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Sunday, September 23, 2007

What Ever Happened to Expectations?

Ariella has posted about "Another throw money at it solution" for talking in shul. Regular readers of my blog know that I don't believe in throwing money at (social) problems in hopes of fixing them (see Higher Pay for Shadchanim and Are These the Middot We Want to Encourage? ).

I'm suspicious of such "solutions" as the one referenced for a number of reasons. Primarily, I think that offering a reward for something that simply should be expected serves to lower the bar (In this case, a boy can only be rewarded if he wins a drawing: raffles are another practice I'm not particularly fond of).

At least in our home, decorum in the synagogue is just simply an expectation. Children who demonstrate appropriate behavior can continue to attend services for increasing periods of time and children who demonstrate inappropriate behavior will be promptly escorted out. Of course, this requires the attending parent to forgo his/her tefilla at the drop of a hat (or employ another plan), which unfortunately many parents are unwilling to do. While we do give plenty of praise for decorum, we see no reason to give a material or monetary reward.

(Just a note: Unfortunately, I witnessed-make that *experienced*-some of the most appalling behavior of a mob group of children on Yom Kippur while trying to take my children in to hear havdalah. Worse than the problems of misbehavior of children inside the sanctuary is parents who leave their children outside of the sanctuary to fend for themselves. Groups of barely supervised to unsupervised children with nothing of substance to keep them occupied, low expectations for behavior , and no follow through on whatever threats are weakly pronounced upon the sight of inappropriate behavior and will almost surely result in behavior of the lowest common denominator).

Another issue I have with rewards in general is the "tit for tat" that they encourage. Instead of a child pushing himself (or herself if this competition included girls), they end up doing the minimum to receive an A so to speak. Instead of a child competing with himself, he starts to compete against others and reasons, why bother doing x, y, or z if I get nothing out of it?

Lastly, while an outside competition might inspire Shmuel to change his behavior, it is probably most effective to inspire those who pray with Shmuel. There are certain minyanim we will not take our children to because the behavior we want them to emulate is found lacking. I believe decorum is best handled at the grass roots level, but always my thoughts are proven wrong and that the act of throwing money proves to be more successful than this armchair economist/parent predicts.

In short: I'm just not into the parenting/educational technique that piles on rewards. I don't care for lavish praise, especially when it is for something that should be a basic expectation. I don't think my children need a bag of sweets for showing up at shul for x amount of time. I don't think they need door prizes and raffles to get them in the door to learn Torah.

I do think there is a place for praise. I do think there is a place for short term rewards that get children moving in the right direction (a la honey on the letter of the Aleph Bet, potty training, etc).

And for a far better post than mine on rewards, see Mom in Israel on Cooperation and Rewards.

47 comments:

anonymous mom said...

How about my shul's recent pledge: "Be eligible to win an IPOD if you learn an hour" which combines two pet peeves: the money reward for learning an hour of Torah and the IPOD which in itself is a distancer and disconnecter tool not appropriate for young children (not even getting into what they are listening to). Expectations indeed.

miriamp said...

Probably why when my husband does take our oldest son to Motzei Shabbos Father-Son Learning, they almost always leave before the raffle. He wants to impress upon our son that they're for the Torah, not the prizes.

SephardiLady said...

An hour of learning for an IPOD (not something we need or want around our house either!)? Do you know how many hours I would have to work to be able to pay for an IPOD. The pay rate must be high in your community.

Thanks both for great comments. Agreed.

Mike S. said...

I rarely see a lack of decorum cause by children when the adults are demonstrating proper decorum.

Halfnutcase said...

talmud does mention that before a certain age it is perfectly ok to bribe a child to behave.

Children can't be expected to do many of the things they need to do for the right reasons, so therefore you bribe them, but eventualy and gradualy you take away the lolipops and then the children should be left doing the behavior anyway.

mlevin said...

We are bribed through out our lives. We go to work to earn money to sustain our lives and we strive for a better position to earn more money to make our lives more comfortable.

At the moment our shul is experiencing a baby boom. There are so many little children that it was almost imposible to hear rabbi's speach on Rosh Hashanah. These children enjoy coming to shul. Mr. G gives them candy and Mr. L brings games. Mr. B gives them chips and etc. They all play with each other downstairs and enjoy shul experience. When they become older they will have fond memories of going to shul. But children are children and they need to make noise and they need to run around. Usually they run upstairs to verify that parents are there and go back downstairs to play.

