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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘class’

Highland Lakes Jewish Center/Chabad Chayil’s Classes And Programs

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The Highland Lakes Center/Chabad Chayil, located at 2601 N.E. 211 Terrace in North Miami Beach, is again holding “Secrets of the Hebrew Alphabet.” The popular class will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights. The course is deep, lots of fun, very informative and open to all backgrounds. Get the inside scoop on Hebrew letters, their meanings, shapes and numeric values according to the Kabbalistic tradition.

The center will also begin a new kids’ program from the Discovery Chanel on Wednesday afternoons at 4 p.m. Children will have the opportunity to take Discovery Kids computer classes at Chabad Chayil.

Family Film Night will take place Saturday evenings. The first film of the season was, “Your Grandpa Abe,” the true story of young Avraham, brilliantly animated for adults and children and a thoroughly enjoyable educational big screen experience.

Highland Lakes Jewish Center/Chabad Chayil suggests that South Floridians reserve these dates:

November 11 – Jewish Leadership Conference
November 23 – Hebrew School Shabbaton
December 12 – Chanukah Production/Shul Party
January 21 – Community Cruise

For more information e-mail the shul at office@ChabadChayil.org or call (305) 770-1919.

The Limits of Government Power

Friday, October 19th, 2012

A country and a people can be measured in its breadth and its depth. A government can either choose breadth of control or depth of control—but it cannot have both.

Breadth of control allows for governing a large area, but with only limited control and influence over those who live there. Depth of control allows for extensive control over the lives of a population, but such control requires government infrastructure of equal depth that is difficult to sustain or project over a large territory. One is a mile wide and an inch deep. The other is a mile deep and an inch wide.

Governments that choose breadth of control are able to govern a large territory with a light touch, but breadth of control depends on a population that governs itself through a national identity rooted in an ethical, religious or tribal code. When a government attempts to replace this code with its own control, then it trades breadth of control for depth of control.

Depth of control can only be extended over a limited area. When governments invest in depth of control, then they tighten control over a handful of urban centers clotted with massive bureaucracies that carefully regulate the lives of its middle class while the rest of the country begins going its own way unknown to the ruling class. These decadent systems lose touch with the outskirts and with their own lower classes and remain unaware even as their empire crumbles.

Modern government is fixated on depth of control over people. It plots to control every aspect of their lives with the goal of creating a completely harmonious whole. Technology has fed the illusion that such control has become more feasible than ever allowing for the rise of truly scientific government. This illusion is destroying the nation-states of modern civilization by overburdening them with massive governments flailing for control and destroying their economies in order to achieve that control.

Bureaucracy is the sticking point of depth of control. Each level of control requires more staff to implement that control. The more aspects of private life that government seeks to make public, the more men and women sitting behind desks are needed to formulate the rules, promulgate them, process them and enforce them.

The nationalization of private life runs into the same problem of all nationalization and collectivization. Large operations tend toward greater degrees of inefficiency due to the diffusion of responsibility and accountability. Large systems respond to inefficiency by creating more redundant structures which only increase the inefficiency.

Bureaucracies cope with all problems by adding new layers of paperwork without recognizing that paperwork is itself the problem. The world outside comes to be modeled through paper so that rather than interacting with problems, the system interacts with a paperwork model of the real world that is detached from the real world and requires ever increasing resource of paperwork handlers to maintain.

Governments begin by seeking depth of control and end by losing control over the depths of their own bureaucracy which not only becomes incapable of managing an entire control, but develops its own agenda and becomes a political rival of the politicians who serve as the conduit of their rulership and also the void into which all their ideas, both good and bad, fall into and vanish without a trace.

Depth of control is implemented through the proliferation of laws, regulations, mandates and codes, but the proliferation of laws is also the proliferation of lawlessness. The more laws exist, the more they are broken and the more the system must struggle to restore credibility with constant crackdowns or sink into a state of complete lawlessness.

