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Science at university: Weinstein, Roux and Karnovsky


Minyan Man
Sydney Brenner Scientist
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I had also- I had got a sideline at that stage which allowed me to earn a sixpence a day and that was to be a- what is called a Minyan Man. What happens is that in order to say prayers, you must have ten adults there and of course you reach this adulthood at the age of thirteen. And so when I had undergone my Bar Mitzvah, I was then - because I was one of the poor people in the town - I was offered this job which meant coming every morning to the synagogue - which was actually on the way to the station, so you could just do it on the thing - and being present for people to come and say the Kaddish actually, the prayers for the dead, which they had to do on the anniversary and for which they needed ten people. And- so I spent quite a lot of time also, being the, the tenth man at prayers for the dead and I must say that I now don't go to funerals, it's one of my- I can't explain it but I just seem- I had enough of funerals for about four years of my life, of having to attend them and so on - as a professional mourner essentially - that now I don't go to funerals. I think I won't avoid being able to go to my own one but certainly not as a tenth man. However, so that was a- that paid sixpence a session, so you could earn a little bit more than that.

South African Sydney Brenner (1927-2019) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. His joint discovery of messenger RNA, and, in more recent years, his development of gene cloning, sequencing and manipulation techniques along with his work for the Human Genome Project have led to his standing as a pioneer in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

Listeners: Lewis Wolpert

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology of University College, London. His research interests are in the mechanisms involved in the development of the embryo. He was originally trained as a civil engineer in South Africa but changed to research in cell biology at King's College, London in 1955. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980 and awarded the CBE in 1990. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has presented science on both radio and TV and for five years was Chairman of the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science.



Listen to Lewis Wolpert at Web of Stories



Tags: Minyan Man, Bar Mitzvah, Kaddish, prayers for the dead, funeral, mourner

Duration: 2 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: April-May 1994

Date story went live: 24 January 2008