It was at a membership meeting of over 15 years ago. A member was complaining about the fact that sometimes the kids in the Shul get a little wild and the parents need to assume responsibility for the behavior of their children. It was a legitimate position, which most Shul members would agree on. However the complaining member went over the line and said something to the effect of ‘Somebody has to watch the “stinkin kids”‘. It was probably the most memorable phrase in membership meeting history, but the attitude was rejected and I’m sure even the complaining member wishes he could recall that phrase.
This Simchos Torah we had one of the best and strongest Hakafos in Shul history. There was lots of joyous singing and dancing, everybody behaved appropriately – it was fantastic. And at the heart of it all were many of those kids from 15 years ago, who choose to spend their Simchos Torah in the Shul instead of the Yeshivos, because we rejected the “stinkin kids” appellation, and made great efforts to make the teens and younger children feel comfortable, while at the same time keeping the play at appropriate levels.
There was a time when the Hakafos in our Shul were not so strong and consisted mainly of men doing the Yeshiva shuffle as they tried to make the Hakafos as short as possible. But for the past number of years they’ve been getting stronger and stronger thanks to the next generation.
We still have work to do in this area, and probably always will, as we try to encourage Shul attendance among the young, while at the same time curtailing inappropriate behavior. I’ll post some things we’ve seen work in the future, but today it’s a day of appreciation for the wonderful contribution our kids made to the entire Shul’s Simchos Yom Tov.