Volume 20 Number 82
                       Produced: Mon Aug  7  7:26:37 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bringing Children to Shul
         [Mordechai Perlman]
Children in Shul
         [Eliyahu Teitz]
         [Annette Linzer]
Small Children in Shul
         [Carl Sherer]
Small Children in the Synagogue
         [Gayle Statman]
Well Rounded education in Jewish High school
         [Mordechai Perlman]


From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 1995 19:23:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Bringing Children to Shul

On Mon, 31 Jul 1995, Winston Weilheimer wrote:
> if we do not allow children to come when the are small and learn tefilah
> when they are impressionable, how can we cry when the leave when they
> are older and tell us that the religion means nothing to them.

       If the sum total of one's children's exposure to Judaism is the 
synagogue experience, then I see your point.  But that ought not to be.  
Parents can expose their children to many parts of Judaism even while in 
the home.  Some examples are:  Saying Modeh Ani in the morning with them 
as well as Sh'ma, saying Sh'ma with them when they go to sleep with other 
prayers (e.g. Hamalach Hago'el), washing their hands in the morning, 
saying the blessings over food with them, watching their father learn 
Torah at home (sometimes accompanied with a sit in his lap for added 
impressions) on a regular basis and perhaps giving them a book too so 
they can mimic their father, watching one's mother light candles on Friday 
night, watching their parents fulfill mitzvos (such as the blessings, 
wearing tzitzis and t'fillin, etc.); watching how their parents honour 
their parents and Torah scholars, how poor people are received in their 
home, how Shabbos and Yom Tov is observed (included here is the Seder on 
Pesach as well as the eating only of Matzah on Pesach, sitting in the 
Succah and possibly sleeping there as well, rejoicing on Purim and 
mourning on Tisha B'av, as well as other customs at other festival 
meals), etc.
      My parents did not bring me to shul until I could understand what
the Shul was for (also since my parents did not use the Eruv in town I
did not come to Shul on Shabbos unless I could walk).  Even when I was
brought, it was only for very short periods on Shabbos and Yom Tov, such
as for the Reading of the Torah, Kol Nidre, Shofar Blowing.  If it was
inconvenient to bring me to Shul, my mother and my older sisters took
turns babysitting (the same for my younger siblings).  My father did not
chatter with people in shul, shul was for davening and learning only,
not as a social event.  When I finally went to shul regularly I went
with the understanding that the shul was a holy place where G-d's
presence rested, and one conducted himself seriously there.  It was
another dimension to my Jewish childhood experiences but certainly not
my only one.  I was also privileged to have G-d fearing grandparents.
One of my grandfathers used to ask us brain teasers based on the Chumash
(he still does BA"H).
     If a child is exposed to Judaism in such a way, and he is sent to a
school which can add to the child's Jewish experiences and add to his
Jewish knowledge according to the tradition of his ancestors, and is
also sent to such a high school when he/she gets older, I believe, one
can be guaranteed that the child will walk in the path that his parents
trod upon.  It's true, sometimes nevertheless the apple falls far from
the tree but the parents have tried their best.  Bringing children to
shul at an age where they cannot understand the meaning of shul (even on
an elementary level) and invariably are disturbing to the other people
who have come to daven, is not such a substantial contribution to their
     And above all, when you bring your children to shul, bring them to
a shul where the adults act with reverence there.  The impression that
children get when watching others talk in shul is a very negative one,
certainly so if it's their parents that are thusly engaged.



From: <EDTeitz@...> (Eliyahu Teitz)
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 1995 12:45:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Children in Shul

A comment was posted about bringing children into shul to teach them the
beauty of davening, and that if we keep them out in their youth we are
to blame for their leaving the religion when they are older.

I have two comments on this post.

1. I hardly think that appreciation of davening or lack thereof is what
causes people to drift ( or run ) away from our religion.  I think it is
due in large part to impressionable people ( usually teenage or older )
being given mixed signals about the religion by their parents, teachers,
etc.  How do we expect our children to respect the authority of rabbis
when they hear the rabbi being ridiculed at the Shabbat table.  There
are many other ways in which we send confusing signals.  We preach the
importance of Shabbat, but do we do anything more than nap in the
afternoon.  Do we take time from our 'needed' rest to spend time
learning with our children?  Do we spend any time during the week
learning, where our kids can see us ( whether they learn with us or not,
if they see us doing it they understand it is important to us ).

There are many other areas as well, but I will mention only one, and
that is my second point.

2.  When I first started bringing in my son to shul ( when he was 2 ),
my wife and I spent a significant amount of time preparing him for what
he was going to see.  The Aron Kodesh, Torah, chazzan...and alot of
people totally ignoring the proceedings and talking with each other.  We
prepared him telling him that what they were doing was not davening, and
that we sit quitely in shul, do not run around making noise, rather we
take a siddur and daven.  ( We made a very strong impressino on him, for
when Purim came and he heard all the groggers he looked at me and asked
why I was making noise in shul! ).

The point I think is clear: why should I bring my child into shul when
he will learn exactly what I don't want him to see about davening.  My
father and I try hard to keep the noise down to a minimum in our shul,
and generally we are successful: our's is one of the quietest shuls I
have been in.  It is quiet, unfortunately, when it comes to singing as
well, which is another issue - that there are times to talk loudly and
times to be quiet.  We would do much better for our children to learn
these lessons, and then bring them into shul, rather than tarnish their
impressions by what generally goes on in shul



From: Annette Linzer <alinzer@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 1995 22:32:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Coeducation

     Aleeza Berger asks about students in Talmud-intensive schools
who aren't good at Talmud.  I have had 4 children graduate from the
same school Betzalel Posy attended (they also have a girls'
division) and one who is now entering 11th grade.  This school has
two parallel tracks for gemara and have had much success with boys
from the less advanced track making it into the higher track.  Many
of these boys who come to the school in 9th, 10th or 11th grade
with very little background.  The school fosters close
relationships between the rebbi's and students.  The students see
their rebbeim as role models and this feeling goes a long way in
encouraging the students in their talmud studies.  As Betzalel has
written in the past, this should in no way be taken to mean that
there are no discipline problems in the school, but nowhere near
what has been written about in the past on this list.

Annette Linzer


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 95 0:00:21 IDT
Subject: Small Children in Shul

In an earlier post I wrote:

> Regarding Alan Cooper's request for sources which discuss the presence
> of small children in the synagogue, see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 689:6
> ("It is a good custom to bring boys and girls under Bar Mitzva to hear
> the Megilla"), but see the Biur Halacha there starting "Minhag Tov
> Lehavi" where he limits this to children who are capable of behaving
> properly :-)

To which another poster responded:

> if we do not allow children to come when the are small and learn tefilah
> when they are impressionable, how can we cry when the leave when they
> are older and tell us that the religion means nothing to them.  there is
> the story of the shepard who whistled in shul on Yom kippur.  When
> everyone shushed him, the rabbi turned and admonished the congregation
> saying that the boy's whistle was the true tephelah.  We turn enough
> away, we turn enough off, we need to instill the love of tefilah from
> the youngest days.  (having said that, there is a point when youngsters
> need a break and should be allowed to leave so as not to interrupt the
> kavanah of others.  a small amount of good sense along with the wisdom
> of a sensative parent goes a long way!}  

Perhaps I should have quoted the Biur Halacha in its entirety.  So, in
my own free translation (all errors may be ascribed to me) the Biur
Halacha states:

"It is definitely the case that the Mechaber (the writer of the Sulchan
Aruch) intended only to include children who have reached the age of
chinuch (training - which is generally somewhere between ages 6 and 9
depending on the mitzvah being discussed - C.S.) because the smallest
children only cause confusion as the Magen Avraham wrote, and if [only
children of chinuch age are being discussed] then what is [meant by] "it
is a good custom" (the terminology used by the Shulchan Aruch - C.S.),
[since] by law he is obligated to train them in reading the Megilla or
in any event to hear [it] and as we stated earlier? And maybe [it would
be possible to train them] by reading for them in their homes, but in
order to give greater publicity to the miracle it is the custom to bring
them to the synagogue in order that they should hear it with the
congregation so that when they are grown they will also come to hear it
with the congregation."

