web analytics
August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Don’t Bring The Kids


“Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh,” chants the chazzan.

God’s ear is pressed against the floor of the heavens; the angels dance joyfully around His throne as the congregation’s holy prayers –

“Mommeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I want a cookie!”

Walk into any shul in almost any neighborhood on Shabbos and you can be forgiven for thinking you have mistakenly stepped into a nursery. The same goes for almost any Jewish wedding hall, where it takes as much skill to navigate the obstacle course of baby strollers as it does to look good on the dance floor.

A few generations ago, parents held by the adage that “children should be seen and not heard” – even, to an extent, while sitting around the dinner table in their own home. Now, it seems clearer everywhere I turn, we’ve moved way too far in the other direction.

I am no advocate of raising children as statues or automatons. On the contrary, small souls need ample room to run, babble, laugh, shriek, cry, climb, grab, and try just about anything. Very young children – I’m talking babies and toddlers here – cannot be expected to control these impulses any more than they can be asked to do their own laundry.

That’s where the parents come in. It is their job to choose the right environments for the utterly normal craziness of their children’s behavior to unfold. A shul, wedding, funeral, and shiva home do not fall into that category. Bringing a young child into a setting that calls for decorous behavior is wrong on two counts: It’s unfair to the child and inconsiderate of the other adults in attendance.

Allow me to illustrate both aspects of the problem. Recently, I attended a wedding at the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. As the chassan and his entourage made their approach toward the kallah for the badeken, some half-dozen musicians surrounded him, trumpeting loudly to herald his arrival. I angled to find a good spot, and found myself next to a young mother holding an infant – who could not have been more than two months old – in her arms. Pity this poor baby’s tiny, defenseless eardrums! Not to mention the germs that permeate the air when hordes of people huddle shoulder to shoulder.

On the other side of the coin, I once attended a wedding where a friend of the kallah assigned to my table showed up with her little girl – aged two or perhaps three – in tow. At the dinner, she promptly seated her daughter at a chair and began to feed her from the plate opposite. This left one seat too few at the table, so that one of the actual invited guests arrived to find her seat taken.

Now it’s true that this woman’s chutzpah went beyond the usual levels. Most offenders only bring along babies who are still carriage-bound. But that’s nonetheless a troubling trend. How many chupahs can you recall that have not been interrupted by the wail of an infant? When was the last time your concentration during Shemoneh Esrei was not pierced by the squeals of a little one clamoring for her parent’s attention?

I’m not saying it’s never appropriate to bring a child to a formal setting. Obviously, if one’s sister or best friend in the whole world is getting married, the little tyke might be an invited guest. It all comes down to good judgment. It takes reflection and forethought to decide where a child belongs and where he doesn’t. Generally, any time that sitting still or keeping silent will be required, the correct answer is: Leave the munchkin home. Even if it means having to forgo the event yourself.

If, for whatever reason, one decides to bring along a baby, the need for good judgment doesn’t end there. The parent should situate herself at the back of the room (i.e., near the exit), and if the little one starts making noise, leave the room. Immediately. Ten minutes of “shhh, shhh” overlaying the sound of a child’s whimpers is doubly disruptive.

A less discussed venue where babies seem to show up more and more these days is houses of mourning. A young mother I know lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. Not surprisingly, the community came out in force and the shiva house was packed to the walls. Several people – who were not close relatives – had the poor judgment to bring their kids along. The house became noisy and chaotic, even as friends, rabbis, and loved ones tried to comfort the widow with stories of her husband and words of Torah. The situation became so stressful for her that she had to enlist someone to ask the offending visitors to leave.

What were those people thinking? Why do so many parents give so little thought to toting their Snap N’ Go along to a simcha, or taking a three-year-old child to shul on Shabbos? As harsh as this may sound, I believe it stems from selfishness. Unfortunately, many young parents have trouble coming to terms with how parenthood changes their lifestyle – the sacrifices, the reduced social calendar.

The thinking goes something like this: “I really want to attend _________. If I don’t take my little princess along, that means I won’t be able to go either. Lots of other people bring their kids; why shouldn’t I? Besides, my precious bundle is so cute and well-behaved, everyone will get a kick out of seeing her.”

To that last point I say, if the baby is smiling and cooing rather than crying, it’s still distracting.

When it comes to bringing kids to shul, some claim another rationale for the practice: that the spiritual environment is great chinuch, and even a child too young to daven can soak in the kedushah. Now, that argument makes a lot of sense if you’re talking about a six year old who has the temperament to spend an hour sitting quietly next to Daddy in shul. For children still in Pull-Ups, I say get real. By keeping them out of the sanctuary (with rare exceptions), parents impart the lesson that shul is a holy place that requires grown-up behavior. Shul attendance is a rite to work toward and look forward to as they grow older.

The bottom line is that children should be seen as well as heard. Just not in places where they absolutely don’t belong.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Don’t Bring The Kids”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Shira Banki, 16, z'l
PM Offers Condolences to Family of 16-yr-old Gay Pride Parade Victim
Latest Indepth Stories
lahore

I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya

Eishet Chayil

While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not

Jonathan Pollard.

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Inside of the home burned in the Prce Tag attack in the village of Duma.

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

More Articles from Ziona Greenwald
Front-Page-071715

Some hard-core Israelis and would-be olim believe there is no life for the Jewish people outside of Israel, period.


Numbers permeate our culture,not advanced mathematics but snapshot stats that provoke snap judgments

The Lion’s Gate takes us from the dawn of the state in 1948, through intervening battles, to the lead-up to June 1967, and finally through the harrowing six days of fighting.

Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.

Geller, a mother of five who made aliyah from Monsey last year, offers a glimpse – with lots of photos – into her busy family life.

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children’s eyes are the window to the Almighty Himself.

It is ten o’clock in the morning. I am at a local park with my daughter. A number of children are climbing and sliding, imbibing the fresh air. In their orbit are a smaller number of women, some milling around on foot, others sitting on the benches conversing and minding strollers. Trailing my own child, I play a silent game: Who is a Mommy? Which, if any, of these women (who range from lovingly attentive to disturbingly disengaged) are the children’s mothers, and which are babysitters?

We asked several experienced mechanchim for their insights on how to shepherd children from their first “Modeh Ani” to the understanding that Hashem alone holds the key to every aspect of their existence. Here are the key principles they shared.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/dont-bring-the-kids/2009/08/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: