Friday, February 3, 2012

Brats are Banned

I take my shul going very seriously. More specifically, I believe that if adults are going to shul to daven, children should not be permitted to goof around talking loudly and running noisily. 

While parents may bring their offspring to shul with the claim of "chinuch," allowing children to disturb others' prayer and treating the shul as a playground is definitely not chinuch. 

Since I am a crabby spinster, I will tell off children and chase them out if they misbehave. Usually the kids have the same reaction: initial disbelief, followed by nervous darting eyes for a savior, finished off with a terrified fleeing for the outdoors. Incredibly satisfying. 

The other week two little boys waltzed in, unaccompanied, into the ladies' turf. They most definitely broke records for the most obnoxious; they propped their feet on the shtenders, they had loud conversations across the shul, they clambered over chairs as though they were rock-climbing. 

Obviously, they had to go. 

I pulled myself up to my most forbidding height, I marched over, eyes flashing, and snarled, "Get out." 

The boys said no. 

Come again? 

"You come to shul, where people are davening, and bang? GET. OUT." 

They refused to move. 
I visualized myself grabbing each by the ear and throwing them out forcibly, but I thought that may lead to a lawsuit. 

I sat down, dazed. 

My shul tends to be pretty tolerant, but these two were so mind-boggingly bad that at least five other women approached them, all to no avail. 

Never. Happened. Before. 

I have noticed, on more than one occasion, that there are parents who are either incapable of disciplining their children, or simply do not care if the creatures they are responsible for run amuck. 

It's your kids. You are ones granted their emotional well-being. From who else will they learn proper behavior and decorum? The help?
Only if you've got SuperNanny.
First things first: children have to learn how to sit quiet and still for a few hours at a time. Then they can come to shul and learn the importance of davening. And if they don't know how to do that first, don't be surprised if some crabby spinster boxes your kid's ears.


Mystery Woman said...

There are two separate issues here. There's the fact that kids who aren't ready for shul don't belong there. And....some parents are raising obnoxious kids. The second bothers me a lot more than the first.

Princess Lea said...

Not all children are vicious, true. They just can't yet sit through a whole davening.

In my view, if a child is obnoxious, he's not being raised. A parent decided to refrain from demanding any sort of proper behavior from their children. And that is sad, since the child is being neglected and makes everyone's lives more difficult.

Sweet Profusion said...

Okay, have to take issue here. Now maybe you live in a place with the luxury of many shuls to choose from - then be my guest, create an "adults only" minyan. Heck, if the market in your area allows, I'm all for adults-only supermarkets. but if you lived in a community with limited minyanim, it is bad, BAD to essential bar your "nannies/cooks/nursemaids/kiddush ladies" from shul. Oh, and sometimes we are called mothers, wives or women. Look, if the first obligation of a community is to build a mikvah - well what do you think is the outcome??!! So it should also be an obligation on the community to provide a place for those resulting children and mothers. There were years when I went to shul maybe 3 times a year (and I am also a serious davener, really get so much from davening with a minyan), and I remember, still with tremendous anger, one awful time I went to shul on Rosh Ha'shana. I was just desperately planned to be there long enough to hear shofar and daven shacharit out in the hall (I knew musaf wouldn't fly). I try to take my FIVE MINUTES to daven, my kids were outside or reading. But because I was a mother standing in THEIR shul (forget that I payed membership dues, helped with kiddush, etc) and there were kids playing in the hall, a man came out, and glowered at me for my whole five minutes of shmona esrei, then told me "children do not belong in shul, go take care of them. WE cannot daven." I do not want to tell you what response I wanted to give.

Okay, the kids you described were very ugly in their disrespect. But to make your decree "NO KIDS IN SHUL" is really not the (full) answer.

Sweet Profusion said...

Forgot a point - out of 3 boys, I had one miracle child, who at 3yrs could sit quietly through an hour long davening or shi'ur. But for most children, that is really asking way too much. So your rule bars any children under about 10, and mothers of such children.

Princess Lea said...

Women do not have to go to shul, although it is understandable that they want to.

For most children, of course, it cannot be expected that they sit quietly. But they do not have to go to shul either.

I come from the background that while her children were little, a mother would have to stay home with them. Soon they would be old enough to come to shul, and then she can attend davening again; that's why I go to shul regularly now. I hope for a child-filled future which will involve staying in for many a Shabbos.

I know what a lift davening in shul can provide. But if the alternate is that other people will be disturbed, then that has to be forgoed for a time for the greater good.

Davening at home does not lessen one's prayers, or make them less powerful. Many mothers find themselves at home on Shabbos or Rosh Hashana. But that is not forever. And one can connect to their spirituality without attending shul.

Sweet Profusion said...

Believe me, I have heard that point many, many times. I could argue that today, when we don't have the same support systems of a tight dense community, of relatives and in-laws nearby, going to shul is one of the few ways to connect with the community. I could argue that with the disappearance of shabbos-goyim, along with the luxury of feeling safe letting your 7-yr-old stay at home unsupervised, etc, it is necessary to provide baby-sitting, or at least a rumpus room or playground for children at shul.
But instead let me say that even "back then" shul was obviously considered important for women - even if only for social reasons: what is given as the example given of a vow that a husband or father must break for his female dependent? - that she will not go to shul.

Princess Lea said...

The concept of a vow only applies to a woman who just gave birth, since in the throes of labor she may have sworn never to have children.

So unless you made promises during labor, a woman can stay home without any worries.