As far as IPOD, I like that idea, too. Many people who are not knowledgable in judaism are wary of going to shiurim. They need a push to get through that door. And IPOD could be that push. IPODs are not that expensive and most shuls can afford to buy one. And just think of a benefit of giving someone new to learning an IPOD loaded with shiurim on plethora of subjects

Chaim B. said...

For those who think rewards help learning I strongly recommend reading "Punished by Reward" by Alfie Kohn (or see some of the articles on his website alfiekohn.org). He may overstate his case a bit, but that is probably due to the degree to which people are convinced extrinsic rewards motivate learning.

frumhouse said...

My method is this - I simply don't take kids to shul who I know are not capable of davening nicely. I really don't believe in shul playgroups. Shul is a place that one comes to for prayer. That is it's main function to me. If there are concerts/carnivals/after shul simchas/kiddush that is a different story. I refuse to subject other congregants, myself or my children to a long davening where kids cannot be expected to sit for any length of time. That means that I often miss shul while my husband take the older ones with him - that's life.

Lazer B said...

I have a few comments on this
1) As far the ipod is concerned, I think that it does work in certain instances. Like mlevin said. Aish HaTorah has a yeshiva where they offered I think it was an iphone to come to them for a week. For someone like that, you do need strong motivators. However

2) My sons love to come to shul. My oldest is only 6, so they have yet to come to shul w/ me for all of Shabbos, but I have brought them for mincha here and there. It's acctually a treat for them. We basically witheld them from going until they were old enough to sit through whatever davening I bring them for. And now, they can't wait to go. In fact, just this morning, my son woke up early got dressed, and woke me up to ask if he can go to shul with me. And he was great the whole time there, as he understand that going is the treat itself. I just daven that it stays with him.

Anonymous said...

The night of Neila, in the middle of ma'ariv, a baby started shouting out, or talking, or soemthing like that, and not just once but a few times, to the point where a few people were shaaing. And this was in the womens section.

The Rav got up after davening, and basically explained to the kehilla that women don't generally get to shul, and Neila is one time they all try to be there. He then explained the halach to everyone, that if your baby calls out in the middle of shmoneh esray, you get up and take the child out, regardless of where you are. I kind of felt bad for the women, as she must have been embarrased, though I know it would have been much less had she just walked out before it interupted too many people.

Mike S. said...

Chaim B.: People who believe that an external reward can help motivate learning in children (and adults) include the Rambam. Intoduction to Cheilek, before he gets to the ikkarim. (It is after he lists the various views of the reward for tzaddikim, all of which he compares to lollypops (well, nuts, anyway) given to small children)

Tamiri said...

anonymous wrote: "I kind of felt bad for the women, as she must have been embarrased, though I know it would have been much less had she just walked out before it interupted too many people."

HUH? You feel BAD for her being embarassed? I would feel bad for he having little to know decorum/sechel/common sense. Why should YOU feel bad.... SHE RUINED NEILA. She should be ashamed. Don't feel bad for her. Hope she gets badly needed help.

Tamiri said...

Uch, it's late and my spelling (partly courtesy of Jewish Day School, the rest self inflicted) is going.
I meant to write I would feel bad for HER having little to NO decorum...... etc.

anonymous mom said...

As an educator, I do use rewards even with teenagers. As a parent, I use rewards as well. But our rewards must be appropriate and within certain parameters. The key is to start very, very young. I have found at home and in school that using rewards like "time" and "attention" actually work.
Examples:
In school: time with Morah--younger kids, a study session with the teacher--older kids, make up a test, quiz, question. My son's second grade teacher used to offer chances to guess how many jelly beans were in the jar. The reward was actually just a guess. At the end of a month, she would empty the jar and whoever's guess was closest won the contents. Remember, the more guesses you got, the higher your chances to guess correctly. Outdoor learning--older kids.
At home--a friend of mine prints up coupons with rewards such as:
breakfast with dad, choose the dinner that everyone will eat, choose the Shabbos treats, pizza with mom. These really work for them and did for us too.
IPODS are not appropriate rewards for children. Parents need to reassess the distancing and disconnecting affect of these devices--IPODS, Gameboys, etc. Our kids no longer speak to us or each other.
Shul--the commenter above has it right. Shul is a privilege. How you present it to kids when they are young sets the tone. If kids don't behave, they don't come. If they are 12, 13 and still not behaving which I have seen, the problem is unfortunately years in the making. Shul is not a babysitting service. Too often I see parents allowing Hefker behavior for years until their sons become of age to daven B'Tzibur or close to that age and then suddenly Tati begins to crack the whip. Not the way kids work.