A system that strives for depth of control is always running the Red Queen’s Race, passing more laws and declaring more wars on obstructive social problems just to stay in place without ever solving anything. The problems become institutionalized and unsolvable because the institutionalization of a problem creates a bureaucratic mandate for the survival of the institutions dedicated to solving the problem and the institutions dedicated to solving the problem seek to survive by not solving the problem.

Like a war, depth of control takes on its own momentum and comes to exist for the sake of existing. Even though the various social wars can never be won, the ruling class and the middle class are obligated to believe that victory is at hand. The working class and the lower class, as well as the lower middle class, who are usually the targets of government problem solving, are usually well aware that the problems are unsolvable. Their obstinacy acts as a kind of passive aggressive insurgency against the problem solvers.

The Odd Couple of Barak and Joe

Monday, October 15th, 2012

The presidential and vice-presidential debates provided us with two snapshots of two different and yet very similar men.

The Obama who showed up to debate Mitt Romney and the Biden who showed up to debate Paul Ryan were outwardly different types. One white and one black, one elderly and one middle-aged, one a veteran of the Senate and the other a political tyro rushed through the ranks on the promise of his electability.

But Obama and Biden showed once again at the debates that they have more in common than anyone would give them credit for. Obama was surly while Biden was belligerent, but both men behaved the way they did out of an innate sense of entitlement. With their every word and gesture they made it clear that they were too good to be here.

While Romney and Ryan have often been accused of elitism, both as a personal accusation and as a class accusation, they behaved with dignity and discretion. Obama and Biden on the other hand treated their opponents with contempt beginning with their lack of preparation for the debates and their lack of grace in the debate.

Obama believed that he had won the debate after he lost it and Biden believed that he won the debate before it even began. Biden’s braggadocio and Obama’s disdain both came out of their own exaggerated senses of self-worth that made them feel that they were too good for the forum and too good for their opponents.

Biden and Obama may not have race, religion or age in common, but they both share a common narcissism that leads them to believe that their innate specialness transcends competence and that their rhetorical gifts can overcome their laziness and lack of preparation. Neither man bothered to hide their belief that their opponents are inferior to them in every possible way.

Strip away the years and races, the experience and the capped teeth, and you have two petty egotistical men who believe that they are destined for greater things than whatever thing they happen to be doing at the moment, even if what they happen to be doing at the moment is occupying the two highest offices in the land.

Their thin skins and fake smiles go together, along with their contempt for each other and the whole world. They are men who live oblivious to other men, who occupy a current of their own imagining, who are always certain that life has not rewarded them sufficiently for all that they have done, even though they have done nothing. They are men of ambition, but not talent. Their only gift is one of imagining themselves in greater and greater positions and the accompanying talent of convincing others that their imaginary abilities should be rewarded with real positions.

They are glib, but not smart men. They have a facility for speaking off-the-cuff, but that facility betrays them as often as it rewards them. Like actors they love the sounds of their own voices so much that they never notice when their own song becomes a siren call dooming them to the crash of their own stupidity.

They can tell stories, but they are always the stars of their own stories, the “I’s” of the legends that they build around themselves, the gods who stride from their own temples, the heroes who come to their own rescue and then marry themselves and cheer themselves on.

Both men have come out of political machines where rhetoric was more important than competence. Political machines disguise their mechanisms of corruption with high-flow rhetoric and tribal appeals that convince their audiences that while may be thieves, they are ‘their’ thieves who steal on behalf of their race, their community and their group.

Biden and Obama both excel at the rhetoric of grievance. They summon up displays of fake anger to disguise their own corruption and incompetence, striving to convince slices of the electorate that they are fighting for them, because they know that they have no hope of convincing them that they are competent managers.

Obama is the new face of the Democratic Party, the perfect public face of its coalition between the government upper class and their minority voters, while Biden is the face of the old Democratic Party, the one that played on the working class Irish, Italian and Jewish vote in urban centers on behalf of the social planners of the New Deal and the New Frontier.

