I will be thinking of and missing Alan Mintz z”l at Minhah (afternoon prayer) this Shabbat. Alan loved the Ashkenazi musical form of this prayer.
Those familiar with this ritual know how understated it is. There is nothing flamboyant, no opportunity to show off. It is a very precise musical form that perfectly fits the understated, terse, exquisite choice of words of the prayer text. It is a form that invites participation. The congregation usually joins in the first cadenza, often unconsciously as the music draws this expression from them. It is a peaceful, reflective prayer, with a quiet element of melancholy anticipating the departure of Queen Sabbath.
Those who knew Alan can recognize his image in this prayer that he loved to perform. Alan the understated genius, whose precision with thinking and language could hold an audience by the force of sheer intellect. . Alan the inclusivist, embodying “ahavat Yisrael” in his devotion to comminication with all Jews, American and Israeli. Alan the realist who could quietly muster around him an extraordianry group of leaders committed to keeping Judaism vital.
Our generation was blessed to have among us a giant spirit who contributed two lifetime’s of reflection to the Jewish world before his untimely departture. Like every Sabbath, he is gone before we are prepared to say goodbye.