If what the poster meant to suggest that it is "okay" to bring toddlers
to shul and to send them out when they make noise, as a father of bli
ayin hara five children aged 1 to 11.5 I must humbly disagree.  IMHO
there is no point in bringing a child to shul until the child is capable
of sitting through the davening for the amount of time for which s/he is
being brought to shul.  A child who comes to shul and is allowed to go
out and play whenever they become impatient (including children who are
sent to various "playrooms" which have become in vogue in the United
States over the past few years), will still be running out of shul at
the ages of 10, 11, 12 and 13 when there is *no* reason they should not
be able to sit through the davening.  Better that the child should only
be brought to shul (at the end if necessary) for the amount of time that
s/he can be expected to sit still than that the child should be
encouraged to go out whenever s/he gets restless.

I should add that one of the grandchildren of Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky told
me that Rav Yaakov zt"l held that children should not be brought to shul
before the age of six precisely for this reason.

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:


From: Gayle Statman <GAYLE_STATMAN@...>
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 95 07:42:15 EST
Subject: Re: Small Children in the Synagogue

Winston Weilheimer wrote:

>if we do not allow children to come when the are small and learn 
>tefilah when they are impressionable, how can we cry when the leave 
>when they are older and tell us that the religion means nothing to 
>them.  there is the story of the shepard who whistled in shul on Yom 
>kippur.  When everyone shushed him, the rabbi turned and admonished 
>the congregation saying that the boy's whistle was the true tephelah. 

That's great if the small children, like the shepard, understand where
they are and why.  I have trouble believing that the two-year old who
runs up and down my aisle during davening is learning tefilah.  I don't
think the 8-year old who comes in, often during the musaf shemonah
esrei, to chat with her mother (often interupting her mother's davening)
is learning tefilah.  Instead, these children are learning to disrespect
the sancticty of the synagogue.  And perhaps many adults in my shul
behaved the same way as children, as they engage in meaningless
conversation in the synagogue during the davening, often turning their
backs on the Torah to better talk to the people behind them.



From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 1995 00:26:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Well Rounded education in Jewish High school

On Thu, 27 Jul 1995, Aleeza Berger wrote:

>      Obviously, some of the boys (here I exclude girls) from high
> schools where many hours a day (six? more?) are spent on Talmud will
> have a better background in breadth of knowledge - Talmud knowledge. But
> they might know less about much else: math, Nach, English and Hebrew
> literature, Hebrew speaking.  As Betzalel says, the students from the
> day schools manage to catch up.  So what's the problem with the day
> school providing a well-rounded education, after which students are
> prepared for a career choice based on, perhaps, which subject they liked
> in high school?

      As I understand it, first of all, even if there were time in the
schedule many schools would not provide Hebrew Literature for their
students.  That's just an aside.
     Now, what Aleeza suggests is that the high schools provide a
general religious education covering an equal amount of all religious
fields and after high school, when a student has had a taste of
everything, he will be able to advance in the area of his greatest
     I would propose a different idea.  In elementary school the
children do generally get a taste of everything.  In Eitz Chaim of
Toronto (after which all Torah Umesorah school curriculums are modelled)
the children do get, to the exception of Hebrew Literature, a good dose
of Hebrew Language, Chumash, Nach, Gemara, Halacha, Jewish History.
What the administrators of the Yeshivos should do is get a good
evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the students before they
enter the school and those students that excell in other areas besides
Gemora, aside from teaching them Gemora as well, they should be
encouraged to spend time on the other fields as well.  I know myself
that in one grade in high school I was not particularly excelling with
my rebbi and therefore learned Gemora that year much less intensive as
the other students.  But as not to waste my time finished Nevi'im that
     This would mean that the school would have to have different
streams.  I'm not sure whether schools can handle that burden.  Also,
I'm not heavily involved in Jewish education at the professional level
and there might be good reasons why not to follow my suggestion and why
the present system is better.



End of Volume 20 Issue 82