SephardiLady said...

To me an IPod seems over the top (in addition to anonymous mom's commentary).

Growing up I remember there were parents who rewarded good grades by a family dinner out (that would be my parents) and parents that paid for each A a certain amount and for each B a lesser amount. The former seems reasonable to me, the latter over the top. A study would be interesting, but I don't remember any kid in AP classes whose parents were bribing. At a certain point, self-motivation needs to set in. And I think over the top rewards can eventually curtail that when effort to get material goods is more easily expended doing something else.

Chaim B. said...

Re: the Rambam - just because the Rambam thought this was true does not mean our educational metholdology should be frozen in time and ignore current research. The Rambam is not a din; it's just a suggestion based on what was 'scientifically' correct during his lifetime. My kids have a copy of one of the popular aleph-beis learn to read books at home that mentions in the intro that it uses only black letters on white background without color because this is the mesorah of our avos based on the torah being eish shechorah al gabei eish levanah (black fire on white). I don't think we need to be slaves to tradition for its own sake absent a halachic context or motivation.

editor@kallahmagazine.com said...

There is, certainly, a concept of mitoch shelo limshma ba lishma with respect to learning Torah. However, the goal should be to rise to learning lishma.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

i would like to see commentors on this thread identify whether they are parents or not. i think this is one of those topics you can't contribute to unless you've have first-hand experience.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

MIKE S.

"People who believe that an external reward can help motivate learning in children (and adults) include the Rambam."

iirc, you are taking the rambam out of context.

a) this was not HIS position. he merely stated what the reality was.

b) he wrote that in a philosophical context, not a pedagogical one.

c) he was listing different reasons why people observe mitzvot.

d) and as long as we are considering this from a philisophical perspective . . . according to him, this attitude of rewards (and punishment) is the antithesis of what one's motivation should be.

and even if he were writing from a pedagogical context, CHAIM B. is correct that we don't follow the traditional (jewish) pedagogical methods of previous generations blindly, even in instances that have textual basis.

Tamiri said...

(I am a parent and have been one for a looong time, though I have only boys and the girl part of things gets hazy at times)
In my son's Yeshiva junior high they have a rewards system. In addition to the regular work load of limudai kodesh and chol, there is an outside sponsor who is interested in having the boys learn mishnayot. I think this is leilui nishmat a family member. Every three weeks they have a "chidon" (as opposed to school mivchanim) and they are paid according to their grade. THIS IS VOLUNTARY, and as I wrote, in addition to a decent work load. I have not seen exactly how it works yet, my son has just participated in his first chidon. I don't know what the minimum grade is for a reward (I did hear a 60=60 shekels but I have to see if he gets a low grade, whether he's paid or not).
Is THIS proper incentive? I actually have no problem with this one since there is no "if (you do this)/ "then" (you will get that) involved. Kids know that if they don't study there will be no reward at the end. Is this like a bonus at work????

mother in israel said...

Tamiri--what if they neglect their regular schoolwork to earn this money?

Those of us who aren't parents can contribute to the discussion; we all know how we were raised. I was never, ever, rewarded by my parents for anything. They were always generous with my needs but not extravagant, and they were never tied to my behavior. I was never punished by my mother either (my father spanked me and I resented it terribly.) And while I have plenty of complaints about how I was raised, lack of reward/punishment was not one of them.

The best way to teach is by example, affection, concern, and appropriate boundaries.

Mike S. said...

Moah,

1) With regard to your first post, I have kids ranging from twenty somethings to 10. I have occasionally used bribery (and extortion) to get them to do things they should, primarily when they were young.

