web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Sister Giovanna


Share Button

The blade of the penknife sliced cleanly into my thumb and a thin stream of crimson blood appeared immediately, getting thicker by the second. I dropped the penknife onto my lap and reached for the green hem of my school skirt. I pressed it tightly against my thumb. Only then did I glance up at Sister Giovanna who was standing, as usual, slightly to the right of the black board. I raised my hand and hoped that she would call on me soon.

“Yes?” she looked at a point above my head.

“Please may I go to the bathroom?” I whispered. Of course she heard me; no one spoke in Sister Giovanna’s class unless they had to.

She nodded to the point above my head. I contributed little to the class. I spent every Religion lesson sitting at the back of this second grade classroom in Consolata Primary School with my guide book, The Holy Land, open on my desk and my ears closed to all her polemics.

I slipped out and ran to the bathroom. I held my thumb under the running faucet and watched how the two sides of the neat slit were pushed open by the force of the water. After a few moments, I knew that the wound was bleeding less: the water that was flowing down the drain was more fuchsia than crimson. I ran into the toilet holding my thumb high and pulled of a wad of white toilet paper to fashion a bandage. I washed the basin clean and rubbed my foot over the drops of blood that speckled the floor, leaving no trace of my pain.

Once I was back at home, I showed my mother my cut and earned myself a trip to Dr. Veronica Sacks for an anti-tetanus shot. My entire arm throbbed for two days.

The next day, in the Religion lesson, I paged through my book obediently, the pen knife once again safe in my father’s drawer where it belonged. Occasionally, when the pictures of my traveler’s guide had become monotonous, or when the accompanying text became too convoluted to decipher, my eyes and ears would open to Sister Giovanna’s snapping.

“The Ten Commandments were divided between two stone tablets: three on one side and seven on the other,” she called stridently. Every head in the class nodded. Lest any one in the class think that the asymmetrical division came about because the Lord couldn’t divide, she went on to explain the reason for this division. I knew she was wrong because every Friday evening, when I glanced at the stone tablets above the main entrance to the Nairobi shul, I clearly saw that the Ten Commandments were divided with five on each side. But I was much too afraid of Sister Giovanna to contradict her.

Recalling my mother’s repeated warnings not to listen to this lesson, from my temporary position at the back of the class, my eyes began to wander round the classroom. There next to the empty seat that was my usual place, was Anita, my close friend and a fervent Moslem. In front of her sat Bernard, a half-caste who never told us if he followed the religion of his father or mother. Earl, a quiet Hindu who probably went on to join his father’s thriving business sat next to Bernard. Jeremiah, a true Italian Roman Catholic, Sister Giovanna’s pride and glory, sat in the front row. Andrea, a Protestant Asian friend, was next to him. The rest of the class, twenty-five students in all, was a mixture that followed this pattern.

At this point, the class began to chant their way through the Ten Commandments, pausing momentarily after the third. My arm throbbed in rhythm and my heart beat out the lesson I had learnt: You shall not play with a pen knife in Religion class. You shall look at your traveler’s guide.

In Nairobi in the 1980s, the Consolata Primary School, run by Catholic nuns, offered high academic standards and was therefore a popular schooling option for many families. When my parents enrolled my brother and me they were following a family tradition of sorts: my cousins had also attended the school.

“Gail and Doron were such good students,” Sister Giovanna told me on many occasions.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Sister Giovanna”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Devorah Samuel

The blade of the penknife sliced cleanly into my thumb and a thin stream of crimson blood appeared immediately, getting thicker by the second. I dropped the penknife onto my lap and reached for the green hem of my school skirt. I pressed it tightly against my thumb. Only then did I glance up at Sister Giovanna who was standing, as usual, slightly to the right of the black board. I raised my hand and hoped that she would call on me soon.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/sister-giovanna/2012/12/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: