For many Jews, Yom Kippur is a time for personal reflection. But for the parents of small children, the Day of Atonement brings with it its own challenges. Adults are expected to be in synagogue, but children aren’t usually as interested in another round of the “Al Het” confession. Which is why congregations offer activities specifically for children.
The following exchange was overheard in the bathroom of a Los Angeles synagogue on the night of Kol Nidre, during the rabbi’s sermon:
A Father and his five-year-old Son stand at adjacent urinals. The Son has just returned from a children’s activity.
Father: Did you like it?
Son says nothing.
Father: I mean, I know you liked the handball part, but what about the Judaism part?
Son: I liked it a little. It wasn’t so bad.
Father: Well remember what religion is.
Son: (struggling to remember) O—
Son gives up.
Father: (enunciating every word) The opiate—
(pauses, like a schoolteacher)
—of the masses.