Kid-centered shabbat

This week has been a little crazy, as I’ve been covering for a colleague, and taking care of an inpatient team at the hospital.  Usually, this would be a two-week  or a four-week rotation for me, but because I’m just covering until the next attending physician takes over, it’s only 9 days – last sunday through next monday.  But, with other things planned at work, and a busy home schedule of activities, it’s been a bit of a juggle.

Luckily, we ended the week with only two patients on our “service”, and I was able to get in a swim before heading home.  I was in a hurry, as we all needed to be at the synagogue by no later than 6pm because S was to be leading some of the singing during the evening service, along with his friends and fellow-students at Hebrew School (Kindergarten through 2nd grade).  I wasn’t sure if he knew the songs, and I hadn’t had a chance to review them with him, so I was crossing my fingers.

Dad and I touched base as I was leaving Baltimore for the drive home, and he was going to go to the synagogue, where J already was, as his preschool is there, and I would fetch S from his after-school program and bring him over there.  S and I managed to get there at about 6:15pm, which allowed him some time to get snacks that were offered before the service.

We went in, and S sat with his friends in the front row.

J, of course, sat with Dad and me, in the second row, close behind S.

The cantor started the service.  About 5 minutes into it, she invited the kids up for Hiney Ma Tov (“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together” – Psalm 133).  To my delight, S seemed to know this one pretty well (it was also the only one I could remember from the email reminder that was sent out, so we had gone through it once or twice on our way from his school to the synagogue).

Rabbi Abramson read a story to the kids in the middle of the service.  The story involved an increasing number of barn animals making various noises – those noises supplied by the kids – and S got into his overly-extraverted performance persona with lively (and loud) renditions of chickens, roosters, goats, and a cow.  J sat on my lap, and quietly bleated like a goat.

The last song that the kids sang with Oseh Shalom Bimromav (“The One who makes peace in his high places shall make peace upon us and upon all of Israel and we say amen” – part of the liturgy).  None of the kids seemed to remember this one, but about half-way through, most of them joined in.

S got more and more hyped up as the evening progressed, and we had to hurry home before things got totally out of hand…

This morning, I was leading my second official “Tot Shabbat” service, at 11am.  I was up very early, thanks to J, who wanted to wake up at 6:30am!  He has been hard to wake up every school day this week, but all of a sudden, he’s wide awake much too early.  I coaxed another hour of supine semi-slumber out of him, but then gave up and got dressed, got him dressed, and headed downstairs for the morning routine.  Since we were so very early, we pulled out the “exsabation game” (a paleontology game, with a block of clay embedded with plastic “bones” to form a Tyrannosaurus Rex after digging them out with tools provided).  S and J both worked on it for awhile, and then we all got excited as the first bones were found.  This wasn’t our first attempt at this game.  It was a gift for S on his birthday 2 months ago.  We had opened it up a few weeks ago, and worked on it for awhile, but no bones were emerging, and the boys got bored with it.  But, now, it was getting exciting!  Of course, then I had to tell them to pack it up, and wash the clay off their hands to go to the synagogue in time for Tot Shabbat.  S didn’t join us, as he had a friend’s birthday party to attend.

We got to the synagogue 1/2 hour before Tot Shabbat was to begin.  And the room where we usually hold the service was – locked!!  I scrambled around, with the help of a fellow congregant, trying to find the key.  No luck.  I then went to plan B, and tried to get the library fixed up to have the service.  And, five minutes before the service was to start, dear husband came down the hall saying that a different room was set up, and it was open and everything was ready.  Whew!

I had planned to add a couple of new songs to the service, as I’ve taken it over.  We managed to add one.  I’m still learning the flow of the service, and so I stumbled a bit over some of the timing, and pages.  And, we were given some new kids service prayer books in our new digs, and I was trying to incorporate those, as well.  So, it could have gone more smoothly, but, all in all, I was happy with it, and beginning to feel more excited about taking this on (I had been deeply regretting saying “Yes” when asked by the previous leader to take over the reins).

Thanks to that leader’s daughter, who helped me through today, and kept me on track when I threatened to skip major parts that the kids like (like puppets!!).

I get to try again next month (this is a monthly gig through the school year).  So, I’ll strive for perfection, as in all things!  And settle for the OK.  That’s fine.  A major lesson that working with kids teaches:  OK is just fine.

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