Why I'm going to let my kids run around in shul

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  • #592142
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I decided recently that I am going to bring my kids to shul when they ask to come and let them do whatever they want.

    Here is my basic thought:

    I don’t think that you should tell your kids that they may only come if they will sit and daven.

    I am afraid of the message being sent. Being, that it is only worth coming to shul if one will daven the whole time and not play. This message is incorrect and harmful.

    Judaism (and life) is about trying your best. If you can’t do something perfectly, you do it imperfectly.

    Therefore, I will let them come to shul. I will not expect them to sit and daven as I believe that to be an unreasonable expectation. (You’ve all seen the father who thinks his five year old will sit and look at aleph- beis for 2 hours! It’s hard to laugh and cry at the same time, so I usually settle for laughing.)

    Disclaimer: It is not nogeiah me yet. I realize that I may need to modify this shita before implementing it, but I think the idea is correct. Also, I called it a rant since when I say it to my friends, I rant it 🙂

    #824422
    Rosh Cham
    Participant

    Are we talking about in the area of where other people are davning? if so i must disagree with you for many obvious reasons. However, if there is a courtyard that your child can play in without disturbing those who must daven then sure bring your kid.

    #824423
    ckbshl
    Member

    How does the concept of “trying your best” relevant to coming to shul? Try ones best and don’t show up at all! The role of a parent is to reasonably teach their child right and wrong. What is conveyed by bringing a child to shul who can’t appreciate it, is reinforcement of their lack of reverence, and the acceptability to impose that lack on others.

    #824424
    bombmaniac
    Participant

    suppose your kids are sticking their fingers up the noses of teh other mispallelim?

    #824425
    aries2756
    Participant

    popa_bar_abba, sorry to say, I disagree with you. I brought my children to shul and when they started to wiggle around I took them home so my hubby and all the other mispallelim could continue to daven. That is how I was mechanech them. Shul is for davening and not for playing!!!! Children need to be taught to have “respect” for a makom kadosh. They need to be taught that we DON’T talk in shul, it IS NOT appropriate.

    On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I stayed home until my kids could control themselves in shul or I could trust them to be outside without my supervision. It was not a mitzvah for them to come to shul and disturb others from their kavanah in davening and I must say that I was very disturbed and upset by the children who ran around under the windows and in and out of the doors, up and down the aisles and basically disturbed everyone. If parents can’t afford a babysitter then mothers should stay home and daven whatever they can from home. They are obviously not davening appropriately in shul either, so why disturb everyone else’s davening too?

    Of course, if the shul arranges a children’s group, or there is a room for the children with toys and supervision, that is a whole other ball game. Parents can bring children into the shul area for as long as they can sit still, then walk them into the play area. This is a good way to train children to have respect for shul and then when their time is up, they can go play. Many shuls have a no children rule which I don’t feel is right either.

    #824426
    SJSinNYC
    Member

    LOL I like your post 🙂

    I bring the kids to shul and my older son plays downstairs in the playroom for a while. He goes in at the end of Musaf because he can sit quietly until the end. Plus he LOVES singing Adon Olam.

    #824427
    Dr. Pepper
    Participant

    popa_bar_abba-

    Here’s what some friends of mine do; they daven at the 7:00 minyan and then bring their kids to the 9:00 minyan and daven with them. They stay there with them as long as they last and then bring them home.

    My son is too young for that but I do bring him to Maariv sometimes (he can sit still for 20 minutes or so) as he loves saying Shema out loud during davening.

    #824428
    lesschumras
    Participant

    You’ll probably be the same insensitive person who allows their 3 year old to scream and cry throughout a chupa, a dvar Torah, or any event that the baby’s crying is disruptive to others because you don’t want to miss it.

    #824429
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    popa_bar_abba:

    That is a Lubavitch Shita. Just go to a shul where it is expected.

    A “Yeshivish” minyan would not tolerate it.

    #824430
    notsooldguy
    Member

    pba wrote: “Judaism (and life) is about trying your best.” And,

    “I am going to bring my kids to shul when they ask to come and let them do whatever they want.”

    How are these consistent?

