Shabbat Shalom, Hey!

Shabbat mornings have become an increasing quandary for me. I know it would be good to take the kids to shul, especially the girls who are already 4 and 6. I have memories of going to shul with my father, playing with my friends, sitting on his lap for kriat hatorah. However, since we haven't really found a shul that we're all comfortable in, it's kind of hard to swing that. My husband goes to a local Israeli minyan, but the girls don't like going with him because they don't have friends there. The shul where they have friends is not really comfortable for my husband (too Anglo). So, occasionally I've taken them to the park near the Anglo shul where they have friends, so they can socialize and I can see some of my friends and then we meet up at home for kiddush and lunch. I've tried to take them into shul myself and it always ends in disaster. It's just too hard to manage the three of them myself.

Usually, I'm just lazy, and the girls happily play their elaborate pretend games in their room, which usually involves every costume and plastic food item we own, Eli gets cereal crumbs all over the house and I make it 3/4 of the way through my latest New Yorker. Very spiritual for all involved...

This week, I decided to make a change. I made everyone get dressed (the above homebound scenario occurs in pajamas).  We cleaned up the living room and we did tefillat yeladim at home. Avital, my oldest, was our chazanit. We used her old gan siddur. I had her lead from what she knew from gan and school and Tehilla and I followed along. Eli came with a bencher and answered amen where it was and wasn't appropriate. We went through the brachot and did a lot of hand motions. And then I added some Shabbat related tefilot. I taught them the first line of El Adon and we sang v'Shamru from Shemoneh Esreh. And then we did Birkat Hachodesh and davened really hard for a good month. We all really enjoyed it. I'm sorry we didn't start this sooner, but, better late then never.

And then, in fine tefillat yeladim tradition, we ended the session with a treat. Bittersweet chocolate, because that's all I had. It's no toffee, but, at least they've developed a taste for it.  

How do you handle shul and kids?


mother in israel said...

I like that story. We do this Friday night. I don't have a baby anymore so no excuse not to go, but my 8yo stays home sometimes. PS. Israeli Kitchen's URL needs to be updated on your sidebar.(

Common Sense said...


I agree shul for the kiddies is a must - especially once they can read Hebrew. How about a compromise, where your husband agrees to take them to the shul where they have friends every other week and the girls go with him every other week? Or would that leave everyone unhappy?

OneTiredEma said...

We totally should do this, but instead we do option a because the kids usually get along best first thing in the morning but never get to play then. My daughter often goes Friday night too and would read when she got bored, but now she has friends at shul and runs around outside. Oh well. My son is totally not ready to sit quietly for any amount of time! Our shul is moving in the next few months to a building very close to our house, and then I think it will be more matim to try even for short periods of time.

In America our shul had what they called "kinder minyan" on Friday night, which was regular shul with a few kid friendly elements and a very high tolerance for kids talking. I miss that--it was a good motivator for us all to go.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Our Friday night minyan is kid-friendly Carlebach with lots of singing and some dancing as well -- which the younger kids enjoy. The older ones (teenagers) sometimes stay in shul...sometimes go outside to hang with their friends.

Shabbat morning there's a kids davening in shul (which my 14 yr old daughter runs) -- and that works out pretty decently.

Luckily, we're only a 45-second walk to shul, so its not really a big deal for the little kids to get to shul.

Question: At what point do you "force" kids to go to shul...or let them stay outside with their friends? Many people I know cant stand shul because "they were forced to stay in by their parents" and today they stay outside shul. Better to give kids more leeway?

What say you?

Commenter Abbi said...

MII:Thanks, yes Friday night works too.

Common Sense: Yes, a compromise would work too, but somehow it never works out...

OTE: The Anglo shul does have a nice kiddie minyan for toddlers Shabbat mornings, but there's the whole getting out thing that seems to be difficult. Also, Shabbat being the only morning a week I don't have to hustle everyone out the door makes it harder.

Jameel: It's hard for me to say at what point I would force kids into shul. I'm hoping it becomes a natural thing, like it did for me. I don't remember anyone forcing me to daven ( and my mother NEVER came to shul, so it's not like I had a female role model) but I remember at a certain point I just started taking davening seriously, at least to the point where I would stay in until after Kedusha of musaf (and then leave to hang out with my friends). But in general I was very into davening as a teen, so it's hard to say.

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