Synago is an online minyan scheduler for Jewish communities, which operates through a collection of software services, which minimizes your needed effort to ensure your community a daily minyan.
A minyan is a quorum of ten men over the age 13 required for traditional Jewish public worship.
If a minyan is not achieved, certain parts of a synagogue service is not possible, such as Torah reading, saying of Kaddish, repetition of the Amidah, and so forth. These are elements that are of high importance to members of a jewish community, and therefore an essential part of Jewish life.
In smaller Jewish communities it is difficult to ensure a minyan every morning, midday and evening every day. Many congregations around the world have limited themselves to only get together on Shabbat or perhaps even on holidays due to low attendance.
There can be many root reasons behind this, but the key problem is often lack of organization and planning of attendance. Today most people live busy lives where last minute, unpredictable events prevent them to attend services as often as they would like.
A synagogue service without a minyan is not a pleasant experience. Many people decide to pray at home or not pray at all rather than attend a service without a minyan.
Assuming a service will not have a minyan causes attendance levels to drop increasingly and thereby becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Synago works with the notion of commitment, meaning that a Synago user will commit himself to a number of attendance days per week. No need to schedule many days in advance, no need for calendars and other forms of planning. Synago works with one single number where the user gives a ballpark estimate about how many days a week he is able to attend.
Taking this number from all users in the system, Synago builds a plan for the coming week, where the target is to spread out all users across all days of the week, with the aim of guaranteeing minyan each day of the week.
The philosophy behind this process is simple: we believe that simplicity combined with automation can guarantee user commitment.
Imagine you’re member of a small Italian Jewish community. You’ve been trying to help with minyan on a regular basis, but attendance is declining. Synago has been activated at your community for the first time and it needs members to sign up. What happens now?
This is Shmuel.
Shmuel says hi.
Shmuel has been retired for a while, and doesn’t mind waking up early and going to shul to help with minyan. He therefore says he can spare 4 days a week.
Synago now wants Shmuel to attend service the first four days, but since he’s the only person in the system, no minyan is guaranteed yet.
Now meet David.
David doesn’t talk much.
David is a busy electrical engineering student. His days are erratic and unpredictable due to finals, group study and homework, so he can only spare 2 days a week, and he would prefer one of those days to be on fridays, where he does not have class.
Synago now adds David’s wishes to the plan. As David has asked for friday specifically, Synago will try to place him there, since that will not cause any days other days to lose a potential minyan.
Synago adds David’s other available day to sunday, where Shmuel is already attending.
This continues for all members who signs up.
The community consists of all kinds of different people. What unites them is the fact that they disagree about everything.
Synago takes all the members’ preferences and plots their commitments into a calendar for the week, which will look like this:
Synago starts a new week whenever Shabbat ends at the community local time.
In this example, Shabbat ends early in the afternoon as it’s winter time.
Synago then sends text messages to all members who have been assigned to attend the following week.
The message includes things like service times, what days the user is expected to attend and some information about cancellations.
The plan remains alive and flexible during the week.
If a user’s plans change throughout the week, someone cancels or additional user sign up, the schedule will update automatically and assign users to the days which needs them the most, sending text messages to the users affected by the changes.