The word Mincha literally means present, gift or offering. Normally at Mincha on Yom Kippur you may experience a Torah service, with a reading either about forbidden relationships or about being a holy people (I prefer the latter) and Haftarah Yonah/Jonah, either with a traditional or an experimental presentation, and end with an Amidah. Today … not!
I wrote this SpeakChorus, Marginalization as Opportunity, several years ago. I first workshopped it at Limmud Vancouver in April 2018 and have wanted to share it with my Or Shalom community for a long time. Finally I was bold enough to bring it to Rabbi Hannah. We searched for an appropriate time and venue and settled on Yom Kippur Mincha! Why?
On Yom Kippur at Mincha our focus is on the Prophet Jonah. He is reputed to be the only successful prophet in the Biblical canon, because he managed to effect change. That’s the goal of prophecy. Prophets, Nevi’im, were the Mouth of God, delivering God’s messages or teachings, and exhorting the people to change their ways to create the just society God desired for them … or else! According to the Talmud there were seven women prophets: Sarah, Miriam, Devorah, Hannah (mother of Samuel), Abigail (a wife of King David) and Huldah (from the time of Jeremiah). The age of prophecy is said to have ended with Malachi. But, the age of transformation did not.
Ten speakers and six singers, all from Or Shalom, workshopped, rehearsed, and refined the SpeakChorus under the professional tutelage of director, Jane Heyman. Supplemented by Rabbi Hannah and a respected elder, we were all very proud of what we accomplished and were very moved by the experience. You can enjoy the results of our efforts SpeakChorus here.
The women you will hear from in this performance piece lived in 19th century Eastern European shtetls at a time of great change. They were prophets of their age - they saw the future and were agents of social change.