The Democratic Party is losing its grip on the Reagan Democrats, the loss of manufacturing jobs and the growing conservatism of small business is leaving less and less room for the kind of barstool campaigns that Joseph Robinette Biden was once good for.

The 2012 election is the last hurrah of the Biden class, those grinning senseless storytellers and glib millionaires with hard-luck tales and rolled up sleeves pretending to be working class, shaking hands with union steelworkers, mill workers, factory workers, telling them, “Oh boy that’s tough, but lemme tell you about the time my wife almost caught me with Cindy. Don’t worry the Democrats have your back. Stick with us and we’ll take care of you.”

Those voters are vanishing, falling through the cracks of EPA fascism and globalized outsourcing. If Obama wins another term, there may still be room for a few thousand of them to put together solar panels and windmills from China, but even those jobs will go to the new face of America. To Somali refugees and Mexican immigrants, and those workers will not need Biden to stand outside their bar and shake their hands. Some of them won’t have bars and most of them won’t care about anything but the benefits package they get through their local cultural center.

That’s the new face of America that Obama represents. It’s the same old story of the urban political machine which caters to the revolving door of new immigrants, stocking up front men who speak their language and know all their customs, only to give those front men the boot when the demographics of the alleys of Slumville and Immigrant’s Row change.

Tammany Hall’s leadership went from English to Irish to Italian, Jewish and Black in some 170 years. The process has since accelerated and Joe Biden with his fake working class mannerisms and outdated jokes doing his best to be everyone’s fun crazy uncle is almost done.

Biden’s currency, like Obama’s currency, was his identity. Not a real identity, but an artificial identity. Crazy Uncle Joe is as authentically working class as Barry Hussein is an African-American. Neither of them was chosen for anything but their ability to mimic the identities of others in order to project a lower class sensibility that they have no part of.

Debating Ryan was Biden’s last hurrah, it was the thunder of a dinosaur crashing through the trees, snapping his teeth and roaring at the sky, without understanding that the big fire above is a meteor coming down on top of him. The world in which Biden might have aimed at the top job is long gone. Biden’s function today is to snap his teeth, to roar and remind the youngsters that old time political crooks didn’t need to call themselves community organizers or bolster their credentials with fake teaching gigs. All they needed was a barstool and a great deal of nerve.

Biden has ushered in that new world, and yet he has no apprehension of it. Joseph Robinette Biden imagines that the future still belongs to him and that he can keep hold of it so long as the hair plugs keep hold of his skull. And while he may be an object of fun back at the White House, his boss should carefully consider his fate as an object lesson.

The only thing really separating Obama from Biden is a generational shift and the shift is driven by the political agenda of the left. It is not too difficult, although quite horrifying, to imagine an America in the year 2037 where Barack Hussein is as much of an anachronism as Crazy Joe. The Democratic Party has reinvented itself numerous times and the stresses that it imposes on the country come out of the left’s program.

The smirking fake working class pol was not the endpoint of the Democratic Party, though in his own time the creature seemed every bit as radical as a man with Muslim roots in the White House. There is no reason to think that Barack with his Third Culture image and his fake veneer of culture is going to be the endpoint either. If the left has taught us anything, it is that its narrative of cultural destruction is always able to conceive of more and more horrifying worlds than anything we might behold today.

Obama has already gotten his, and so has Biden, though the corrupt Senator still fantasizes about a White House he cannot have. The difference between political ambition and political success is often timing and luck. As a child, Obama used to tell his classmates that he was an Indonesian prince. That position wasn’t open to him, but he lucked into a political career that coincided with a wave of Muslim terrorism and an accompanying wave of appeasement by his party.

