Young People at Services
TBZ WELCOMES FAMILIES, TEENS, TWEENS AND YOUNG CHILDREN TO SERVICES.
We welcome the sounds and songs of infants, toddlers, and young ones in our services. There are times though, when the community requires quiet and calm in the Sanctuary for prayer and reflection. In this way we teach our children to respect prayer and community, and teach our community that our children are our present and future.
In the Sanctuary we talk softly and do not run or jump, to show respect to others and give everyone the opportunity to pray. During services, children should not climb or play on the bimah stairs. Children may come and sit on the bimah when the Rabbis invite them to do so.
Electronic and battery-operated toys, writing and drawing are not allowed in the Sanctuary. Feel free to bring quiet toys, books and stickers to the Sanctuary so children can play and read quietly during the service.
Please take your child out of the Sanctuary if your child is restless or crying while someone is chanting Torah and Haphtarah, giving a D’var Torah, during silent meditation time or Mourners Kaddish. Please use your best discretion as to other times when it is appropriate to go outside with your children.
If you need to bring your child out of the Sanctuary, please feel free to use the 3rd floor where there is space to play. Parents can hear the services on the speakers in the large 3rd Floor classroom.
Snacks: We would prefer that you not bring snacks into the Sanctuary. If you need to, please bring snacks in a closed bag or container and supervise your child to prevent spills on the chairs or rug. Please bring drinks only in sippy cups or bottles, as juice boxes often leak or spill.
We are blessed to have talented drummers who may be asked by our Rabbis to enhance our services with their joyful accompaniment to songs of praise and gratitude. In order to maintain an atmosphere of joy without chaos, we ask that children drum only during their children’s services (when appropriate) and at the family services we hold twice yearly.
Please make sure that you know where your child is when he or she leaves the sanctuary. Children under age 10 should not leave the Sanctuary without adequate supervision. Please also remember that our older children (teen and pre-teen) may need to be reminded about proper behavior outside of the Sanctuary as well.
We look forward to joining together for Kiddush and Oneg each week. To make sure that all can enjoy our beautiful meals, we ask that children (and adults) remain outside the Community Room and the kitchen while Kiddush and Oneg are being prepared. Please do not start eating until the blessings are said. This is the way that we teach our children about the kavanah of food and community.
At TBZ our kavanah is respect for each other, our food, and our environment. At Kiddush and Oneg we ask that you help teach your children to take only what they need, to keep our indoor and outdoor spaces clean, and to help dispose of trash in our recycling bins.
BRINGING YOUR CHILDREN TO SHUL: A GUIDE TO THE PERPLEXED
By Sara Smolover, Kim Meyers and Marilyn Paul (parents of seven young TBZ members)
Attending shul as an adult brings its own challenges. What will I get out of the service? Will I know anybody? How come everyone seems to know what they’re doing and I don’t?
Bringing children into the picture adds more to the mix. How can I get them to sit still, to pay attention, to want to come? What can I possibly get out of services myself if I am attending to the needs of my children?
Parents need to know that it is never too early to start bringing kids to shul at TBZ. The younger children are, in fact, the more they will absorb the environment and grow accustomed to being there. Your children are always taking in what is going on around them. Before you know it, they will begin to recognize the melodies and the words and be comfortable with the people around them. They will also soak up the kvelling and oohing and ahhing that they will receive from the older members of our shul!
Here are some thoughts and suggestions that we hope will spark some discussion in your homes. TBZ is a community of singles, seniors, couples, and families with young (and not so young) children. It is our hope that our community will grow with the energy from each of these components.
- Try it. Just come once to the “big shul” with your kids. Check it out. Friday night has beautiful singing, Saturday morning has Torah as well. View coming as a discovery process, not an onerous obligation.
- Prime your children and excite them. During the week, talk about coming to services and what they have to look forward to (e.g. wearing their special clothes, reading their special books, special mommy/daddy time, singing, playing, seeing a special person). Shabbat can be a time for special treats–you might consider promising ice cream at Kiddush/Oneg!
- Set aside special books or quiet toys to bring to shul. Try a Jewish interactive book, like one with Velcro pieces that have a Jewish theme. Check out the great variety at the Israel Book Store and Kolbo with your children and letthem pick special “shul only” things to do if they are bored. Get the kids excited about getting to look at them and use them at shul.
- Set aside special clothes for shul. Most kids will get used to the idea that shul is a special place and that Shabbat is really a holiday to dress up for. Talk about “shul shoes” instead of “party shoes.”
- Talk with your children about shul behavior. Prepare them that there are times when they will need to be very quiet as well as times when it’s ok to dance. Let them know that you will be able to take them out if they are fidgety, so that other people won’t be disturbed.
While in Shul
- Manage your own expectations. Shul with your kids is not the same as shul without them, and you probably will not be able to experience it as you would without them. On the other hand, be open to the satisfaction and joy that you can only get when you are in shul with your kids.
- Know what your children’s limits are. Come late and stay to the end or come early and leave in the middle. If they are restless, take them upstairs to play and listen to the service on the speaker or go out of the sanctuary for a drink or kosher snack and then come back.
- If you are in a two-parent family, you might want to plan that one person will be primarily on “kid duty” while the other is engaged in the service. That way, instead of both adults missing the service, one gets to participate and the other one does child care. Agree on a time or part of the service to switch.
- Help your children be engaged in the service by sharing the parts of being in shul that you find special. If you wear a tallit, wrap them in it, or let them wrap the fringes around their fingers. As you are singing the prayers, quietly tell your child what the prayers mean in English. Point out the pictures of the twelve tribes on the ark. Share the pictures and maps in the back of the Chumash (the red book). Have them find letters from their name in the Siddur, or the page number that you are looking for.
Some people come to TBZ because they enjoy the singing, some to pray, some come for the sense of community, some come because they enjoy the schmoozing, the Oneg/Kiddush, some love the reminder to slow down and attend to our sense of the sacred. You may discover your own sense of what you enjoy about synagogue attendance, while you build a place to celebrate your family’s spirituality. Remember,this discovery takes time; it won’thappen by coming once or twice. It really helps to plan to go to shul with another family, and it really helps, eventually, to keep showing up. We hope you will.