Transforming Seating Problems into Chesed Opportunities

Despite having a pretty good awareness of the issues involved in Shul seating on Shabbos, a few years ago we discovered we still had some issues. Not all guests were being accommodated in an optimal fashion. Instead of entering a denial phase, we embarked on a simple plan to deal with the issue.

The Shul now has three seating Gabbais, situated on both sides of the Shul. When a guest comes into a section, the Gabbai performs a quick visual check for an available seat and then welcomes and escorts the guest to the seat. When the proper attention is given during the first 30 minutes of davening it works beautifully. Those involved are willing to sacrifice some part of the first 30 minutes of davening to accommodate the guests.

On a past Shabbos, a simcha brought a higher number of guests to the Shul. The high level appreciation shown by the guests as they were escorted to their seats illustrates that this proactive seating process is superior to a passive, let the guests sit where they want approach. One of the Gabbais mentioned that this Chesed felt so right.

On one level, this was a small change which was enacted with little fanfare. But on another level it transformed the occasional seating problem into a situation with multiple Chesed opportunities every Shabbos. Shuls were built for these types of positive transformations.