportunity by combining aspects of both the conservative and orthodox minyan.
The group, which meets once a month in Maryland Hillel, promotes maximum participation of females and males within the traditional halakhic framework. Halakhah, is the entire body of Jewish law and tradition comprising the written and oral law. This type of partnership encourages women to lead and participate in the service, while still remaining in the bounds of orthodoxy, board member Daniela Nagar said.
“They saw a need for something that was in between the conservative minyan and the orthodox minyan and offered something that the orthodox minyan would feel comfortable with,” Nagar, a junior government and politics major said. “The whole idea of the minyan is to allow women to participate in ways that are viewed permissible according to orthodox Halakhah.”
Keva V’Kavana comes from the book “The Gates of Prayer: Twelve Talks on Davvenology,” written by Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi. Keva represents tradition and how these values reflect thousands of years of Judaism repetition. Kavana, which means intentional, exemplifies that this minyan is intentional in fulfilling the values of this faith.
Together, Keva and Kavana creates a minyan that infuses religious practice with personal meaning. The minyan’s meaning shows the combination of tradition with the mixture of inclusivity that its members enjoy.
“We aren’t just throwing rules and what previous rabbis have dictated in the halakhah. Everything in KVK is dictated by orthodox halakhah it’s just for women to lead the parts,” Nagar said.
In a standard orthodox service, men perform all of the parts of the service, including carrying the Torah and reading the Torah.
“I feel as if women are just watching what is going on and not being a part of it,” Nagar said. “I feel as a female I am sidelined, but I appreciate the opportunity to read Torah, something I never had the reason to do before.”
The KVK, an inclusive minyan, provides women the opportunity to do the normal responsibilities in the service that a man usually takes over, such as carrying the Torah. Women who wish to participate engage in this part of Judaism that, otherwise, is not provided to them. Whether or not a woman could lead the service effectively is not a considered factor in the service, Nagar said.
This minyan, which began in 2013, has bridged the gap between conservative and orthodox minyans. Before on this campus, there was not much discussion between the two sects of Judaism. Those who grew up conservative and are still conservative and those who grew up orthodox and are still observant, have this minyan to pull people and ideas from both forms of minyan, KVK coordinator Eliana Schwartz said.
“KVK provides comfort to its female participants, who are allowed to be very active in the services,” Nagar said. “I like that this group makes both groups feel comfortable in it. It not only encourages women to actively participate, but it maintains the traditional orthodox environment.”