Rabbi Ross. Thank you for all the work you put in to this blog. I’m having an issue, not with my children, but with other children. In Shul on Shabbos, there are many kids outside of the shul during davening or laining or the speech, and these kids range anywhere from 5 to 16 years old. They talk the whole time and it’s just wrong. What can I tell these children to convince them to daven inside the shul? Eliyahu – Location Redacted
The short answer is nothing. They are not your children, and therefore it’s not your job to get involved. If you really want to help, you can go to the Rav and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Maybe the Shul can hire someone to run a teen Minyan or youth groups if you don’t already have them. You can assist in making those arrangements by either securing the necessary finances or helping with the logistics.
I’m actually not a huge fan of youth groups, but if the kids are roaming the hallways, it’s certainly important to have structure. There are many Shuls that teach the children how to be “Chazzanim”, as well as the Halachos of Laining, Hagbah, Gelila and much more. Although children who Daven in Shul every Shabbos generally learn these skills, there are some children who can gain a great deal from these younger minyanim. To be brutally honest, there are also some children that should not be sitting (or fidgeting) next to their parents in Shul. In all these situations, a youth minyan is a great option.
The situation that you described, is unfortunately, a common one is certain communities. One of the reasons that I redacted the location that you provided, was that I felt it might constitute Lashon Hara. Most Shuls don’t have this issue, but there are a few in each community where this is, unfortunately, common. One father told me recently, “At least they’re in shul. It’s a step in the right direction.”
I respectfully disagree. It is certainly NOT a step in the right direction. You have your fourteen-year-old son spending most of the Shabbos davening outside in the hallway, loudly talking with his friends. There are those that would suggest it would be better if he stayed at home. I have mixed feelings about it, but parents should not be “OK” with the situation. I know I’m heading into dangerous territory here, but I don’t think the Rav of these shuls should ignore the situation either.
In order to deal with this serious issue, the community needs to approach it from three angles.
Hopefully, we can all work together to ensure that our children understand the importance of Davening in the Shul like the B’nai Torah they are.
Have a good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.