R' Feldman: ...The email was authored by a long-time member of the community, a kind and caring soul. He complained about the length of the most recent Friday night service, during which the beginning of L’cho Dodi “sounded like a funeral dirge”. He went on to confess,
Out of desperation, I’m frivolously talking about organizing a parking lot minyan. Don’t worry, it won’t happen. But there’s no reason that mincha, kabballas Shabbos, and maariv should take longer than 45-60 minutes. My problem with Atlanta (and much of the U.S.) has become that there are few shuls where I’m comfortable with davening. The one exception is early minyan. Even weekday mincha-maariv has become a one hour event when a d’var halacha [ed.-short halachic discussion] is added. In [A North Eastern Jewish community], the davening is too fast (30 minutes for morning minyan), but it’s preferable to the long drawn-out services now taking root in most parts of the U.S.
I was hooked. My fingers seemed to have found a mind of their own, and I watched as, suddenly filled with creativity and energy, they formulated this response:
There is a reason this trend you negatively describe is happening: most people like it. That is why we have a huge crowd, in spite of the longer service than you would like (the difference between a longer service and a shorter one is really maximum 20 minutes; is that such a hard thing to tolerate, when you see it works for other people? One of the frustrations I have is that people want to have exactly their preference in length, flavor, and color of yarmulke, otherwise, the davening is wrong, wrong, wrong). When you organize a parking lot minyan—which I know you are not serious about, though you fantasize about it—-you will find that after several weeks, people will feel that you are either in the wrong parking lot, the seats are not soft enough, the lighting is imperfect, you started five minutes too early/late, davening is too slow, too quiet, too public, or too fast, etc. They will also criticize those who use the parking lot for—parking their cars while others are trying to daven. Eventually, you will have a lobby minyan, a parking lot minyan, a social hall minyan, and several living room minyanim. Everyone will be happy with their own little fiefdom, and no one will even know that what they are missing is connection with others, and training in dealing with the needs and the world of the other. They will be totally happy in their alienation and separateness, secure that all their judgments about everything are right, never challenged by anything different than their own fantasy world.Ezzie: I've found myself guilty of similar thoughts as the man behind the original e-mail (and do find it sometimes justified), but R' Feldman's response (which gets better as it goes along) is excellent. Read the whole thing.