2) The Rambam describes the bribery as a practical method of teaching. He points out that one does that when the student is not yet capable of understanding the value of learning for its own sake. He claims that is what Chazal are doing when they describe varous physical rewards for mitzvot, rather than the purely spiritual reward that is the main point. In claiming so, he puts the imprimatur of Chazal on the technique.

It is true that the Rambam does not believe this is an appropriate motivation for the mature scholar; he quite harshly condemns adult talmidei chachamim who learn for external rewards. He does say that one must reach the point where one understands the intrinsic value of learning. neither the Rambam nor any other sensible person expects a 5 year old to have reached that level, however.

3) I do not believe any parent who tells me they never reward good behavior or punish bad behavior with some external stimulus. Ditto for any teacher of young children.

4) Of course external rewards have limits as motivators, and one ought to reduce their use as children age and develop greater understanding. For example, bribing a teenager to behave in shul strikes me as awful (although I have seen it.)

5) I agree completely that one ought to use the best pedagogical methods available rather than blind adherance to tradition. My maternal grandfather described his father's (his father was a talmid of the Tzemach Tzedeck who moved to the U.S. around the Civil War, I think) pedagogy as "Tatty, why do we eat in a Sukkah? Because if you don't I'll beat you." Needless to say it wasn't terribly effective.

mother in israel said...

Mike S.,

Do you think that a boring, uncaring teacher can keep a group of five-year-olds in their place even with a bag full of lollipops?

You may be right that parents do unconsciously use external rewards; the idea is very ingrained in our culture. I just don't believe that that is the main factor in motivating young children. They cooperate because they love their parents and they trust us to know what's best for them, so they want to imitate and please us. Regarding learning, they want to learn if they like the teacher/parent and the material is interesting. I'm just curious as to whether you consider love and concern to be an "external factor."

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

MOTHER IN ISRAEL:

"Those of us who aren't parents can contribute to the discussion"

i'm not 100% sure why i wrote that. anyone can have constructive input. nevertheless, i am still hesitant to take advice from non-parents (in the real non-blogging world). there is a big difference what one thinks they remember from their own childhood and acting as parent today.

my childless cousin once told me to do something with my son and i refused because i did not want to spoil him. "that's what children are for, to spoil them," she said. she was all upset with me, but she just didn't understand the practical ramifications of what she was encouraging me to do.

in any case, i am interested who here is a parent to see if there is any trend in the comments.

"appropriate boundaries"

i.e., punishments?

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

"Regarding learning, they want to learn"

i agree, at least when they are very young. this is what i see from my friends (they are ahead of me in numbers of kids and ages), as well as from my own son. they love to just learn. this is why i get very upset with the television or when i think the nursery is slacking. it is squandering such a great opportunity that gets lost by the time kids hit 3-4 grade, when i see the thrill and excitement of learning dissipating.

Anonymous said...

Is having a kiddush after minyan consedered a reward? I still remember having cake and jello and soda and grape juice after daavening as a kid. It was the reason I went to shul with excitement as a kid because we did not have soda at home.
Rewards are part of Judaism.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

MIKE S.

1) "I have kids ranging from twenty somethings to 10. "

well then you are way ahead of me in parenting experience. i just have one boy (almost 3).

"I have occasionally used bribery (and extortion) . . ."

so what is the line btw rewards, bribery and extortion

2) "he puts the imprimatur of Chazal on the technique."

fwir,rambam does mention this as a view of hazal, but does he give it his own imprimatur? i think he specifically mentions that this is "distasteful" and only gets worse as the child gets older. also, his whole point in that section was that "lo lishma" is an inferior mode of behavior (and not just for learning, but with all activities).

i have not seen this rambam inside since college. i will look at it again tonight or over the holiday.

"neither the Rambam nor any other sensible person expects a 5 year old to have reached that level"

then what is a five-year-old boy's helek in olam ha-ba based on? (god forbid)

"he quite harshly condemns adult talmidei chachamim who learn for external rewards."

this is one (and the more famous) of the two classic anti-kollel statements in the rambam

3) "I do not believe any parent who tells me they never reward good behavior or punish bad behavior with some external stimulus . . ."

neither do i


4) "Of course external rewards have limits as motivators, and one ought to reduce their use as children age and develop greater understanding."

from my limited experience, i see rewards as only a self-perpetuating phenomenon with no end in sight unless we finally get tough.