Had that not happened, it’s quite possible that Obama’s exotic bio would have meant nothing and he would be sitting in the Illinois Senate watching Cory Booker making his acceptance speech in the race to unseat President McCain. And conversely, had the Democratic Party not swung so far to the left and stayed focused on the American working class instead of an artificially imported diversity overseen by a college educated upper class. Had it embraced tariffs and protected American manufacturing, then the country might be a very different place and President Joe Biden might be inveighing against Republican elitism while boasting of showing Chinese products the door.

But these worlds are not places that narcissists like Obama or Biden, who believe in their own specialness, rather than the random chance of world events and the influence of ideological movements, can visit or appreciate.

Obama and Biden see themselves as men of destiny, when they’re actually front men for a massive scam that has been going on long before their grandparents got out of diapers. The scam has evolved and become more sophisticated, and that growing sophistication is why Biden is only useful to the scam as a scarecrow shouting at Ryan about anything and everything, while Obama is useful as the healer who will reassure the country of its new moral stature.

But though they play different roles, that does not make them different men. It is the accidents and plans of the machine that made them fit only for these different roles, that left Biden no choice but to play the loud buffoon, while Barack got the star part of the new JFK.

Barry and Joe are the same man because the machine they serve is the same machine and though they imagine that they rule the machine, it is the machine that chose them, it is the machine that uses them and it is the machine that will throw them away when it is done.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Shhhh…

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Rest period in the pre-kindergarten class at the Jewish Educational Center, the precursor to the current St. Paul Jewish Community Center, circa 1939.

It was built in 1930 at the corner of Holly and Grotto Streets. Programming combined recreation and education, and by the time this picture was taken, over 100 community groups used the building.

I was looking for something sweet to prepare us for the Holy Day of Yom Kippur. I was born on Yom Kippur, and so I always find it difficult to feel fear when it comes to what is, after all, my birthday.

I can understand intellectually why people are so afraid – judgment, sealed fates, it’s supposed to be scary. But I don’t feel those things. Instead, I fell the beauty of the tunes, the fragrance of the citrus fruit poked with cloves which I smell every half hour or so, the amazing stories of the Mussaf service.

Who else gets this kind of goodies on their birthday?

I didn’t find any image that would express my Yom Kippur joy. So I picked these toddlers, who are in their 70s and 80s today.

But if you look closely, you’ll see that the child up front is squeezing his face and fist – faking a peaceful nap for the benefit of the camera. No innocence there…

Ah, well, the search for spontaneous expressions of authentic joy continues…

Learn Hebrew with Israel’s Best Teachers – In Real-Time, In Your Home

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

eTeacherHebrew.com offers a unique online environment where classes take place via internet video conferencing, in real time. The service not only brings Hebrew tuition right to your home, but also connects you personally with Israel’s finest Hebrew-teaching professionals.

Family is central to Israeli and Jewish culture, and the source of the genuine warmth that gives the nation its character. eTeacherHebrew.com is a family business, like many of Israel’s greatest and proudest organizations. Company founders Boaz and Yariv are the grandsons of Aharon Rosen, a respected teacher, author and theorist in the field of Hebrew tuition for non-native speakers in the nation’s early days.

Rosen’s grandsons have combined state-of-the-art technology with their grandfather’s dream of teaching Hebrew to anyone who wishes to learn it, at any age, anywhere in the world. The Internet has provided the ideal medium to realize such a vision, bringing the best teachers in Israel to the homes of students throughout the world.

eTeacherHebrew.com is a friendly and intimate niche in the often impersonal online environment. Teachers and students – though separated by oceans and time differences – form strong bonds, in many cases traveling overseas and actually visiting each others homes in person.

Shira Cohen-Regev has been teaching with eTeacherHebrew.com for seven years. She has frequently visited and hosted her students from all over the world. This Passover, she hosted a ‘virtual Seder’ with her class.

“We read from the Haggadah, and I explained what everything meant. We sang the songs and talked about the food, the calories,” she laughs. “I felt so privileged to share Passover with them, to be their first connection with a real Israeli Seder.

