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Many shuls worldwide run combined weekday Mincha/Maariv services. How long before sunset do these services tend to start? Please specify a range, measured in "number of minutes". Also, please cite your sources, if any.

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It might actually be possible to do a quantitative analysis of this using data from – Isaac Moses Feb 17 '12 at 17:58
@IsaacMoses, great idea. Is there an API? – msh210 Feb 17 '12 at 18:37
This might be interesting sociological information to have, but I don't see how it is constructive from a Jewish Life & Learning perspective. (No downvote from me, though - yet.) Can you clarify what you're trying to get out of this question? – Seth J Feb 17 '12 at 18:55
@SethJ, I can't answer for unforgettableid, but if I were starting up a minyan, I'd be very interested to know the best practices for this scheduling consideration. Each minyan can pick its own scheduling rules by fiat or trial and error, but it would be cool to bring some data to the table. – Isaac Moses Feb 17 '12 at 19:18
@IsaacMoses, that's a fair point, but wouldn't most people starting up a new Minyan have an idea already about what works and what doesn't, and wouldn't it primarily need to be tailored to the local community's patterns of behavior? – Seth J Feb 17 '12 at 19:28

3 Answers 3

In my local Shul they start Mincha at least 10 minutes earlier than that weeks earliest sunset rounded off to the 5 minutes. For example if the earliest weekly sunset is 5:33 they will start all week at 5:20

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Ditto here, but with 15 rather than 10, if I'm not mistaken. But I think IsaacMoses's suggestion (see comment on the question) is best. – msh210 Feb 17 '12 at 18:38
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Isaac Moses, you inspired me. I've now done a Google search for [ mincha | minchah maariv minutes before sunset ]. Based on some of the first ten search results:

  • MIT's Hillel Orthodox minyan, Cambridge, MA: 15 min. before sunset.
  • Anshei Minsk Congregation, Toronto, Canada: 15 min. before sunset.
  • Congregation Beth Hamedrosh, Wynnewood, PA: 20 min. before sunset.
  • Congregation Shaarei Tefila, Los Angeles, CA: 10 min. before sunset.
  • Beth Jacob Congregation, Oakland, CA: 25 min. before sunset during DST.[Source.]

So I conclude that average shuls in North America tend to start their combined weekday mincha/maariv services between 10 and 25 minutes before sunset.

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Yeshiva University's last mincha minyan is 15 minutes before the earlist shkia of the week rounded to the 5 minute mark before. So if the earlist shkia of the week is 7:44, mincha will be at 7:25. When I lived there, most of the synagogues in Highland Park, NJ & Edison had mincha/maariv at 15 minutes before shkia. Likely, some rounded to the nearest five minutes, and some didn't.

If I wanted to go to an unfamiliar shul that I expected to have a minyan somewhat before shkia (as opposed to say a chassidic shul that davens mincha after shkia), I'd aim to arrive 20 or 25 minutes before shkia because I'd rather wait a couple of minutes in most cases than miss the beginning, particularly for mincha.

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