Is there a Halachic way to get paid to run a kids program in a Shul on Shabbos?
One may not accept Schar Shabbos (payment for work done on Shabbos). Even though one is obviously paid after Shabbos, it is nevertheless forbidden since the work is being done on Shabbos. Regarding work done for a Mitzvah, there is a Machlokes Haposkim (a difference of opinion among Halachic authorities); even those Poskim who rule that Schar Shabbos is permitted if done for a Mitzvah maintain that one will not see a Siman Brachah (sign of blessing) in that money. Being paid for Leining (reading from the Torah) on Shabbos, blowing Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, performing Chazanus (being a cantor) are all forms of Schar Shabbos. One way of being permitted to accept payment for these, and other similar tasks, is to be paid for the preparation rather than for the act itself; since the preparation is done during the week, it’s permissible to be paid for it, and the work done on Shabbos would be considered as being done “pro bono”.
Accepting payment for babysitting on Shabbos certainly falls under the category of Schar Shabbos. However, Schar Shabbos Behavla’ah (when “absorbed” with other payment) is permissible, but only if all of the following conditions are met:
• The employment agreement has to be structured in such a manner that the babysitter isn’t hired by the hour or by the day, but rather per week or per month.
• The babysitter must be paid for babysitting done during the week or month, and not solely for babysitting on Shabbos. If either employee or employer have the right to opt out of the agreement, and the employee would then get paid pro rata (proportionally), it doesn’t qualify as Schar Shabbos Behavla’ah, even if it includes payment for weekdays.