“For Independence Day I asked my students what they wished for the nation. Love and peace, money, and new immigrants were their answers,” she says.

Students at eTeacherHebrew.com have expressed their satisfaction with the program, and have been pleasantly surprised by the ease and effectiveness of the online learning method. Sanne Terlouw of the Netherlands says, ” I had never expected that I would benefit so much from an internet school, but it really works.” Coyle Pam of South Carolina, USA particularly enjoyed the student contact. ”

“This is the best course I have had. I signed up for a telephone course before, but it was one-on-one for the whole hour and it was too much pressure. With other students in the class, there are breaks between talking, and the other students are heard, so I learn from them.”

 

According to Tami Weil, Didactic Consultant to the writers and teachers of the eTeacherHebrew.com program, the online learning environment provides a unique opportunity for learning language at all levels – from beginners to advanced – while allowing for an enjoyable, social experience.

“At Hebrewonline.com, our program is comprehensive, including homework, yet flexible enough to include interesting surprises, such as special exercises relating to current events and holidays, colloquialisms, slang speech and more. The pace of the lessons is quite challenging, yet there is the constant online support of staff and fellow students to ensure all participants gain the most they can at every stage of the course.”

eTeacherHebrew.com’s history is a heartwarming tale of one family’s success – of immigrant beginnings to international achievement, across the generations. It is also your opportunity to learn Hebrew from the comfort of your own home, yet truly connect with the land of Israel and its people.

eTeacherHebrew.com has recently launched a new and exciting program for people with an interest in Biblical Hebrew. With eTeacherBiblical.com, you can learn Hebrew as it was spoken in biblical times. eTeacherBiblical.com brings the most experienced teachers and scholars of Biblical Hebrew direct to you, so you can increase your understanding and appreciation of biblical texts in their original language.

eTeacherHebrew.com and eTeacherBiblical.com are the most effective, enjoyable and convenient way to learn Hebrew – without leaving home.

Click here for more details and to sign up

Going In Circles

Friday, September 14th, 2012

When people ask me what kind of column I write for The Jewish Press, I say, “advice,” but I actually make those quotes with my fingers. I don’t think I’ve actually saved any lives yet. But this column is still great way to vent about your problems, so long as you can figure out how to put them in the form of a question.

Dear Mordechai,

The guy next to me on the road is talking on his phone while driving. Is he trying to get us all killed?

Sent from my iPhone

Dear Sent,

I would say you should stay right on him, lean on your horn, and don’t stop. Eventually, he’ll have to hang up.

This all makes us long for the good old days, when phones were attached to people’s houses, so there was only a limited distance that you could drive with them, depending on the size of your cord. Most people couldn’t leave their neighborhoods.

But the truth is this kind of multitasking is nothing new. People have always been doing other things while driving, and people have always been doing other things while talking on the phone. Before we spent all our driving time staring at our phones, we were eating, finding something good on the radio, shaving, clipping our toenails, blindly groping for things our kids dropped under the seat, and passing back open drinks. And back when we had separate devices for phoning and computing, we would only half pay attention to the people we were on the phone with, who would think they had our full attention until we mumbled, “Uch, where are all the jacks?”

“Um, are you playing solitaire?”

“No, I’m… playing jacks.”

It’s not like the really old days, when phones came in two separate pieces – one for the ear and one for the mouth — and the wire was six inches long, so to talk on the phone, people had to lean over them and use both hands. Maybe that would solve the problem.

Or maybe not. People text with both hands too.

Dear Mordechai,

Why does everyone in my shul walk so slowly during Hoshanos? I need to get to work.

Sent from my iPhone

Dear Sent,

I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be suggesting we all walk faster while holding lulavim.

No shul I’ve ever been to has ever managed to do any better. They could bring in city planners to figure out the best route around the shul, and they could move tables and put up traffic signs, and people will still take shortcuts across corners and merge back in, which, in the end, makes the line go even slower. .

