Jewish · slice of life

Finding Her Voice in Synagogue #sol16

Last March, I wrote about my heart feeling heavy after going to synagogue with Isabelle since she seemed unable to participate. While Isabelle has been participating more at our synagogue in the past year, she still seems unengaged most of the times we take her to services.
But today we went to an Orthodox synagogue in town since her religious school teacher was leading the kids’ service. I figured it would be a good change of pace for us. And it was! Even though the setting was new, Isabelle seemed at-ease since her teacher was there. I was floored watching Isabelle’s level of participation in the Pre-K/Kindergarten services. She sang prayers like Modeh Ani, Sh’ma/Va’ahavta, and Adom Olam. She even did the hand motions her teacher taught her and her peers in class. When it was time for a story, she left my side without hesitation to sit on the floor with the other kids. I sat – alone and astonished – marveling at how different she was today.
I’m not about to switch to an Orthodox synagogue (I’m an Egalitarian Conservative Jew.) as a result of today. Rather, I’m going to keep today’s experience top of mind, especially the next time I find myself in our synagogue with an unengaged kid. In the right place, Isabelle does just fine. More than fine… she does great!
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21 thoughts on “Finding Her Voice in Synagogue #sol16

  1. Sounds like a lovely experience for both of you. I’m curious–were there other service differences that might have accounted for the difference in her level of engagement, or was the primary difference the presence of her teacher? (I’m revealing my synagogue ignorance–which actually spreads far and wide to accompany other faiths as well.)

    1. The only difference I can think of is that she sees her teacher twice a week and she goes to that service once a month. Granted, she’s been going to the once a month service and she is one and a half or two years old, but perhaps it’s the frequency and the repetition of the other prayers in school that made her so successful yesterday. I’m not sure.

  2. It’s a testament to her teacher and just how comfortable she is with her. I think it’s so great and reassuring to see that as a parent – to know our little ones are really ok!

  3. I love your line about her leaving your side and you sitting “alone and astonished.” While it is one of those moments that takes your breath as a mom just a little bit, it is a good thing. Sounds like Isabelle had a good day!

  4. Whew! Love when moms get a bird’s eye view into what their children can do when in the right setting. As a mom, I’ve had moments like these, thanks for taking me back to those moments. Congrats Isabelle, you wowed your mom!

  5. Good for Isabelle! You might just have to bring her teacher to synagogue with you! It is important to think of the many different things that engage kids – in school as well as the rest of life.

  6. It is hard to engage in the unengaging! It was great for you to see this through her eyes. Sounds like an opportunity for you to add a layer for children in your synagogue…

    1. Believe it or not, the service for under 6 yr olds at our synagogue was revamped about three years ago. It is more interactive and age-appropriate now. Isabelle likes to go, but she rarely participates. And now that I see that she can, it makes me wonder WHY.

  7. Yay Isabelle! I wonder if this is the beginning of witnessing her Faith Journey. I’m learning as a Mama that my youngest son has very different preferences than I do in regards to worship. It was a piece of parenthood that I had to slow down and explore a bit.

  8. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to stand back and watch your child bloom. I am reminded that engaging in life is often about relationships.

  9. Great post, Stacey! It makes me yearn for synagogue. I am thinking of joining. So wonderful for Isabelle – seems like she really likes her teacher! So great that you all attend together!

  10. It is so exciting when our little birds stretch winds of their own and we are privileged to see their first fluttering flight!

  11. This gives me hope! Church this morning was rough (to say the least) with our preschooler. So glad she did so well for you! What a great experience for both of you!

  12. Maybe this was just the beginning of a whole new level of understanding and engagement for her. I enjoyed hearing not only about her participation but also how wonderful it was for you! We moms need these little moments to marvel!

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