Sitting in temple all day is tough. My Hebrew is not as good as it should be and I tend to lose my place quite a bit. I also like to understand what I am reading so my eyes tend to drift to the English translations. There are people walking in and out, clothes and jewelry to check out and conversations to eavesdrop on. It is hard to pay attention.
Sitting in synagogue this year made me think about what some of my students must be going through. The third term algebra classes are full of kids who did not pass algebra 2. They need to know what was taught in algebra 2 to be successful in algebra 3 and 4. They are now expected to be able to solve quadratic equations while most cannot factor and many have no grasp of signed numbers. Some try for a while and then their attention turns to cell phones, I-pods and conversations with their neighbors. Others put their heads down and go to sleep. The room pass is in constant use. I hate to admit it, but I am guilty of the same things. The use of electronic devices is forbidden on the holiday, but day dreaming and frequent walks to the bathroom are not. I want to be in temple and immerse myself in the observation of my holiday, but I can't. I think of my poor students. Many have close to perfect attendance but do nothing in class. They are the ones that feel like I do. I know some just come to socialize and there are groups of people that come to synagogue for the same reason.
I know, for me, the answer would be to study more, to improve my skills to be able to participate fuller. I tell myself I will do this every year, but so far, I have not listened. It is hard and time consuming and to tell the truth, I am not very good at languages. My kids know they should also study more but they face the same obstacles I do.
I don't have answers, I wish I did. I've often heard people say, "If the kids just applied themselves more, they would succeed." Thee people should spend a day as I just did, trying to keep up with something they do not have skills to keep up with. Maybe that would at least help them become more understanding and then maybe someone could arrive at a solution to the problem.