Has anyone heard of the minhag to say Aleinu only until "Al ken Nekave Lach" (only the 1st paragraph) if one is not praying in a synagogue? I've been told a number of times about this practice in Sephardic congregations and always found it strange.

Does anyone know any source for this minhag?

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    I was once told to say only the 1st paragraph of Aleinu at the end of Kiddush Levana? Any connection? – Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 19 '15 at 19:20
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    Very possible as I assume you recited kiddush Levana outside a synagogue. Same idea i presume. – El Shteiger Jan 19 '15 at 19:22

Never heard of it. However, I occasionally tag along with a friend who goes to a Dutch-Portuguese Shul in Jerusalem and as I recall, the custom there is to only say the first paragraph of Aleinu.

The rabbi of the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue in London, R. Shem Tob Gaguine, writes in his Keter Shem Tob (vol. 1 p. 103) that such is the custom in London-Amsterdam (SPS). He suggests that perhaps they omit that section not to burden the congregation.

Rabbi Dr. David de Sola Pool notes (his Prayer Book (p. 104-5) that “some” add the section “ועל כן”, further indicating that it was not the Spanish-Portuguese custom.

From Wikipedia (this might help explain the different customs in general):

In the Middle Ages the custom grew up of reciting the first paragraph every day, at the end either of the morning service alone or of all the prayer services for the day. In the 16th century the kabbalist Hayim Vital, recording the opinions of Isaac Luria, ruled that both paragraphs should be included in all services, and should end with the verse "on that day the Lord shall be one and His Name one". This has been accepted in almost all communities except for the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, who retain the "short Alenu".[10] The custom according to some North African prayer books is to recite the second paragraph only at the conclusion of weekday morning services.

I recall being told the same thing about kiddush levana, but was explained as follows:

The reason we recite Aleinu after Kiddush Levana is because we want to dispel any notion that we were praying to the moon. For that purpose, the first paragraph alone suffices.

  • Ironically, others hold that Kaddish can't be said after just the first paragraph, but only after both (to have said multiple verses) – Double AA Dec 6 at 17:13

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