5) "I agree completely that one ought to use the best pedagogical methods available rather than blind adherance to tradition. My maternal grandfather described his father's (his father was a talmid of the Tzemach Tzedeck who moved to the U.S. around the Civil War, I think) pedagogy as "Tatty, why do we eat in a Sukkah? Because if you don't I'll beat you." Needless to say it wasn't terribly effective."

corporal punishment is what i was thinking about. also curricula and approriate ages for various material

but as a student of american jewish history with a focus on 19th c. religion, i am more interested in your grandfather. i've never met anyone jewish who can trace their family back so far in america (and certainly not one who knews a rambam). was he observant? did your family remain observant all the way through? where did he live? where did he daven (he was a student of the tzemah tzedek, but there were no nusach sefard shuls in america at that point; even east european shuls were still rare).

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

ANON:

"Rewards are part of Judaism."

to a great extend, rewards are part of life.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

"then what is a five-year-old boy's helek in olam ha-ba based on? (god forbid)"

just to clarify before i am attacked, i am asking within the context of the rambam

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

"i see rewards as only a self-perpetuating phenomenon with no end in sight"

also to clarify, i am speaking here from my own parenting experience

mother in israel said...

Moah wrote:
"appropriate boundaries"
i.e., punishments?

Not using rewards and punishments does not mean letting kids do whatever they want. If they are in a dangerous situation or harming someone we physically remove them. In every situation, we talk to them and explain the consequences of their actions. We don't always do it on the spot, especially if we are having a conflict about something because they won't be aren't able to hear us while everyone's emotions are running high.We save it to talk about at a more appropriate time. At least that is the ideal I strive for. It would be easier if I had started earlier.

Halfnutcase said...

(he was a student of the tzemah tzedek, but there were no nusach sefard shuls in america at that point; even east european shuls were still rare).

ashkenazic shuls were virtualy non-existant at this time, almost all shuls were sefardic, and a couple of english shuls.

These same shuls were eaten by the reform movement due to lack of availability of traditional rabbanim from europe and other centers of learning.

Mike S. said...

I can't say anything about where my great grandfather davened, as my grandfather was the youngest of 7 surviving chlidren (he had nieces and nephews older than he), and my great grandfather died while he was still young; all that I know is mostly from listening to my grandfather (who has also long since passed on) and to a lesser extent my mother. At least in my grandfather's time it was somewhere on the Lower East Side, but by then the immigration from Eastern Europe was in full swing. Neither my grandfather nor those of his siblings who were young enough for me to know remained religious, although my grandmother came from a family active in the early Conservative movement (and its predecessors) (I think they must have been here by the 1880's also, although I am not completely sure.) And my grandfather went along to some extent. He could still recite kiddush ba'al peh into his 90's though. I think some of his older sisters remained frum, but none of their descendents that I ever met (a relative small number) were frum.

I only know that my great-grandfather was a talmid of the Tzemach Tzedeck because I have a (largely faded beyond my ability to make out) manuscript of a book or collection of notes he had taken from the latter's lectures.

ora said...

Tamiri (going back to your earlier comment)
Don't you think you're being a little hard on the lady with the baby? For one thing, who said she "ruined" neilah? Disrupted, yes, ruined, probably not.

Also, try to put yourself in her shoes: Neilah is such an intense prayer, it's very very hard to get the feeling you get in neilah in any other way. Perhaps she's a first time mom and just couldn't imagine giving it up, maybe the baby was asleep/content when she first came in to pray, etc.

There was no need for the rabbi to say what he said in front of the entire congregation!! Especially not after prayers had ended and his announcement did no practical good. He could have talked to her privately, or could have put up a sign at some later time (sukkot, for example) mentioning that all parents should take kids out if they start making noise.

Finally, I brought my baby to neilah and she was fine. At one point she started to fuss, and I turned for the door, at which point the woman next to me, instead of glaring or "shush"ing, took off her necklace and gave it to my baby, giving her an excellent form of entertainment for the last 20 minutes of the prayer. The baby was happy, I was happy, and personally I think it's a much better solution than announcing the problem in front of the whole shul.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

MIKE S.

