When I was an aveil twenty nine years ago mincha was an hour plus event. I either davened in Ohev Shalom, a 20 minute car ride from my office, or in the Israeli embassy where my friend Eli Rubinstien was the second in command and also an aveil. This time around, I am fortunate that when in town I can take advantage of the mincha minyan at the Washington DC Agudah office located across the street from my office.
The minyan is managed efficiently in all respects. First thing in the morning the volunteer minyan organizer sends out an email to the pool of “regulars” to determine those able to attend. Another email is sent out around the noon hour confirming whether or not there will be a minyan. (Over the last two months I can recall only one day when there were insufficient participants for a minyan.) At the appointed time, participants arrive, daven mincha, say tehillim and then go back to work. I have joked that anyone who sees this small group of Jews gather mysteriously every day, mid-day, for twenty minutes and then disperse must think that we are writing a modern day Protocols of the Elders of Zion!
One would think that an Agudah office minyan would be “charedi”. Not so. The minyan is a cross section of Jews of all types. Its participants include locals and visitors, payus and a ponytail, frum and non-Orthodox, young and old, lawyers, engineers, government workers, a building manager and even a frum cab driver. All come for the sole purpose of davening mincha with a minyan. And then there is me who on most days is the only aveil.