This is the one bumper sticker I have on my car. And while I don’t consider myself divine, I do pride myself on doing more than kvetching. I try to put my energy into change (or has that word lost all meaning?)

As I mentioned in the comments of my last post, I wrote a letter to the Board of Directors of our synagogue detailing my concerns. It went something like this:
Typically when I attend services with my children, we come very late in the services so we are not in the sanctuary for longer than they can manage with good behavior. This week, because I wanted to attend ____’s bat-mitzvah, we arrived quite early. Which meant we needed to take some breaks in the hall.

To be frank, I was disgusted by the behavior of children in the halls. The kids were running and shouting as if the whole building were a playground. I myself told a few children (not my own) that they needed to stop running, but it feels that relying on random adults, or the children’s own parents, to manage behavior, is not working. I think the synagogue needs to develop a standard that the community can agree on for what is and isn’t allowed, and figure out a way to uphold those standards. I, for one, do not want to consider shul, of all places, a somewhere I have to worry about what bad influences my daughters are being exposed to. Right now I feel that I am fighting a battle I will eventually lose to keep my own children’s behavior in line with my expectations, when they see other children behaving like, well, vilde chayas. Even though we love being a part of ___, I would rather find another shul than have my own children develop a sense that this is how one behaves in synagogue.

I would be happy to contribute to a group effort to address this, but I think it needs to be addressed community-wide and considered by the leadership.

Do you think I was too harsh? In any case, I’ve been delighted by all of the feedback I received from you, my readers. I received a very positive response from the Executive Director, who said she herself had left shul early because of the din. And I received a call from the Rabbi today asking me to meet with him and the Education Director. 

Since you’ve been generous with your comments thus far, I’m asking for a little more help. Does your house of worship have any articulated rules about unsupervised children? If so, what structures to you have in place to help inform people of the rules, and uphold those rules? At what age do children outgrow child care in your community, and where can children who have outgrown child care go, if anywhere, other than the main sanctuary?

Thanks to all!

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