My background is working with rare books and manuscripts, so I love to hear about these items. Your manuscript sounds like a real gem. It has both sentimental value and real historical value. If it is as you describe it, I hope you are storing it properly and if you have financial resources you should consider conserving it. (BTW, at about the time your great grandfather was in America, the Tzemach Tzedek also had a cousin there, R. Hyam Zvee Sneersohn)

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

MOTHER IN ISRAEL:

"In every situation, we talk to them and explain the consequences of their actions . . . It would be easier if I had started earlier."

at what age do you think this can be started? is a 3-year-old capable of this type of abstract logical comprehension? there is some transductive reasoning (if x -> y now, then x -> y always), but i'm not sure if it is abstract or based on experience.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

HALF NUT CASE:

"ashkenazic shuls were virtualy non-existant at this time, almost all shuls were sefardic, and a couple of english shuls."

FWIR, only one Sephardic (Spanish-Portuguese) shul was successfully established in America after the Revolution (in New Orleans in the 1820s?). There was one unsuccessful attempt in Baltimore in the 1850s (more to come in post on my blog). All other shuls established after the Revolution were Ashkenzazic, following either the German, Polish, Dutch or French-Alsatian variety. These were all Orthodox, though many of them slowly (and I stress slowly) veered into the Reform camp. (The first shul established from scratch as a Reform institution was Chicago’s Har Sinai in 1842; then came NY's Emanu-El, though it was very traditional at first.) Other shuls continued to be established as Orthodox institutions.

The first East European (“Russian”) shul was established already in 1852 ("Beth Hamidsrash" on the Lower East Side); it too was Ashkenazic. This was followed by other Russian shuls (two more in NYC alone by 1860); I’m pretty sure these were all Ashkenazic and that nusach Sephard (i.e., hassidic rite) shuls are from a bit later; this is why I was curious if Mike knew where his ancestor davened.

"These same shuls were eaten by the reform movement due to lack of availability of traditional rabbanim from europe and other centers of learning."

There were other complex factors that tipped the scales in favor of Reform in America. Also, the presence of rabbonim in Europe didn’t help stem the tide there of Reform, hasklah, socialism, etc. (or non-ideologic non-observance in general).

mother in israel said...

Moah,

A 3yo can understand that his actions hurt someone, are dangerous, etc. It doesn't mean he will be able to control himself all the time. I think it's worth explaining even before 3 on a very simple level. Even if they don't understand it all, they will start to internalize the message.

Mike S. said...

Ari,

Do you know if there is some way I can find someone capable of reading the manuscript and determining whether it might be of scholarly interest. I spoke to a librarian at a local college, who offered to estimate the monetary value, but I have no interest in selling it, so I did't bother.

Tamiri said...

ora said...
Tamiri (going back to your earlier comment)
ORA, I was responding to "Anonymous said...
The night of Neila, in the middle of ma'ariv, a baby started shouting out, or talking, or soemthing like that, and not just once but a few times, to the point where a few people were shaaing. And this was in the womens section." In case you missed that post that I was referring to.
ORA, you then go on to write:
"Don't you think you're being a little hard on the lady with the baby? For one thing, who said she "ruined" neilah? Disrupted, yes, ruined, probably not.

Also, try to put yourself in her shoes: Neilah is such an intense prayer, it's very very hard to get the feeling you get in neilah in any other way.

ORA, are you serious or just naive? What you write applies to EVERYONE - the have a right to stand in shul and not be bothered by disruptive children, don't they?

ORA you then write "Perhaps she's a first time mom and just couldn't imagine giving it up, maybe the baby was asleep/content when she first came in to pray, etc."
In my book, that means she's just plain selfish, which is often the case with mom's who insist on doing what they want, when the want, and to heck with the rest of the world.

Really, I don't think my response was being "a little hard on that woman", rather, I think SHE was being hard on the zibbur. I think that if more people stopped being so "nice" about things (and then, of course, talking behind people's backs) then things would look a lot different. Years ago mothers would not DARE disturb the tfilla, or they would have risked the wrath of all the old ladies around them.

