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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Davening Dilemma

With the Days of Awe rapidly aproaching, I have been mulling some issues regarding the way things are done in my shul, and how it affects my family.

The shul we attend is quite crowded. There is construction proposed, but it has not yet materialized. As it stands, there is not really room for children to pray alongside their parents. Which has not really been an issue for me up until now, as my children are very happy to attend the groups that are organized by the shul for each age group. They daven together with the group, play a few games with their friends, eat some junk food, and everyone is happy.

But some of my children are no longer toddlers, or have not been for years. I wonder if it is time for them to begin to attempt to sit through the whole length of davening, in the men's or women's section, next to their respective parent.

I'm not expecting them to sit through the whole day of prayers, but I think it might be time to start teaching them the ropes of sitting in the main sanctuary. I would love to sit next to my daughter, pointing out the place for her in the siddur, as my mother did for me when I was her age. My husband, too, has expressed to me that he thinks my oldest son is ready to sit through davening.

Unfortunately, this is not an option for every child in my shul. Both the men's and women's sections are extremely crowded, and it would be impossible to satisfy every parent's request a seat for their child.

What to do? Go against my better judgement of what is the right course of action for my children for the greater good of the shul? Do what I think is best for my children and my family?

Any ideas?


Anonymous proudmommy0f4 said...

We've got the same problem at our shul! My oldest daughter is old enough to "qualify" for a seat, but my middle one is old enough to stay for a significant period and we can't have a seat for her. I plan on coming relatively early in the day, so hopefully we'll get there before the ladies section fills, and we'll just squat on a couple of empty seats, often the ones next to us are free at that point. Also, I requested an aisle seat, towards the back. That way, if there are no empty seats handy, she'll just have to sit on the floor when I need to sit and can sit in my seat while I can stand in the aisle.

Not a perfect plan, but it's something.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesnt sound like you really have much of a choice. If theres no room, then how is it even an option? Are there other shuls nearby that do have space for kids to sit next to parents?

10:50 AM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

the greater good of the shul is a luxury type of responsibility.
what is best for children and family is one's 1st responsibility.
but what if what is best for children is to teach them responsibility for the greater good of the shul ?

12:11 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:11 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Shifra said...

Our shul has the same problem.

I'm very much in favor of youth programming for younger kids it's a perfect solutions but eventually we need to start weaning them back on to regular services so that they will learn to appreciate it and follow along as they become adults. I also have good memories of sitting with my father (as a little girl) and following along with him. My mother is a serious davener but not a shul goer- I learned to daven with her at home as well.
My oldest is now 10 and should really be in shul at least for part of the davening. Mostly likely we will also share a seat and just squish it. I know it's hard but for as long as she will behave and daven nicely I don't think I need to sacrifice her chinuch so there can be a little more elbow room in the sanctuary. I also would not begrudge any other parent that same right.

Maybe some rich woman in the front will feel the pinch too and contribute to the building fund generously - or alternatively go elsewhere leaving more room for my kids it's win-win!

12:11 PM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

well firstly we are talking about children that know how to behave b/c if they dont then they should not be in shul and if that means the mother has to stay home so be it, but thats a blog for another time. this problem is very common in the "popular shuls" everyone wants to daven there. this is also a problem on shabbos as well. adults always come first there should never be a child with a seat if an adult does not have one. so in short OM either the child sits in the parents seat or it is time for a break off minyan there are just so many seats to go around. you can also go away for yom tov thats an easy solution, and you dont have to cook the best of both worlds.
this is a growing problem with k'h the generations getting larger it is important for a child to sit with a parent to learn that right way how to act and daven. when i was younger we used to make fun that in brooklyn there is a shul on every block. you know what they are all full k'h. so yes it is a problem finding the child a seat but it is a good problem.

12:47 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

Just buy a seat for them, and no one can complain

3:55 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

I think it's more important that they don't have a seat, so that the adults can sit and daven. Derech eretz and all, ya know.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

If you pay for a seat for the kids, will the other kids know that's why your kids are sitting and they can't? And how will the adults feel if you paid first and now they don't have room to daven?

4:50 PM  
Blogger Renegade Rebbetzin said...

My idea is, move here. You can have as many seats as you want. On the house. :-)

(just don't tell Phil I offered)

8:47 PM  
Blogger Air Time said...

We started buying an extra seat in the women's section years ago, and then another extra seat in the men's section about two years ago.

That way, if they come in and daven, they have a seat. And if they stay with groups, one of the other kids in our section (we have lot of kids in our section) can sit there.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS is why my shul rents out 3 Unitarian churches for the Chaggism!

4:39 PM  
Blogger tuesdaywishes said...


11:34 PM  
Blogger muse said...

Start with Shabbatot, and make it a reward. I presume that if your shul is crowded, getting extra seats isn't so simple.
In Israel it's common to have an "outside" Ezrat Nashim for those with young kids and babies. You hear the dovening from the window and have more space to move around and don't disturb "upstairs."

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