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Granted, I am not always at shul, and I don't know if I could even recognize HaGomel if it were being said. (The women's section of truly frum shuls often has no clue what is going on in the main service, mainly by virtue of architecture.) So I certainly could have missed something. That said, I don't recall ever having heard HaGomel made in shul, and certainly never by a woman--even though both men and women take transoceanic flights all the time (probably enough that a regular shul should have a HaGomel every week) and a significant number of authorities say that both men and women should bentch Gomel by a minyan.

What's happening? Do people not bentch Gomel when they should? Why not? Why don't they ask for HaGomels at every Torah reading, like they do with Mi Sheibeirach?

  • Sounds like a very local issue. In my shul both men and women bentch hagomel. Could you provide more info about the type of shul and archetypical instances that should have been gomel-bentcht, the person was knowledgable, yet didn't bentch? – RonP Oct 27 '16 at 8:05
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    Do you daven with the minyan on Mondays and Thursdays? People coming back from israel often take late night Saturday flights and can bentch Monday morning. There is also this question judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8472/… – rosends Oct 27 '16 at 10:36
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    Not everyone requires hagomel after transoceanic flights. – Double AA Oct 27 '16 at 11:27
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In my experience, people tend to say HaGomel in a quieter voice than just about anything else that the public is supposed to hear. I'm in the men's section and often can't make out what the person is saying, and sometimes can't even hear him at all. In such cases the tip off that it's HaGomel is the response of those who are closer to him and can hear it. So just because you don't hear it doesn't mean it's not happening!

(As for the reason, I think that because it's a brocha that people don't say often and are therefore unfamiliar with, they're nervous about getting it right in front of the whole shul, so their voices get quieter. They often stammer through it in a halting, nervous manner.)

In addition, as @DoubleAA pointed out in the comments, not everyone agrees that someone is required to make this brocha after a transoceanic flight.

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Without knowing the demographics of your shul, I can only offer these possibilities:

  • Hagomel is usually said following someone having an aliyah to the Torah. Thus, if someone does not get the aliyah, he may not be saying Hagomel, though, he should .. (next point)
  • The aliyah is not a requirement, and it can be said by the person even after someone else's aliyah.

The above 2 make a general assumption in Orthodox shuls (which I gather is what you attend, given your description of being in the women's section) that men are receiving the aliyah, or Hagomel is made by a man in the men's section. This would explain why you aren't hearing women make the bracha, although, technically, they could from the women's section and everyone in shul could respond. Perhaps, shul minhag or protocol isn't allowing this.

Another factor could be that people who SHOULD say Hagomel perhaps don't know when it should be said. I think most realize that they should say it after returning from the hospital / surgery or major illness. But, maybe they don't know that a transatlantic flight also qualifies them to say it, according to some opinions. There are others who feel that a flight doesn't necessitate the bracha.

So, that pretty much may leave just those who are recovering from illness or were released from prison. Perhaps, you have a healthy congregation and no ex-convicts?

As one of the comments mentioned, perhaps many of these people are saying it on a weekday when you might not be in shul?

Or, the simplest reason - no one in your shul has experienced anything at all requiring them to say Hagomel.

  • "maybe they don't know that a transatlantic flight also qualifies them to say it." Not everyone agrees to this. – Double AA Oct 27 '16 at 15:16
  • "The aliyah is not a requirement, and it can be said by the person even after someone else's aliyah." or any time ten men are around, AFAIK – msh210 Oct 27 '16 at 15:22
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    @msh210 Sounds correct. However, I have never heard Hagomel said outside of Torah reading. I'm not sure if that's a requirement, though. If it isn't, I wonder why that's the only time people do it in most places? – DanF Oct 27 '16 at 15:24
  • @msh210 Ideally 12 (two of whom are rabbis) – Double AA Oct 27 '16 at 16:59

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