Guiding b'nai mitzvah-aged congregants toward appropriate synagogue behavior.
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
Couple that with the fact that, in more cases than not, they attend
the service unsupervised, having been dropped off at the door by a
carpool. The end result is kids who receive reprimands, separations
and banishment from the synagogue.
"Ultimately, it's not the fault of the kids," said Norman A.
Samson, ritual director at Temple Israel. "We are not teach-
hey are 13 years old and there are 10 of them. They are
exuberant and talkative — and they are sitting right in
front of you at Shabbat services.
While you maybe wondering how they
could enter the sanctuary with cell phones, Palm Pilots,
paper, pens and food, you're not the only one. Many par-
Who Watching The Kids?
ents, teachers, rabbis, even kids already are discussing a need
"While there is never an excuse for rude behavior, going to
for young adults to improve their behavior at b'nai mitzvah
shul unsupervised leaves kids to their own devices, which
they will test," said Dr. Mark Smiley, headmaster at Hillel
They say the young people must increase their participa-
Day School of Metropolitan Detroit.
tion in the synagogue service and follow positive adult role
"To some degree, the times have created a situation
models. They also say the cause of inappropriate synagogue
kids attend services without parental supervision and
behavior goes far beyond the need to be social.
without a clear set of expectations," he said.
The kids may be bored and tired of weekly b'nai mitzvah
"Imagine what would happen if you took a large group
services or their time in synagogue may be reduced to a brief sit in
of kids and left them unsupervised in a classical music concert — or
the back row so they can leave early to attend a second service. They even at the White House," said Rabbi keuven Spolter of Young
may be in unfamiliar surroundings or may be there because the serv- Israel of Oak Park.
ice is the means to getting permission to attend a post-service party.
Far left: Chelsea Marks,
13, and Lainey Rubin, 12,
both of Farmington Hills,
in their seventh-grade
classroom at Adat Shalom's
Beth Achim Religious
Above: Adat Shalom stu-
dents Hannah Posen, 13,
Jodi Solway and Stephanie
Iovan, both 12, all of West
Bloomfield, talk about
b'nai mitzvah behavior.