Children at CBI during the Days of Awe

Dear holy friends,

As the Days of Awe approach, I wanted to share with you an important message regarding children at CBI.

To those in our community who are parents: please bring your children to CBI during the Days of Awe!

We will provide childcare in our classroom on the first morning of Rosh Hashanah, on Kol Nidre night, and on Yom Kippur morning. In the classroom, in addition to various fun activities, we will provide childrens’ services (this year led by Leehe Shmueli and Heather Levy) at 10am on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur morning.

But we also want our congregational children to experience the “grown-up” service as they are able. We want them to hear the old melodies which tug at our heartstrings, and to learn the new ones we’re teaching; to thrill to the sound of the shofar; to experience the holidays’ themes of rejoicing, awe, and teshuvah.

Obviously a two-year-old has different needs and capabilities than a twelve-year-old. I leave it to each of you to determine how best to meet your child’s needs — and your own needs for prayer time and contemplation. But please know that your children are always welcome in our sanctuary.

And to those in our community who are not rearing children: I thank you in advance for your patience and your compassion with those who are nurturing the next generation of our community. I know that the shouts and cries of children are not always conducive to elegant serenity! But the voices of our community’s children may offer us a unique pathway into prayer.

In the synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, there was a young boy who accompanied his father to services on Yom Kippur. The boy couldn’t read the prayers in the machzor, and hardly had the focus to sit still, but something in him yearned to reach out to God. Late in the service, seized by some impulse he couldn’t explain, he withdrew his flute from his pocket and blew a sharp blast.

Many people were annoyed by the interruption. But the Baal Shem Tov saw a blessing there. He understood that the sound of the little boy’s flute — that wordless rapturous cry — reached the very Gates of Heaven and allowed all of their prayers to reach the Holy Blessed One.

May our childrens’ voices — squawks and laughter as well as overtired tears — help our prayers reach God on high during these most awesome of days.

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