    #824431

    when children come to Shul to play, they absorb and learn that a Shul is a place to play. this is quite pashut. they forever remember this lesson and when they grow up they still think of a Shul as a place to play,

    to eat, to drink, to play with your blackberry and your friends, to shmooze about business and sports, (and also to daven).

    #824432
    says who
    Member

    A shul is not a place to play and make noise. If you didn’t learn how to drive a car or plane then don’t drive it. According to you, just drive and try your best?

    #824433
    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Mod-80, if all your child is doing at shul is playing, then yes that may be problematic.

    However, I think shul is more than JUST about davening. Its about community building. Obviously not during services 🙂 But my son can’t sit through all of davening.

    Being part of a Jewish community is extremely important – its often the glue that binds people to Judaism when times get tough. People are there for support, love, help and anything else.

    That’s why my shul has a kiddush every week (usually small unless there is a simcha). It brings everyone together to build relationships within the community.

    But if all your kids do is play and never see the inside of the sanctuary, that is a problem.

    #824434

    there is a sancticty, a Kedushah to the Bais Ha Knesses that derives from the Bais Ha Mikdosh. There are numerous Halachos that dictate proper conduct and AWE.

    This is the way the Jewish People, Avdei Hashem, the kingdom of priests that we truly are, have always conducted themselves.

    Yes the Bais HaKnesses has also been a place for the community to get together and discuss community problems, needs, and to fast in times of need. and for Mitvahs and sometimes the associated Seudas.

    But it NOT a social hall to get to together to shmooze and party. At least not until america, where many have learned the meaning of the Shul from goyish attitudes, subconsciously of course

    #824435
    arc
    Participant

    I disagree with mod. Shul is for davening but I’m not leaving my son at home until he’s 11 and ready to sit 100% of the time. I bring my 6 year old for over a year he davens a little snacks a little and goes out to play a little. My almost 5 year old isnt ready to behave properly for an extended amount of time so I dont bring him to shachris.

    I guess I’m in between the OP and some of the others but I feel like in actuality I’m closer to OP.

    **I dont allow him to disturb in the shul and I dont bring him to the yeshivish minyan because as someone said they wouldnt tolerate it.**

    #824436
    apushatayid
    Participant

    I felt the same as PBA, when I davened in Yeshiva and there were no kids running around. Then i got married and lived too far to walk tot he yeshiva in inclement weather and started davening in shuls with kids running around and creating a racket. Now, I am a firm believer in “shul is not a babysitting service”. If they create a disturbance, leave them home (I wish I could tell this to some women regarding their husbands!).

    #824437

    everyone has very good points.

    oy we are truly entrenched in Golus.

    #824438
    yechezkel89
    Member

    popa: by allowing your kids to play in shul is sending them a terrible message. a shul is called a mikdash miat for a reason and correct me if i’m wrong but i am pretty sure allowing kids to play isn’t what chazal had in mind.

    #824439
    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Mod-80, I think in the sanctuary itself there should be no talking/socializing.

    We have an area in the basement specifically designed for kiddushim and youth rooms.

    We are also looking into starting a youth minyan (Bar mitzvah age+). THey are very popular with young teenagers and help them get truly involved in being part of a minyan.

    #824440

    SJ, I agree with you

    as far as the youth minyon, i know a lot of people are against them, i am not familiar with the two sides, but you might possibly want to start a thread on that, should be pretty argumentative.

    #824441
    SJSinNYC
    Member

    I didn’t know people were against them. Will do!

    #824442
    Dr. Pepper
    Participant

    In my shul they tried it but it created too much controversy so it was discontinued. I generally stay out of shul politics so I don’t know what the issues were.

    #824443
    arc
    Participant

    To me chinuch for a child starts from when they understand even if they dont full get it and arent completely ready.

    I dress my kids in costumes on purim, I make them keep shabbos and I take them too shul all as part of chinuch.

    The above was too yechezkel and like minded people but I do believe elu v’elu and he’s not wrong.

