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    Some –
    body once
    showed me
    the “Ask
    the Rabbi”
    c o l u m n
    that was
    printed in a certain magazine
    (that is not connected to our
    community). The question was
    posed by a man who had decided sometime earlier to move to
    a different synagogue, and was
    now having second thoughts.
    For years, the man and his family
    belonged to a wonderfully warm,
    friendly, inviting synagogue that
    had an outstanding Rabbi who
    was both an impressive talmid hacham and an exceptionally warm
    and caring person. However, although the synagogue was warm
    and friendly, the father was disturbed by the talking during the
    prayer service. He felt that this set
    a very negative example for his
    children, and so they moved to a
    different synagogue, where there
    is greater decorum and respect
    during the prayers. The problem
    was that the people in this synagogue were not as friendly. The
    family never really felt connected
    to the congregation, and so before long, the wife and daughters
    stopped going to prayers altogether, and the son started going to the
    first synagogue.
    One Shabbat
    morning, the
    man overslept
    and could not
    go to the second
    synagogue. He
    told his family
    he would be going that morning
    to their original
    synagogue, and
    they all excitedly
    decided to join
    him. At the synagogue, they were
    all received very warmly by the
    members who were overjoyed that
    they returned. This got the man to
    start thinking if perhaps he should
    again regularly attend the first
    synagogue. His question was:
    should he attend a warm, friendly
    synagogue where there is talking
    during the service, or a synagogue
    which is less friendly, where his
    family did not feel they belonged,
    but where the service was conducted with the appropriate level
    of decorum?
    The Rabbi did not give a clearcut answer to this question. But
    in my humble opinion, there is
    no question whatsoever. In my
    mind, it is clear beyond a shadow
    of doubt, without any hesitation
    whatsoever, that the family should
    attend the first synagogue, the
    congregation which offers them
    a sense of belonging and a sense
    of community. As serious a prohibition as it is to speak during the
    prayer services, and while this is,
    without question, a problem that
    must not be ignored, we need to
    place ourselves in a community,
    somewhere where we feel a sense
    of belonging and connectedness,
    because only in such a setting are
    we able to grow and reach our full