Halfnutcase said...

tamiri, you're judging her rather harshly. It does not mean that she is selfish. Babies can be unpradictable in this regard, and sometimes are easy to quiet and sometimes not so easy to quiet.

it is perfectly reasonable for her to come to shul. Personaly I'm happier to see that children feel welcome in shul, and do not mind them running and playing a little bit, as long as they are not to loud, and the babies, as long as it is not durring krias hatorah or something like that, does not bother me when they cry out, although It bothers me when they are left unsoothed and just left to cry for reasons entirely unrelated to decorum in davening.

Look, babies are part of life, and their mothers also have a right to be in shul when they can. There are more than a couple of legit reasons for them to be there.

There are kids in our shul who when they were a certain age (about three) would come in to shul, and would sometimes hop around on the stairs up to the bimah and the dias, and they didn't make alot of noise. Personaly I was generaly so busy with my davening that I didn't even notice them, and I'm ADHD (look at the airplane!).

So I really think that you're being to uptight about the tamiri. Yes there is a certain line which needs not to be crossed with noise in shul, although I'm much more upset with adults who talk durring shul that with babies to bable a little. We can all be a little bit more tollerant, and a little more accepting, without actualy disturbing the actual decorum. There is a line between a simple frustrating upset, and actualy disturbing the shul, and this doesn't sound like she crossed it to me.

having the children in shul is a sign of life and vibrancy that should be celebrated.

Ora said...

Tamiri--
Even if she was as selfish as you seem to think (I'm still not at all convinced), why on earth would the rabbi need to embarass her like that? If public humiliation were an acceptable response to "sins" like having a noisy baby, wouldn't some rabbi have mentioned that by now? Instead they all say it's important to give tochaha in a pleasant and private manner.

Like I said, I'm glad things are different in my shul. I see no reason why women with no children/ grown children should express "wrath" instead of understanding. I sincerely hope I won't respond angrily to babies in shul when I (b'ezrat Hashem) am old.

moah kemo said...

MIKE:

consult either a COMPETENT librarian in a good judaica library, e.g., JTS, or YU (in the manuscript/rare book division?), or an academic who works in this particular field

mo'ah kemo efro'ah said...

MOTHER IN ISRAEL:

too late with this one. hopefully we'll be more careful next time around.

mo'ah kemo efro'ah said...

HALFNUTCASE:

"having the children in shul is a sign of life and vibrancy that should be celebrated."

i've davened in too many dying shuls to appreciate the truth of this statement. about a year ago i went to my grandmother for shabbat. we took my then 20-month old child to shul and the 20 (at most) mitpalelim (incl. women) were so happy to have him make noise. it was the first time they heard the noise of a baby in the shul in more than 15 years.

TAMIRI:

don't get me wrong. i'm not saying kids should have a free for all. but there should certainly be some leeway, particularly at early ages. shuls that don't welcome babies will later regret it. they become large halls with nothing more than memorial plaques.

personally, i've been taking my son to shul since he was a few months old. (he is now 3.) on the rare occasion he becomes disruptive i remove him. if anyone ever told me that i shouldn't bring him because he disturbs them (or tried to shaa him) i would tell them to mind their own business, as he far better behaved and quieter than the vast majority of adults in the shul.

Charlie Hall said...

"The first shul established from scratch as a Reform institution was Chicago’s Har Sinai in 1842"

I think you are referring to Baltimore's Har Sinai, founded in that year as a Reform congregation. There had been at least one Reform congregation earlier, in Charleston, SC, but that congregation had previously been Orthodox (and had Sefardic roots).

'The first East European (“Russian”) shul was established already in 1852 ("Beth Hamidsrash" on the Lower East Side); it too was Ashkenazic.'

I think that shul is today the oldest Ashkenazic Orthodox congregation in America. There had been about two or three dozen Ashkenazic congregations founded before then in New York alone (starting with Bnai Jeshurun about 1825) but not a single one of them is Orthodox today. The first Ashkenazic congregation in America was Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, founded in the 1790s. It is now Reform.

"due to lack of availability of traditional rabbanim from europe and other centers of learning"

While there were some learned people before him, the first rabbi with legitimate semichah to settle in the United States was Rabbi A. J. Rice, who settled in Baltimore in 1840.

"i've never met anyone jewish who can trace their family back so far in america"

I know some converts with ancestors who arrived in America in the 17th century.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...

Dr. Hall:

yes, yes and yes.

"I know some converts with ancestors who arrived in America in the 17th century."

now that's just cheating