Half of them don’t even realize they’re merging. They’re just looking down at their siddurim and following the tallis in front of them.

Somehow I always end up with a guy in front of me going really slow, and a guy behind me leaning on my back. Or else the guy behind me is a kid, and every time the guy in front of me makes a short stop, the kid pokes me in the back with his lulav. Not that I blame him. The poor kid, with his tiny hands, can’t hold a thousand-page Artscroll machzor and a lulav and an esrog that is bigger than his hands. None of us can really hold all that and turn the page (because somehow you always have to turn the page. That’s the other nice thing about the Artscrolls).

So you figure, “Look, the chazzan is saying everything out loud, 3 words at a time. Why do I need my own siddur?” But then as soon as he’s done, there’s a whole paragraph that you have to say by yourself, and it’s going to take you ten minutes to get back to your seat, because the chazzan, when he finishes, is somehow right back at his shtender, but everyone else is on the exact opposite side of the shul from where they need to be. So yes, you need to have a siddur with you, so you can say the paragraph while blindly making your way to your seat.

We don’t have this problem on Simchas Torah. We go around the shul then too, but people are running, they’re holding each other’s shoulders, weaving in and out, and everything’s fine. And this is on top of Torahs and piggyback riders and sticky hands from all the candy. And I’m not even talking about the kids. But on Sukkos, those same people can’t manage to make it around one time.

Learning As I Teach

Friday, August 31st, 2012

This was my first teaching job. I was standing in front of a classroom of eighteen delightful third graders. I had tutored and taught small groups of children over the years but this was my very own class. I could barely believe it. I was all of nineteen years old and I was so nervous. My stomach hurt and I hardly slept the night before the start of the school year. Eighteen pairs of sweet, adorable eyes followed my every move, every day.

I had spent the past two weeks decorating my classroom. Creating a bulletin board that would be exciting and interesting, yet clear and informative. It was bright and colorful but defined and organized. I wanted my students to understand my routines, yet be curious to find out more of what I had in store for them.

I prepared and worked hard on my lessons. I taught with enthusiasm and energy. I brought in visual aids and props galore. I acted out stories in an intense and dramatic way that surprised even me. I captured my students’ attention and piqued their interest in learning. I honed in on their skills and challenged them in new ways. I built their confidence and motivated them to want to learn more.

But like every new teacher, no matter how much I prepared I still had loads to learn. And my students taught me. I remember the first time I announced, “Everyone, please hand in your homework from yesterday,” and eighteen worksheet papers went flying in my direction. Many of them falling slowly to the floor and bedlam ensued. The next day, I instituted the “Homework Collection” system which worked wonders.

Well, there I was, deep into a Chumash lesson, sing-songing the pesukim and translating word for word, adding my creative hand motions that connected to each word and hanging up sentence strips on the bulletin board; when I learned yet another valuable lesson from my students.

Tami G. was a tall third grader. She was only nine years old but she reached my shoulders and maybe a bit higher. She was almost double the height of some of the children in my class. Tami was the type of girl who had an easygoing smile and was happy to go along with whatever the class was doing. Her notebooks, loose-leaf binder, papers, and pencil case were always shoved into her desk and something, inevitably, was always poking out in a haphazard way. She was still able to find whatever she needed and as long as she was okay with it, I didn’t mind either. Naturally, as the tallest in the class, Tami sat in the back of the room. She had an extra tall chair and desk. Her legs were almost always restlessly moving trying to find a comfortable spot. She was involved in the class lessons and always had great comments to share.

As I said, there I was, in the midst of my captivating and well cultivated lesson when Tami moved her feet a bit in the wrong direction bumping her desk. Her whole desk knocked over and fell forward toward her. She caught the desk before it crashed to the floor but everything inside of it came tumbling out. Everything. And of course, her pencil case wasn’t zipped – so there was a nice mess on the floor and whole lot of noise. All eyes turned toward Tami. The room was silent.

