Time to Begin Again

Monster at shul, Simchat Torah, 2016As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we’ve started the Monster with Hebrew school at our shul.  He’s had some basic “religious school” through an after-school program at his regular school, but this year was time for us to get a little more serious with it.  He’s not had any objections to it so far, and the teachers have been telling us that he’s doing alright.

But part of the goal is also getting him more comfortable with coming to the building and being around celebrations, and… well, Simchat Torah is one of the easier times for him to be involved. Continue reading

Apples and Honey

Today was the second day of Rosh Hashanah for 5775.

This year, in Baltimore, the city’s public schools were open for the first day of the holiday, meaning that the Monster was in class.  The wife arranged for R to have a playdate with a friend from nursery school, and so… we actually got a day to sit in our actual seats in the congregation for a change.  (Well, as much as ‘we’ could, given that my wife’s vocal ensemble was performing with the cantor.)

However, today was a professional development day in Baltimore City’s schools, and we ended up with both children coming with us to synagogue. Continue reading

Cinnamon Bobcat

As another year’s High Holy Days starts to grow closer, obviously our thoughts start to turn back towards how to deal with the Monster and participation at synagogue.

(Now, my thoughts don’t just turn to this because we got our tickets for services on Saturday, but also because I had another occasion to be gabbai’ing, and because my in-laws were being honored for their fortieth wedding anniversary, my whole family came with me.)

We’re fortunate at our synagogue, as I’ve mentioned before on numerous occasions, to have a quiet room that’s well-situated so that parents can handle small children who aren’t up to participating in the services directly without missing the opportunity themselves to pray.  Because the Monster is… unpredictable, we tend to migrate immediately there, rather than trying to get seated in the main sanctuary where he might disturb folks if he starts making noise. Continue reading

A Matter of Faith

This is more of a “my failings” than “anything else” kind of post.

I’m not the most observant Jew, but I’d consider myself a decently-good one who tries relatively well to hew to the practices of Conservative Judaism.

For those of you who are long-time readers, you know that I’m a gabbai at my synagogue.  I spend a Saturday morning, every few weeks, up on the bimah at my congregation, helping to run the Torah reading.  I find it very rewarding – not perhaps as rewarding as I find reading a portion myself, but certainly involving less of my personal time at home trying to prep for participating in the service, and certainly less nerve-wracking when one bears in mind that I have extreme stage fright, even after reading Torah for nearly thirty years.

Continue reading

Joyful Noise

We don’t get a lot of opportunities to go to synagogue where it’s not going to matter if the Monster makes a lot of noise.  Simchat Torah is one of those occasions.

I mean, let’s face it.  The holiday’s all about dancing around with the scrolls, folks making noise and waving flags and singing and dancing… Continue reading

Shul Time

So last night, after Yom Kippur ended and we broke the fast, we came home, put the kids to bed, and settled in… with my tikun (Torah readers’ bible) and another plain-jane copy of Etz Chayim.

This coming Saturday, my wife’s reading Torah, in honor of the twentieth anniversary of her Bat Mitzvah. Continue reading

More of the Same

So, Rosh Hashanah starts tonight, and we’re back to the same old problem – what to do with the kids.

In past years, we’ve had babysitting at the synagogue, which has made what to do with the children easy.  Even easier, last year, the holidays were during the week, so we simply sent the Monster to school, and while R was too young to go to sitting, we could manage him in the quiet room. Continue reading