“It’s Shabbat doo doo doo doo” sang the Maccabeats and their pint-size co-singers on their latest music video, Shabbat Baby Shark, throwing out beats on challa, tasty Shabbat fare, and nap time. That last one a surprise. Kids don’t do naps, more on that later. , Viral clips are total earworms, but letting your hair down to its beat, and learning the words will make sure you’re doing your job as a responsible parent - embarrassing your child.
Aside from that, as kids grow up, Shabbat isn’t a kindergarten party anymore and families, youth groups and communities are recognizing that children need a place in their own neighborhoods. Informal games and groups are formed naturally and effortlessly, while structured youth programming is just the ticket for Shabbat afternoons. Because, Maccabeats, I’ve never really met a child who wanted to nap. They want to be with their own kind, to discuss politics. Really.
Well, one local custom in my neck of the woods is Friday night Magic: The Gathering, a perfect game for the imaginative who still need to go to bed at a decent hour and a game that’s quite compatible with Shabbat. Kudos if you can bring the 39 Melachot (the activities prohibited on Shabbat) into some narrative role play though.
Lower temperatures don’t seem to bother the local young people who play Friday night basketball—in their shorts—in the middle of winter, while I’m huddled inside with a book on my face. I inhale the words.
Shabbat spaces for kids also include the toddler, children’s and teen services that are probably way cooler—let’s be honest, age-appropriate—and shorter than the adult equivalent. There’s a necessary rhythm to our children’s communal lives, as they graduate from one grade to the next in school, responsibilities are also placed on their young shoulders in the Beit Knesset and our communities.
Going to shul enhances your Shabbat as well as your childhood and pretty soon you’re giving back to the community, for there’s one thing we learn pretty quickly, meals are better with others.