There went my lesson.

Tami with her half-smile, hand raised, called out, “Clean Up in Aisle 4!”

And I burst out laughing.

Tami’s smile stretched further and happily joined mine, laughing. My class was pleasantly surprised to see their teacher laughing and started giggling, then laughing along with me.

That’s when I learned my favorite lesson of all. I realized that it is wonderful to find little moments of good, healthy, wholesome laughter. It puts a whole different spin in the classroom atmosphere and sprinkles the air with such a special happiness. It is a marvelous way to show that we enjoy learning and life.

Over the past number of years teaching, I learned so many lessons from my students but this one I treasure most. And I have found incredible, exciting opportunities to smile and laugh together with my students and it brightens the whole classroom.

How Bais Yaakov Almost Ruined my Life

Friday, August 31st, 2012

It started when I was in first grade. I was an active kid with bright orange curls, and I’d never sit in one place long enough for my mother to even attempt to brush my hair. I was six years old, the youngest in my class, when my teacher called me to the front of the room. “This”, she informed the rest of the class, “is what a Bas Yisrael does NOT look like.” She then proceeded to braid my hair in front of everyone else as I did my best to hold back my tears.

That was the first time I realized that I was not going to fit in. That there was an “us” and a “them”, and “they” were not to be trusted.

I attended Bais Yaakov for ten years. I participated in their day camp every summer. All of my friends were from school. This was my whole world, and I was prepared to be an outsider for a long, long time.

As we got older, we were split into two classes. The “high” class and the “low” class. Premeditated or not, the “high” class all had fathers in Kollel and lived in the same religiously insulated community. My daddy was a doctor, and it didn’t matter that he finished all of Shas and had a chavrusah every night. My house was a mere ten minute walk from the neighborhood the other girls lived in, but that didn’t make a difference. I wasn’t “Bais Yaakov” and that was it. I pretended to own it – yeah, I was a rebel – but the truth is that everyone just wants to be accepted. I tried, but it was clear that I was never going to be. I wasn’t a bad kid. I never did drugs and I didn’t drink, I hardly talked to boys and I dressed more or less the way I was supposed to. It was other things. It was the fact that I’d go bike riding with my family, that we listened to the radio in the car, that I was a dramatic, sensitive kid who just couldn’t accept religion the way it was given to me. I always needed to understand why, why I had to keep Shabbat, why the boys had to put on tefillin but I didn’t, why saying Shema at night would protect me from all the evil in the world. I needed to know why, and the only answer I ever received from my teachers was “because Hashem said so”. I would get frustrated and angry every time I hit that wall, and at some point they stopped calling on me and I stopped caring. Clearly, I was too dumb and too unconnected to understand what everyone else seemed to accept. Clearly, I was just bad at being religious.

I have ADD to an insane degree, and davening was basically impossible for me. I had a system with my friends where we would all leave at different points and meet up in the bathroom until it was over. We got caught a few times, but no one ever spoke to me to find out why I was skipping it. I just got in trouble over and over, reinforcing in my mind the idea that there was something wrong with me. I just wasn’t ever going to be good at being religious.

In Bais Yaakov, you were either they way they wanted you to be, or you were wrong. Until I left the school – until I was sixteen years old – I actually thought that wearing short sleeves meant that you were irreligious. I thought that by skipping davening, I was “off the derech”. The girls who were wearing nail polish, jeans, even sandals – they were either already a lost cause or close to it. It took me a long long time to break out of that mindset, to realize all of the colors and shades and layers there are in Judaism.

Now, thank God, I’ve left that world behind me. The only valuable lessons I’ve taken from those years are memories of all of the things that I will never tell my children, memories of feelings I will never allow them to feel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-bais-yaakov-ruined-my-life-almost/2012/08/31/

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