    #824444
    ZosHaTorah
    Participant

    Greater than my ability (or inability) to daven in a minyan every day, is my wife’s strength to stay home with our kids until they are old enough to daven in shul with proper derech. I have unending admiration and respect for my wife – for what is essentially a sacrifice she makes (not davening in shul when I know she would like to) for the greater benefit of the family.

    #824446
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    OK.

    Firstly, for purposes of this discussion I will factor out the issue of disturbing other people.

    Perhaps I should re-clarify.

    While certainly the truth, I do not want to teach my kids that a shul is a mikdash miat and only for davening. I do not think that makes me a kofer as I will explain. (and if you quote just the above line, I will hunt you down and disturb your kids during davening.)

    What is ideal changes based on the circumstances. Children are not equipped to only daven in shul. I contend that if one comes to shul and davens to one’s ability, that is a good thing to do. I want to teach my kids to do what is right to the best of their abilities.

    I do not want to teach them that if they cannot do it in the best way that it is not worth doing. I do not want to teach them that if they cannot daven the whole time it is not worth coming to shul.

    #824447
    Sister Bear
    Member

    Please be considerate of all the other people davening. Maybe just bring your son for a little bit. It’s really annoying when you’re trying to daven and there are kids running all around. Plus you could barely hear the chazzan.

    #824448
    oomis
    Participant

    Poppa, while I understand and can even appreciate your thought process, you are holding that process at the expense of other mispallelim who cannot concentrate while kids are running around during the time that they cannot reasonably sit and daven. I think it is wonderful to expose kids to shul, but not on the plaitzes of other people.

    I stayed home for several years until my youngest child was old enough to go to Shabbos davening groups. There was many a great drasha that I missed, not to mention my father O”H davening for the omud before he was niftar, when my parents spent a Shabbos or Yom tov with us. Disruptive kids do not belong in Shul, no matter how much you would like it to be a good idea for chinuch. Unless someone is there to remove them the second they become “squirmy,” it is not derech eretzdig to everyone else OR to kovod Harav and more important, Kovod haTorah.

    #824449
    says who
    Member

    It’s not black & white, in some cases do something and try your best, and in other, if you cannot do it correct then don’t do it.

    Should someone open a business without managing skills, and try their best?

    #824450
    ZosHaTorah
    Participant

    Have your wife bring the children on Shabbos after the Musaf Shemona Esra has been completed, and they can daven the final 15 minutes by your side (assuming they can handle even this). Over time, you can build on it if they show they are up for it.

    Bring your sons to daven with you for Mincha/Maariv during the week. Perhaps they can handle that, too. Shachris may be too long.

    Bottom line, don’t put a stumbling block in front of a blind man. Don’t put you kids in behavior situations (at shul) where they cannot succeed. There’s too much at stake.

    #824451
    apushatayid
    Participant

    In my minyan there was a fellow who was adamant about not bringing young kids, who disturb other people to shul. A new family with a teenaged “special” child moved into the neighborhood and the father brought him to shul. He disturbed people just like the little kids, but this person didn’t say a word. It was his grandson.

    Peoples perspectives change when they see the other side.

    I’m not saying this man is right or wrong. What I AM saying is that you have to see both sides before making decisions or judgements. Even then an unbiased 3rd party, in this case the Rav of the shul, had to be consulted about what to do.

    I guess every shul will do their own thing based on the guidance of its Rav regarding those who disturb.

    #824452
    Yanky55
    Member

    The Mishna Brura states clearly that if children are disruptive, they should NOT be brought to shul.

    Well said ZosHatorah! When my wife was in bed with a difficult pregnancy I davened at home rather than take my 5 year old son to shul. He would certainly have been disruptive.

    #824453
    blinky
    Participant

    “I guess every shul will do their own thing based on the guidance of its Rav regarding those who disturb.”

    Well said. I agree.

