This week, I met with a bar mitzvah family to discuss the upcoming simcha. In the middle of our conversation, we were interrupted by running feet and talkative voices coming through the wall. I explained that my office is adjacent to the hallway. Come 3pm, the hallway is like a subway station. Students, teachers, parents, strollers, laughter, high fives, and embraces come from every direction. It is understood that from about 3-3:30pm, the synagogue and garage are packed with people of all different ages.
The father of the bar mitzvah smiled and said, “I actually can’t think of a better sound. There is nothing better than hearing the voices of children in a synagogue.” His acknowledgment of the blessing gave me pause. As we recognize the atrocities of the Holocaust and the wiping out of six million voices, his realization hit me like a pound of bricks. For those that lived through the horrors of the Shoah, children’s laughter in a synagogue is the greatest revenge against the evils of Hitler. To “hear” Jewish life every single day…what a special gift. A gift that cannot be taken for granted.
Walk into a synagogue during the summer. It is eerie. On the first day after graduation, the synagogue feels empty and quiet. Too quiet. While the sanctuary is still bustling on Shabbat, there is something about the pitter-patter of children’s feet and the laughter of students that keeps a synagogue alive. Those sounds are a constant reminder of our purpose: to be a religious safe haven and center for Jewish growth for generation after generation. To provide Jews with their spiritual home. To offer a path for others as we bring light out into the world.
Let the laughter and noise fill every inch of the synagogue. Those are the sounds that remind us we’re home.