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Young Kids & Worship – How Does Your Schul Include (or exclude) Young Children and Families?

Hi All! My conservative schul is currently in the process of evaluating its worship practices and the topic of incorporating young families came up. We are exploring ways to better incorporate and welcome families with young kids to participate in main services.

At present, our schul typically has three service options on Saturday mornings–(1) a traditional service in our main sanctuary, (2) a toddlers service in a separate location, and (3) a family minyan in a different location (K through 6th grade). All three services move along at their own pace and convene together in the main sanctuary to conclude services with all the kids on the B’mah to sing Adon Olam. While this arrangement works for some, it has led to generational divides and a feeling of two schuls.

Congregants in the main sanctuary service have expressed a variety of views about incorporating families into worship, ranging from concern about the dislocation of families from traditional worship to concerns about young children disrupting prayer. We have quite a large contingent of families with young kids (newborn through 3rd grade) in our schul, and while everyone finds them adorable there are some folks who are less than understanding of the kid who needs to move around or the young child who is not wholly silent during the amidah or mourners kaddish.

I am on a working group tasked with thinking of ways to shift culture to embrace families in the main sanctuary while also respecting the two competing concerns expressed above. I am posting here hoping to gain insight into how other communities have tackled this issue.

Some ideas floated are as follows:

(1) A junior congregational choir that will help lead either Friday evening or Saturday morning services, along with a family shabbat dinner or kiddush luncheon.

(2) A “pray ground” space, with toys and prayer specific items for young kids located at the rear of the main sanctuary.

(3) Learning services dedicated to inter-generational teaching of prayer.

I would welcome others to share (1) whether your schul embraces young kids in services, (2) if yes, how do you incorporate young children and families in main services?, (3) how does your schul handle concerns about kids being kids (moving around, or occasionally making noise).

Thanks in advance for your kind and patient responses.

submitted by /u/ClassicStorm
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Source: Reditt