    #824454
    minyan gal
    Member

    If a shul wants to attract young families as members, then it must be attractive to young families. If a child is welcomed in the shul he learns to be comfortable there and gradually begins to participate. At my shul, there are family services downstairs at least twice monthly led by the assistant Rabbi and the program director. This service is extremely family friendly and the parsha is explained at a child’s level of understanding. Also, at the back of the main sanctuary there is spot with small tables, toys and games – if there is no family service that week, the program director sits with the children. There are several small plush toys shaped like Torahs and the children are invited to carry one of them behind the Torah procession. When it is time to sing Eink Eloyhanu and Adon Olam, all the children are invited up to Bimah to participate. It isn’t unusual for a child to stroll across the bimah during the service or for a child to come up with his parent while he has an Aliyah. It brings a smile to everyone’s face to see the children enjoying themselves. These kids will grow up knowing that shul isn’t tedious or unfriendly.

    #824455

    These kids will grow up knowing that shul isn’t tedious or unfriendly or a place of Kedusha

    #824456
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    These kids will grow up knowing that shul isn’t tedious or unfriendly

    or a place of Kedusha

    I’m confused. Why is having a family-friendly environment not an environment of kedusha?

    Very frequently, in the shul I lain in, kids will pull up a chair to the bimah and watch me lain from the opposite side. There is one kid (a Down’s Syndrome sufferer) who makes sure to always watch me lain when he can.

    They also participate by removing/replacing the cover from the Sefer Torah at the appropriate times. I believe this to be excellent chinuch.

    We also invite children up to lead the davening on Musaf after Chazaras HaShatz. The kids sing Ain Keilokeinu, lead Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, L’Dovid (when appropriate, of course) and sing the Shiur HaYichud responsively with the tzibbur.

    Why is this such a problem that if they do this, they won’t believe a shul is a makom k’dusha?

    The Wolf

    #824457
    apushatayid
    Participant

    Mod-80. I think it is a double edged sword. On the one hand you dont want kids to grow up thinking shul is a playground. On the other hand you dont want kids growing up with the attitude “shul?, groan”. To much on either side and there will be problems. Some will grow up thinking shul is a social scene and others will grow up with the proper reverance for the shul with one foot out the door 5 minutes after they walk in.

    #824458

    yes there are definitely two sides

    if a child sees his father going to Shul early and with enthusiasm, and when he is old enough to sit quietly by his fathers side and sees the awe with which he treats the Bais Knesses, when he sees how his father davens with kavannah and is b’simcha to be in Shul and isnt in a rush to leave and means business and doesnt shmooze, he will understand what a Shul is.

    when the child comes to play and run he will have good feelings about a Shul, but he wont know what it is.

    #824459

    thats wonderful wolf. i didnt say that a Shul shouldnt be family=friendly, of course it should

    #824460
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    thats wonderful wolf. i didnt say that a Shul shouldnt be family=friendly, of course it should

    Then I must have misinterpreted your response to minyan gal. If so, I apologize.

    What did you mean by “or a place of kedusha?”

    The Wolf

    #824461

    Then I must have misinterpreted your response to minyan gal.

    no you interpreted my response correctly, i was mistaken

    actually i shouldnt have made the statement you referenced, in response to that particular post. i didnt read it well, i just noticed the part about children strolling across the Bima

    #824462
    mamashtakah
    Member

    I started my kids off by bringing them to Shabbat afternoon mincha. It’s a short davening, and they got to see the sefer Torah. Then they graduated to coming with me on Friday nights. I davened (in the winter) at a nearby Chabad shule. While the shule took a break between Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat to learn Tanya, I did parsha and alef-bet with the kids. My wife brought them on Shabbat morning after Musaf; when I saw they could handle longer periods, they came with me to shule for the entire davening. I loved having them with me, and they sat quietly with a few books they brought with them.

    To this day, my kids (who are now older teenagers) remember “Abba’s Rules”:

    1. Abba leaves on time for shule. If you want to go, you have to be ready to leave with Abba.

    2. In shule, you either sit next to Abba or are in a group. There is no other choice.

    #824463

    i think your approach is excellent abbah

    #824464
    aries2756
    Participant

    When teaching kids about shul, you must teach them the rules of the shul and that the shul is a special place, a place we go to speak to Hashem and ask him for special brachas. The special needs child is taught that and that is why he gets great pleasure out of being a part of the shul experience. HE understands that it is special to be at shul.