Is shul going about davening and God, or is it about socializing? If one's motivation is to socialize, she can wait outdoors with her children (plenty of the other mothers in my shul do that) and catch up. Or, many families share Shabbos meals together instead. There are also plenty of ways during the week for women to connect.

Some shuls have programs to take care of youngsters. Many do not, nor should they be required to.

I can assure you that "in the old country" children were not permitted inside the shul (it was like that in my mother's hometown) and if there was no one else who could babysit then a mother stayed at home.

Be aware that a woman is required only to daven Shacharis, not musaf. If your kid has only about an hour's worth of sitting still, rather come earlier and leave earlier rather for Shacharis.

Shul is something sacred with deep meaning, and it is also about the needs of the whole rather than the desires of one. If shul, as a whole, requires silence in order to have proper prayer, then personal wants have to be put aside.

Sweet Profusion said...

No, no. I think it is just the opposite. A woman's vow is of course considered binding at ANYTIME if it is not nullified. This is why there is a mitzvah that a man may nullify her vow. It is the vows made in labor that are more questionable - and thus possibly taken care of with the korban chatas (not sure if it's chatas, will look it up) she is required to bring after the birth.

Also, although I said I was only trying to daven shacharit that R'H, I think Ramban (again I will have to look it up) says women are actually more obligated on musaf, since this is a stand in for the communal offerings of yomtov, of which women are considered included.

I don't think I can comment again today. Nice to discuss. Have a good shabbos.

Anonymous said...

I think children don't belong anywhere they can't behave (i.e. movie theaters, nice restaurants, etc) and my children do not go to shul rather our nanny comes if I want to go.

However, if I was sitting in a public area with them nearby and some stranger (or did you know these kids?) told my kid to "get out" as in, leave the presence of their mother/guardian, my kids would have reacted in exactly the same way (as in, ignored you)

It seems to me equally valid that *you* can daven at home if you don't like the kids in shul since you have the same non-obligations as the mother, no?

Princess Lea said...

Anonymous: Apparently you did not read my post thoroughly. I said I tell these kids to leave when they are obviously unaccompanied.

I do not usurp the place of a parent when the parent is present, meaning they are, supposedly, parenting. But if they let a child run around without supervision, not taking responsibility for their actions or providing guidance, then they cannot exactly complain.

Are you saying that if your child was misbehaving in your presence, that would be ok?

Princess Lea said...

SP: Direct quote from Rabbi Yisroel Reisman's Pathways of the Prophets, page 436:

"On Shabbos, many women arrive in shul in time to join in the Mussaf prayer. Women are commanded to daven Shacharis and (according to many poskim) Minchah. They are certainly not commanded to daven Mussaf. The Mishnah Berurah (106:4) quotes two opinions regarding Mussaf. Tzlach maintains that women are prohibited from davening Mussaf. This is because the Mussaf prayer is in place of the Mussaf sacrifice in the Beis Hamikdash. Women did not take part in the Mussaf sacrifice and therefore have no connection to the Mussaf prayer. Mogen Geborim disagrees. He maintains that women may daven Mussaf, although he concedes that there is no obligation for them to do so."

Penina said...

My shul is very kid-friendly, and there are frequently kids, and sometimes those kids are a little noisy. The thing is, the noise is always kept shul-appropriate, or the parents take the kids out.

For example: my year and half year old daughter likes the shul niggunim--maybe a little too much. When she's sitting with her daddy, she sometimes gets a little too enthusiastic about chiming in. Nobody minds, because she's "participating."

But when kids start running around, or engaging in non-shul noisy behavior, you better believe that their parent, or another adult, ejects them or tells them off right quick.

It's part of the culture of our community: noisy, involved kids are welcome, noisy disruptive kids gotta go. And everyone collectively participates in enforcing this unwritten rule.

Princess Lea said...

Penina: Exactly! If a child is really appreciating the davening, that is one thing; if the kid is using the premises as a playground, that's something else.

Shul is about prayer, and while kids are cute and all, they have to be well-behaved do be allowed entry.

Harryer Than them All said...

I remember reading in the R Shlomo Friefeld biography that he wanted the bimah to have steps leading up to it this way children would come and sit on the steps. that it would be very important that children feel comfortable in shul.

On a related note, there is a new picture book about all the halachos of the Bais Kenesses. While the book does show the halachos of the Ezras Nashim and what is not allowed to be done/said there, there are no women depicted in the book (at all) and the book does say that the Ezras Nashim while part of the shul does not have the same kedushas B"M (which is true). I believe that if a children's book does not depict it as a place where people actually daven (re: women) then the subtleties in the message will trickle down to children.

Princess Lea said...

Harrier: There are some rabbanim who are pro children in shul, and there are rabbanim who are against. However, the rabbanim who were pro were not considering children acting like vilda chayos in shul. In Europe, children were definitely raised differently there then they are now.

I don't expect a book to raise a child. Three shitfim: Mother, Father, and God. I don't expect schools to teach children how to behave. It's up to PARENTS, and PARENTS only.

And while kedusha may be less in the ezras nashim, that is no excuse for lack of respect or consideration for others.

Anonymous said...

Children are not supposed to be brought to shul unless they can sit through it and behave. Here in LA one of the chabad shuls established a kids minyan Not like a regular group in shul, but a real minyan. they have their own building, their own board, president etc. it gives the kids a sense of belonging and through that they learn how to behave properly in shul.

Princess Lea said...

Although it is a kids' minyan, it is expecting certain behavior from the children. Nice.