"The Minyan for Shacharit will shortly be departing from platform 1, stopping for the Minyan men at Beit Shemesh and then at Ramle, Lod and Tel Aviv. Passengers should take care when putting on their Tefillin. The service will be followed by a Kiddush in the Buffet Car".
I had heard about the train minyan but today was the first time that I'd experienced it - rather than spending the 20 or so minutes davening at home before heading for my meetings in Tel Aviv, I decided to take my tefillin and tallit along for the ride - a clear advantage of taking the train. As I took my tefillin out of their bag, my neighbour advised me to wait until we hit Beit Shemesh where we'd be joined by enough men to make up a minyan (prayer quorum).
As the train swayed, so did we, caught up in the rhythms of prayer. The rumour that a breakaway minyan was forming in carriage 3 proved to be untrue but as all Jews have to have a place that they won't pray in, it's surely just a matter of time?
Apparently their has been some discussion as to the possibility of arranging for a Sefer Torah to be kept permanently on the train so that the Monday and Thursday minyanim can have Torah reading.
Is the following ad really so far fetched?
Date: Sun, 03 Jul 2005 17:38:45 -0000
From: "IsRail" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: JOBOPPS + 02/03 + Ticket collector / Gabbai
Looking for a train lover with a grasp of Halacha and a knack of avoiding Broigesim. Please send CV stating salary requirements and preferred nusach."
Anyway, we finished davening with a few minutes to spare; once the fast train starts running between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (Ani Ma'amin Be'Emunah Shleima...) the possibility of a minyan will go out of the window as by the time you put on your Tallit you'll be at Arlozorov. I'm not aware of anyone arranging a Bar Mitzva on board but it would be a great PR stunt!
The Minyan Express leaves Jerusalem at 7:09 and passes through Beit Shemesh about 30 minutes later. The Minyan is at the back of the train - there is no women's section but who would bet against an enraged feminist starting up "women of the train"?
Cross-posted to Israelity