    Young children can understand that but only appreciate that for a small period of time and then they lose patience. So they should be allowed to come, but only for the amount of time they can sit quietly and enjoy the shul experience. Obviously as they get older, and their attention span increases as well as their ability to read Hebrew and participate, they will be able to stay longer and enjoy it more.

    However, to expect the father to “watch” the children in shul while he davens, so MOM can get some rest at home, or prepare lunch without the kids bothering her is not a solution. To bring the kids to shul because they are just so cute and doesn’t everyone want to enjoy your kids as much as you do, is just plain outrageous. And to bring the kids to shul so they can absorb the atmosphere and somehow just feel the kedusha doesn’t work either. Chinuch needs to be really thought out and planned. And you can’t ignore the fact that you are teaching a positive thing on one hand while teaching a very negative thing on the other. The negative being to have the chutzpah to ignore the people around you that you are disturbing and the kavanah that you are literally stealing from them.

    #824465
    oomis
    Participant

    “However, to expect the father to “watch” the children in shul while he davens, so MOM can get some rest at home, or prepare lunch without the kids bothering her is not a solution. To bring the kids to shul because they are just so cute and doesn’t everyone want to enjoy your kids as much as you do, is just plain outrageous. And to bring the kids to shul so they can absorb the atmosphere and somehow just feel the kedusha doesn’t work either. Chinuch needs to be really thought out and planned. And you can’t ignore the fact that you are teaching a positive thing on one hand while teaching a very negative thing on the other. The negative being to have the chutzpah to ignore the people around you that you are disturbing and the kavanah that you are literally stealing from them. “

    Do we know each other – I could have written that myself!

    #824466
    mamashtakah
    Member

    Aries2756 – AMEN!

    #824467
    duvdl
    Participant

    I bring my 5 year old to Mincha shabbos. He loves “helping” to take out the Torah, handing the gartel and mantel to the person doing Gelilah, and “helping” to put the sefer back. Then he gets a candy, and goes outside to play. And you know what? I would rather he be involved than not. Why should he be turned off because the sefer is “off limits”? Someone once tried to take the mantel away from him, and I gave it to they guy…. Told him that maybe if kids were being shooed away all the time instead of innocently helping, less children would be “bored” in shul.

    #824468
    bpt
    Participant

    By all means, kids (noisy and not so noisy) should be brought. My father (who is no youngster himself) tells his senior cronies, “in the old age home, and in the bais ha’chayim, its quiet.. shul is for kids, and noise is a sign of life”.

    My kids have been coming since they are able to walk. Not for the whole davening, and loads of nosh to keep them quiet, but I would not have done a thing differently. Now, they sit nicely, sans nosh. So all in all, kids in shul is a good thing.

    #824469
    oomis
    Participant

    BP Totty, while I understand and applaud your idealism, in the real world bringing noisy kids to shul is not only a distraction, but is counterproductive. With people trying to have extra kavanah during the Y”N, this not only does not allow them to focus on their davening, it causes them to be annoyed and frustrated with the kids, and that surely is NOT a good thing when we are trying to get into a different sort of mindset.

    The problem also is that parents who bring their kids DO NOT DISCIPLINE THEM. They make themselves nisht vissendik to the noise their children are making. That is patently wrong and unfair to the oilem. BTW, you knwo what is really annoying? When kids have all that nosh you mentioned, with them on Yom Kippur, and are rustling the plastic bags, tearing open the potato chips, and chomping noisily while the rest of us are fasting. Sorry, but you do not get my vote on this one, though I appreciate your wisdom and clarity most of the time. Have a k’siva v’chasima tova.

    #824470
    bpt
    Participant

    OK, I didn’t let them swing from the chandelier. But nor did I keep them home till they were 10 and able to sit still and quiet. To be fair, the shul I daven at is 70% under 50, so our idea of acceptable noise may be somewhat more than the norm.

    Oh well, I guess I can’t win you over each time. And for the record, I feel your pain re: the food on Yom kippur, as I was the one who was making cold cut sandwitches for the kids during the break… talk about challenging situations!

    Chasiva v’Chasima Toivah to you too.

    #824471

    this reminds me

    for some reason after Yom Kippur i always have a taivah for cheerios…….and in a plastic bag.

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