One of the most important things my wife ever did was to insist that our children would attend church with her. I was not a Christian, and at first objected to her taking our daughter to church. She gave me the option to take our daughter to Shul with me, but I wasn’t interested in going at the time, so I had no leg to stand on when she started taking Courtney to church. As we had more kids, she faithfully took all of them to church, by herself, every Sunday. She would usually sit down in front near the chancel so the kids could see what was going on, and they were engaged with the worship service.
It seems that they survived, and St. John’s survived all my kids sitting down in front during the worship service. And I am so glad that they all still attend faithfully, and are now bringing their children to church.
For years our congregation prayed for more young families with children. God has answered those prayers and we have a bunch of kids coming to church now. Sometimes they dance during the worship music, sometimes they sing during the liturgy, and sometimes they cry and drop things, need changed and fed during the service. And sometimes people are disturbed by the kids in church. And that is what is most disturbing. Children in church are a great blessing and are the future of the church. So I always encourage those who are disturbed to help parents with their children and to help the children understand the worship service.
This month is Rosh HaShanah. In a local synagogue’s invitation to High Holy Day services was this admonition–“PLEASE!!! Refrain from bringing young children to Shul on Rosh Hashanah, especially during the times that the Shofar is blown. The Mitzvah requires and [sic] extreme quiet to facilitate its fulfillment. As children will be children, parents need to anticipate that even from he most well behaved child, an ever-so-slight noise may compromise the necessary decorum.”
The Jewish community has a lot to be concerned about during the High Holy Days. There are always threats against synagogues during this season, and in light of several attacks, regular Holocaust-denial leafleting and anti-Jewish rhetoric after the recent war in Gaza, synagogues are careful and hire security, get police protection and generally put themselves on alert. For a community of people that traditionally cherish children, what a shame that for the sake of decorum and the keeping of a Mitzvah, they have to be concerned about children too! May we never cherish decorum so much that we would discourage children from participating in the worship of God.