At my university our minyan davens nusach Ashkenaz. Recently some have expressed the desire to allow the shatz to daven nusach Sefard, under the logic that since there are basically no permanent members of the minyan (since we all graduate eventually), maybe we don't have a minhag hamakom. Is that a valid argument?

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    Lucky for you we have an expert in MIT minyan Gabbai Emeritus here on site. [Paging @IsaacMoses...]
    – Double AA
    Oct 29 '13 at 16:44
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    Malper, I'm glad to hear that minyanim are still running at MIT. :) To resolve your particular situation practically, I recommend that you consult the minyan's designated rabbi, possibly using anything you learn here as an input to the conversation.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 29 '13 at 16:46
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    Somewhat related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/7578 and judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30344
    – Fred
    Oct 29 '13 at 17:39
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    See T'shuvos v"Hanhagos (vol. 4, § 29), where R' Shternbuch implies that there should be no restrictions on the sh'liach tzibur in a shtiebel whose attendees represent a hodge-podge of nuscha'os, unlike in a place with a fixed minhag. However, it sounds like the members of this minyan are both relatively fixed (over a given time period) and mostly Ashkenazim. I suspect that, per Isaac Moses' answer below, the minhag of the minyan is sufficiently fixed.
    – Fred
    Oct 30 '13 at 3:17
  • Also, it's worth noting that we say m'ein sheva by Shabbos maariv and no one has objected to that. I don't know how similar the gdarim for that are though.
    – user3318
    Oct 30 '13 at 18:11

The following is admittedly a weak and Aggadic answer. I've got a hammer, and if you squint right at this question, it looks kinda like a nail. I strongly suspect that a better answer could be found in actual Halachic sources.

An essential difference between a community and an individual is that the community is "eternal," while individuals' lives are finite. This comes up, for example, in R' Hirsch's commentary on "Barechu" in his Siddur. He points out that we require a minyan, the smallest unit that can be called a community, to say "Blessed is the Lord, the Blessed One forever and ever," since the Jewish People (as represented by this community) can pledge to keep blessing God forever, while finite individuals cannot.

By that standard, no individual members of any community are permanent, and yet "permanent" communities persist. From the point of view of "eternity," it's hard to tell the difference between four years (or five or six or "oy, I've got to finish this dissertation already!") and 120.

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    Temurah 15b
    – Double AA
    Oct 29 '13 at 20:15
  • @DoubleAA I think R' Hirsch may quote "the community doesn't die" from there. I'll check and edit when I have access to my copy.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 29 '13 at 20:28
  • Isaac, when you were at MIT, did they have a book of minhagim for the community? I know that up Mass. Av. at Harvard, OSM has a binder with printed copies of the minhagim, mainly in occasions where they differ from the trinity of Artscroll/Hirtz/Birnbaum. Aug 18 '15 at 16:53
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt No, we didn't have such a book. Our community was smaller and had many fewer long-term community members. We went on the immediate memories of participants, asking our rabbi (R' Segal in Newton), the Ezras Torah luach, and winging it.
    – Isaac Moses
    Aug 18 '15 at 17:22

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