Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking Kids To High Holy Day Services

Yom Kippur ended nearly a week ago and Rosh Hashanah is now two weeks behind us. So, of course, I'm writing about the High Holy Days/High Holidays today. I'm all about timing.

Anyway, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days of reflection, prayer, celebration (in the case of Rosh Hashanah) and atonement (in the case of Yom Kippur). Going to synagogue for these holidays/holy days is a bit more challenging with two children. Fortunately, the synagogue we attended included many families and services specifically geared towards kids. Unfortunately, if you (and by you I mean me) wanted some individual time for prayer, that wasn't going to happen.

This isn't going to be a religious post, so please don't leave just because of the topic. It's more about the experience going to synagogue for the high holidays with kids rather than, well, something else.

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we got to synagogue early compared to when the preschool service started. Almost immediately after we got our seats in the main sanctuary, our five-month old started crying. He exited the sanctuary leaving me alone with my 3 year-old son. Naturally, the 3-year old was a little restless though he enjoying playing with my tallit. (That line could sound dirty. A tallit, or tallis, is a prayer shawl. I'm not sure that makes it sound better. How about a picture of a Steelers tallis instead?)

It didn't take long until we exited the sanctuary to find the preschool service. The preschool service was outstanding with an energetic and patient teacher, and after a successful trip to the potty (for my 3 year-old, not me), we went back to the grown-up service. We entered during the Torah service and saw them carry the Torah around the room. Unfortunately, I quickly realized we came in during the end of the Torah service. We arrived just in time for...the Rabbi's sermon! While my kids might be fascinated by some prayers/songs, they weren't going go get anything out of the likely 15-minute sermon. It was more likely that they would distract others. We quickly left.

During the morning Yom Kippur service, we went straight to the kids' service. After that ended and with both kids occupied, I wanted to go into the main service for a few minutes. The room was packed, so I managed to squeeze into the middle of a row. About 2 minutes after I entered, the Rabbi called up two members of the present the annual appeal asking the congregation to give money to the synagogue! I was stuck. There was no way I could discretely sneak out, so I stayed and listened and hoped it would end quickly. When it did, I pushed (not literally) my way out.

I guess the morale of this story is that I'm not ready to take my kids to the main Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. Maybe next year?

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