It’s a story that you hear repeatedly. Back in the day if you came 5 minutes after davening started, you couldn’t get a seat in the 400+ main minyan. But now it’s less than half full and the young marrieds minyan is just as big, but they don’t want to daven in the main minyan.
Many of the young marrieds grew up in the main minyan and it didn’t excite them.Now they want a minyan:
– that’s about 2 hours from start to finish
– has a very short or possibly no drasha
– has no misheberachs
– has no announcements (or they’re very short)
– has a kiddush after davening
– is filled with their friends
– is a place where they set the rules
It’s not really an unreasonable request list. And there are many minyanim in the larger community that fill this bill. Unfortunately, when meeting these demands, many Shuls can no longer fill their large main minyanim.
One solution to this is to find a dynamic Rabbi or assistant Rabbi, steeped in Torah knowledge, who understands the trials and tribulation of the younger generation. This Rabbi also has the capacity to pasken, teach, guide or inspire. It’s not an easy find, especially given that many Shuls have serious financial pressures facing them due to the decreasing membership.
Another solution is to create an environment from which the younger generation will want to belong, because of the clear benefits. This can take the form of a Growth Culture Shul.
Another possibility is a new model called a Chesed Culture, where many of the Shul members (not just a selected few) are regularly having others for meals, helping each other with jobs, shidduchim, housing, chinuch issues and the little things like plumbers, electricians, babysitters, etc.
An architectural solution would involved restructuring the Shul to handle a number of smaller minyanim. In many cases this would not be possible due to structural or financial concerns.
Unfortunately it seems that many large Shuls in this situation are working on returning back to the days of yore. I think this is very unlikely and the boards of these Shuls need to address the concerns of the next generation. Looking forward instead of back is the direction in which the next steps need to be made.