The other day, I took A with me to synagogue services. It was one of those long afternoons. I was working at home, and she needed a little time out. So we put on her puffy coat, hat, scarf and gloves, and dashed out the door together. She spent most of the time sitting on my lap or in the chair next to me, and was quiet as a mouse, taking it all in.

From then on whenever I mention that I need to pray minchah (afternoon services), she immediately perks up and starts begging to come along in clumsily constructed sentences that only two-year-olds (and immigrants 70 years their senior) can come up with. “Me . . . coming . . . minchah,” her intense brown eyes plead.

Taking kids to services has long been something on which I strongly identify with two opposing opinions. To quote my father quoting someone else, “Some of my friends are on one side of this issue, and some of my friends are on the other side—and I stand firmly with my friends.”

On one hand, the toddlers are too little to really get what is going on, and chances are they will end up disturbing someone for at least some of the time. Prayer is a time for solemn concentration, and messy kids with bags of carrot sticks don’t fit gracefully into the picture. People arguing this side of the issue have lots of handy quotes from Jewish law to support them.

On the other hand, if they don’t go to shul (synagogue) as kids, when do we expect them to suddenly become comfortable in what we hope will become their second home? Also, how can you possibly look askance at a toddler jumping up and down with unbridled excitement at the sight of the Torah being brought from the ark to the reading table? We are not talking about out-of-control wildcats. These are well-behaved children who sometimes get bored or temporarily forget to use library voices.

So, after a serious talking-to about appropriate shul behavior, I take them. I have, however, drawn the line at one child. I do not go alone to shul with two or three kids in tow. When they learn to read and pray on their own, we can revisit. But for now, we have a one-child policy.

So, if you happen to see me in shul trying to shush my child, or if my kid is running a bit too fast down the aisle, please look kindly. I did not just thoughtlessly take them without thinking about your devotion. I took them thinking about their devotion.