The conventional rap on the Hashkama Minyan is that it’s a utilitarian minyan for those who want their davening fast and early. Another objection is that the participants are less connected to the Rabbi and the Shul than those who daven at the main minyan. Although these may be valid points, let’s take a closer look.
I was in Lawrence about a year ago and my host davened at the Hashkama Minyan. There were both men and women present. It was a reasonable pace, followed by a generous hot kiddush. After that, there was a 30 minute shiur by one of the prominent Baalei Machshava of the area. It was a fantastic Shabbos morning experience and I would be hard pressed to resist making it my mainstay if I lived in the area.
The Hashkama Minyan in my shul is missing the kiddush and the shiur, but it is structured to overcome some of the potential deficiencies. The davening is a reasonable pace, but time is saved by running the service efficiently. There is a weekly Dvar Torah giving by one of the participants and on occasion by our Rabbi. And due to the efforts of the Gabbai, who was recently honored at our Shul Dinner, there is a sense of community among the mispallim. I daven there about once a month, and I find it a very positive experience.
Like most things in the Jewish Community, Hashkama Minyanim are what you make them. If you throttle the speed, mix in some Torah, and infuse a sense of Tzibbur, the value of the Hashkama Minyan increases greatly.