TEFILLAH and technology merged last week, after a businessman introduced an innovative way to gather a minyan for afternoon prayers in Melbourne’s CBD.
David Werdiger, who hosts a mincha minyan in his city office, implemented an SMS system whereby a message is sent to a distribution list in the morning.
“Every morning we broadcast a message asking who can make it. Once we get a minyan (10 men over the age of bar mitzvah), we broadcast another message confirming. If we don’t get a minyan in time, we advise people so they can make other arrangements,” Werdiger explained to The AJN.
Werdiger approached a partnering company responsible for developing customised SMS applications and the business was “happy to assist” in turning his idea into reality.
“The original idea was that the system would automatically broadcast a confirmation once 10 yeses had come in. We aren’t there yet, but it requires minimal effort from the coordinator,” he said.
The minyan, called Jews in the CBD or JBD, is currently held in a Collins Street office near the Rialto Towers.
“When we were running the minyan in previous venues, people would be standing there calling or texting friends to see if they could come.
“So I thought it would be much easier if we could automate it,” he said, adding that after just one week of using the new method, people are already giving their suggestions for further ideas.
“People seem to respond to SMS much faster than to emails. Using it for the first week has brought forth some other ideas and enhancements, like a secondary list of people who would respond to a call to be a “tzenter” [Yiddish for 10th one], and other ways to automate the system,” Werdiger said.
“People have been very supportive in suggesting others to add to the distribution list, and ways we can make the minyan more attractive.”
With more than 10 attendees each day last week, Werdiger is now considering extending the minyan further.