With Rosh Hoshana about a month away, you’ve already received your Yomim Noraim seat reservation form. And if you’re a typical Shul member, you might drive the seating committee crazy by waiting till the last possible minute to send it in. Let’s take a look at some issues that make Yomim Noraim seating so stressful.
Most people take their Yomim Noraim davening seriously. People want a group of seats that will work for the men and the women in their family. Since all Yomim Noraim seats are usually pre-assigned and most families want to sit together, some people will be moved from their regular seat. The seating committee has to juggle and judiciously decide who will move and who will stay, who will smile and who will complain. In fact one of the most anticipated events of the year is when the seating chart is posted.
Two rules your Shul may want to consider publicly announcing is setting the minimum age for pre-assigned seats (eight or nine might make sense) and that girls under Bat Mitzvah will not be assigned to the choicest seats in the women’s section (usually the first row or rows).
The second issue is cost. Shuls that are member-funded often draw their fees from three main sources: membership dues, a yearly dinner/melava malka/breakfast and Yomin Noraim seats. Because they’re an important revenue source, Yomim Noraim seating charges can be more complicated than the IRS Tax Code. A Shul has to decide the price per member, family discount pricing and the price for guests, married children, grandchildren, non-members, families of non-members and pets (just kidding, most Shuls allow pets in for free). Many Shuls also try to encourage members to pay old obligations during the seating process.
You’ll be spending a lot of time in Shul on the Yomim Noraim and your seat is important, but it’s a good time of year to overlook any seating slights, try not to argue about the fees if you’re accurately charged, and get your reservation forms in early, even before the deadline.