Wednesday, September 11, 2013

High Holiday Options with Toddlers

This year was our second high holidays with our Exuberant Girl.  She's just over one year of age, totally a toddler. Running around, trying everything, though still baby enough to stick everything in her mouth.

Since she attends a Jewish daycare at the local JCC (which is actually a Chabad, but more on that later), her entire school was closed for Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur.  Since we always take off for at least the first day of Rosh Hashana, and all day for Yom Kippur, this wasn't to much of a difficulty.  The problem comes in when we try to decide how to celebrate together as a family.

Back when EG was a tiny baby, Working Dad and I split time, and he went for some of it, and I went for some of it.  I was breastfeeding, so in some ways, that made it easy.  In other, there weren't too many opportunities for tesuvah.

This year, EG is old enough to be alert, active and possibly participating.  The way I see it there are three options:

Option 1:  Hire a babysitter, leave the child at home and go to Shul by yourself.  This could be as easy as leaving the baby with a grandparent, or hiring someone else.  There are some out there who go this route.  Pros: You have more time to center yourself, find clarity, participate with more kavanah than you might if you had your child in tow.  Cons:  You aren't contributing to your child's religious education, nor are you exposing them to the congregation.  You may also be spending money on a holiday, which is certainly not following halacah

Option 2: Kids services at a shul.  You and the kids are in the same place, with adult services in one space, and a children's appropriate service in another.  Pros: You are all in it together, not leaving anyone at home.  Cons: Usually someone has to stay with the child, or in programs where you don't, you usually have to pay for someone else to watch the child.  Additionally, the children's programming runs the gambit from babysitting, to having a torah service, so you don't know what you are getting.

Option 3: A joint multi-generational service.  Keep the kids with you, and all pray together.  Pros: You are all together, you get to participate as a family, joining together and being a part of the religious education.  Cons: You may not get the connection you want, doing diaper changes, and trying to stay engaged with your toddler.

 So, what did we do, where do we stand?  And what are our options in the South Bay?

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