Minority Minhagim (Elul and High Holiday)

Rav Schwab ZtL used to say that since we are in the minority vis a vis other communities, we tend to assimilate to their minhagim.

Recently I encountered a few circumstances in which our minhagim have escaped recognition.

  1. An article in a Queens, NY paper mentioned blowing shofar twice a day in Elul as an obsolete minhag – or ” not minhag Ashkenaz”. A friend of mine quickly penned a response informing the writer of the continued practice of this minhag.
  2. My son’s rebbe mentioned in passing that he is not aware of any shul today that blows only ten shofar blasts during the chazan’s repetition of shemoneh esrei. I sent word with my son that this is still in practice among German Jews. (We have written about this in two other posts.)
  3.  I am an avel this year for my father ( hareini kaparas mishkavo). The gabai of an otherwise organized shul was offering me the amud several times during the week of selichos and I deferred to the person who was chazan for selichos (also an avel, incidentally). The gabai was in disbelief and I tried to tell him that this is normative practice per the Rema. I stopped deferring after I deferred and a different avel -not the selichos chazan- was awarded the amud… (In KAJ the selichos chazan has the amud for all tefillos as mentioned in the Rema -and discussed elsewhere in this blog- even above one observing a yahrzeit!)


Some of these minhagim are falling out of cognizance even though they are well documented in halacha. The reason being -in my opinion- that there is so much uniformity among shuls, with standard American Ashkenaz and Sefard basically summing up the full spectrum of choices- that all minhagim have dissvolved into those printed in the Artscroll instructions.

Incidentally, the article linked above mentions the shofar in Elul as belonging to shacharis and Maariv. An alternate opinion has it by mincha. That is the practice in KAJ with three tashrat blown.

In the Luach of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz in Bnei Brak it states that the shofar is blown at Maariv. And so it is practiced in Munk’s shul in London with the following qualifier as I received in an email:

“In Munks at the end of Maariv they blow during Elul, but only at the earlier Mincha and Maariv davening. At the later “Maariv Bizmano” they don’t blow at all.”

Gmar Tov to all.

Minority Minhagim (Elul and High Holiday)

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