The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 3 March 2007 / 13 Adar I 5767

How Many Senators Make a Minyan?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Little did Senator Dianne Feinstein (D.-California) realize that her Jewishness would become a matter of debate when it was publicized that the new U.S. Senate had a minyan of Jews in it.

Hilary Leila Krieger wrote a Jerusalem Post article about the 13 Jewish senators and 30 representatives in the new Congress, which she titled "A Minyan in the Senate".

This brought a letter to the editor from Daniel Rubin of Napa, California, who wrote that the senator from his state, Dianne Feinstein, was born to an Episcopalian mother and a Jewish father and therefore cannot be considered Jewish "by most Jews who do not recognize patrilineal descent".

Ms. Krieger's reply was that Feinstein describes herself as Jewish in the official Congressional Guide, and even if she is discounted that leaves 12 male Jewish senators, more than enough for a minyan.

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