‘The whole world is sustained only on account of the breath of children learning’ by Rabbi Hannah Kingston and Chloe Kimmel

Written by Rabbi Hannah Kingston — 19 March 2019

Did you know that a baby doesn’t see its first colour, the colour red, until it is 5 months old. Although babies are born able to see, their brains can’t work quickly enough to process these images. A baby will recognise a close up face and will become attached to those who hold them most.


Did you know that babies use their ears to take in massive amounts of information from the world around them. Sounds help to stimulate a baby’s brain development and from early on a baby will respond to familiar sounds and startle at loud noises


Did you know that touch is how you first communicate and interact with a baby. A baby’s skin is highly sensitive and therefore skin on skin contact is a vital part of communication and bonding with your baby.


Did you know that babies start using their sense of smell while still in the womb. Even though a new born can’t recognize their parent by sight, they will know who their parents are by their natural scent.


Did you know that babies have more taste buds than adults. From birth a baby can distinguish between sweet and bitter tastes, and they constantly explore using their mouths to try and make sense of different textures and tastes


A baby’s five senses supply a steady stream of information that helps them to learn about the world and bond with others. Specialised sensory activities help to stimulate a baby’s brain development.


Talmud says: ‘The whole world is sustained only on account of the breath of children learning.’. This is why we felt it was so important for babies to have a dedicated sensory space within Alyth for them to explore Shabbat and bond with us, their community.


Our sensory service has not only created this but has also meant that synagogue life and relationships are central to more than 30 under 2 year old’s lives. Through this engagement we have enriched the Shabbat experience of not only the babies, but also their parents. They have found a space in which their children can grow and develop in their own way, even if they need to cry, feed, or poo whilst doing it.


On the first shabbat of every month we have formed a space that feels calm and comforting, a true mikdash, a sacred sanctuary, for the young families in our community. Our Sensory Service has meant that every first shabbat of the month the age range in this building goes from 3 weeks old, to nearly 5,200 weeks old, a 100 year age range.


The sanctity of this community has now expanded outside of these synagogue walls as our young families have formed a support network for one another. Now, with the help of our Sensory Shabbat soundtrack, the music of Shabbat is playing over the traditional nursery rhymes, showing what an important part Judaism plays in these families’ lives.


It is our hope that these sensory babies will sustain the Alyth community in the future. If Alyth becomes their home, then these children will grow up and will inevitably be sitting exactly where you are in 10, 20, or 30 years time, watching the next generation emerge.


But in order for Alyth to truly feel like home for our young families, being their own parallel community is not enough. They need to feel like they are part of something bigger, for a house is not a home without family.


Which is why in 3 weeks time we invite you to join our babies and their families, as they descend on the Beit Tefilah for a special Sensory Service to celebrate more than one year of success. With the help of a live Sensory Shabbat band we will welcome you to come and explore Shabbat morning with a difference.


We invite you to relax and let your senses guide you through the service as you watch how our youngest members pray. In a world of coloured scarves, changing lights and musical instruments you will experience a Shabbat morning service like never before.


We hope you will join us on Saturday 6 April as we open the doors of our mikdash to our extended Alyth family for a Sensory Shabbat experience. Support our youngest members, and their families, as we work together to create shabbat memories that last a lifetime.