Monday, June 27, 2005

It's all about the Benjamins...

You know how all these Yeshivas are constantly preaching about how everyone in the yeshiva must grow to be "Koylel Yungerleit"? That's kinda funny, because a while ago, we received a newsletter about some Yeshiva dinner . I looked at the honorees on the cover. I told my father, "I bet these are all the money men, and ones with the beards are the chashuv ones." I should have bet more. Sure enough, one graduated from NYU and his wife from Hunter, the other guy is a dentist with a professional wife. Umm, "Koylel" anyone?

Now, some will say, "maybe he learned for the first year or two..." whatever. I have no problem with these schools preaching Kollel because deep down I think we all know that it's really the right and best way when it's done sincerely. But I'll save all that for my long winded post about Kollel. It's so complicated that I'm gonna have to work on it on paper, edit it and blah, blah..

But I find it hypocritical of these people to honor those who have done exactly the opposite of what they preach. Assume they went to a private undergrad, but going to grad school, which is mostly co-ed, and then the workplace is also obviously not all Jewish is all assur according to them, and all that business.

Some students may argue to the Yeshiva that they'll be the Zevulan to all the learning Yesachars...but you're supposed to ASPIRE to be a Yesachar, AND many say that Zevulan gave half his earnings to Yesachar. I can't think of anyone who would do that in real life. Oh, man, I'm dipping into my "Koylel" thing. But you see what I am saying--these Yeshivas-- yes, need the money-- but they are going against what they say by honoring these money men. So they are saying, "Yes, you should learn, but these people are an exception, they can do what we feel (and preach) is assur because they are making money for the school, and paying for your learning..."

Since you can't expect these people to live on miracles, they have left themselves with two options, 1-only honor those bearded guys who have little money down here, but savings accounts "up there" where it counts, or 2- they should allow their students to pursue professional positions without feeling like a goy or a failure.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I was published!!

Check out this week's Jewish Press' Teens and Twenties page for the butchered version of my "With Honors" piece. Of course, I was a coward and didn't let them publish my name. But I did NOT tell them to call me a "Former Graduate" or to butcher the thing and add the last sentence. But I'm glad I was published :-)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Another Graduation

Yesterday, I attended another high school's graduation. In the beginning, the principal told us that they usually announce each girl's job, but this class requested that they don't do that. Good for them. I like that. They all knew what they did. Their families knew what they did. Why hurt the girls who were never chosen for anything (uh-hum, like MOI)? So that's the positive for the day.
Now, one thing I don't understand is that they told the girls to wear short skirts. (Not mini-skirts, but not to down to their ankles, or more accurately, 4 inches above the ankles) But the gowns were long, and-GASP-had slits in them. The zipper started about 7-10 inches from the bottom, so the rest was left open. As the girls walked up the steps, the gown did the same thing a skirt with a slit does-showed their legs. And, get this--their pet peeve about slits is that it opens and closes and that flashing image draws attention--- well, what do you think it was like as they walked up the steps, "now you see 'em, now you don't..." and they were all wearing nude stockings.

There were men in the audience, so they seriously have no argument...even though they always argue that you have to be b'tznius even when there are no men around. Jeez, I coulda worn my denim skirt with the slit in the front, and they had no right to say a word!

Okay, but think of it this way. What's the solution? Say they didn't allow gowns for that reason, people would tell them to chill out. If they would have the gowns specially made, it would cost more money, and the girls were be resentful, and think, "get a freakin' life, people."
Ok, I just realized something. Duh. At my own graduation we had to wear a long black skirt, or a uniform skirt...(same thing) it totally makes sense. Ok, so my school did one thing right.

I also thought it was weird that they had a hebrew speech, a yiddish speech, and about 4 english speeches, by the students alone, and a gazillion others. Yawn.

Then, they called the girls up by row, randomly, and said their names quickly as they strolled across the stage. So I thought it was impersonal, but my friend liked it because this way you couldn't tell one from the next, no one was pointed out (actually the Rabbi said about one girl, "I'm gonna miss her. " Don't ask questions, people.) to be more special, or anything else. At ours, we had a female calling out the names and we each received our individual kisses, from her and the others on the stage, which I thought was more heartfelt.

But then again, the kiss was following the silence that shouted my faliure. Plus, each girl got a different kiss. Some were warm, some were forced... the usual. I think mine was warm because by then, (when they wouldn't have to deal with me anymore) they came to realize my sincerity and my value for frumkeit.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

With Honors

This time of year reminds me of my high school graduation. I sat there in my seat surrounded by my fellow graduates. As they announced the names, I mentally ordered myself not to trip while walking up to get my diploma. That was not enough to block out the announcements which lit a fire of fury inside me. The 5 preceding girls' names had little memos attached to their names, "______ _______, with honors...._______ ______, with honors...and it went on to "Me, [long pause]and continued _______ _______, with honors." Oh, and all the little jobs they had, too, "G.O. President, Chesed head..." (all that stuff that I didn't want anyway because they don't let you do ANYTHING!)

Thanks a lot lady! So not only did I want to burst out crying, think about my parents, and the other 15 people whose grades weren't announced in front of 300 people. We felt like garbage. We had to face our families in the audience after the ceremony. Nobody could forget that audible silence, which seemed to say, "She didn't achieve a 95 GPA, so she's stupid..." Well, I'm SO-RRY that I couldn't memorize every Gadol's lineage back to the Avos. And every female's maiden name along the line. The other girls must have also had tough critics to face. Can you imagine what shame, guilt, and anxiety fell over us? All that horrible negative, hurtful emotion-just to honor the smart kids who already know they're smart? They can read. They see their report card, is that not good enough?

I graduated from a class of 40. According to my calculations, which might not be accurate-for obvious reasons- 15 girls didn't graduate "with honors." In which case, keep your mouth shut. If it's the other way around, go right ahead, show off, especiallyt if I'm one of them, but when it's such a majority, SHUT UP.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Part 1

I was stocking up on stuff for Shavuos in a local kosher supermarket. I had a lot of stuff, so I had someone help me to the car. "Wow, it's nice out here," he initiated. "Nice? It's hot!" I responded, and we proceeded to discuss the uniform for the supermarket and other minor things. After we put the bags in the trunk, he told me that he had been working there for nine months, and I was the first person to actually give him time of day (or actually talk to him). I literally almost cried. Why do we gain a reputation like that? Why do some Jews feel that they are soo above everyone else that they can't even exchange pleasantries!

Also, last semester I became friendly with a girl in my class. After a week or two, I asked if she was Jewish. She then admitted that the first day, she was a little cold to me because the other orthodox Jews she had been in class with her did not respond to her. They ignored her, or brushed her off.

I am no Tzadekes, you know and I know...I am just giving examples from my personal life about how it is so important to make a kiddush Hashem wherever we go. One good way to do that is to treat people well.

I also read somewhere, I don't remember where, a letter to the editor that an attendee at a Simcha received a compliment that the Jews always treat the waiters with respect and thank them, and things like that, so that kind of allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. I just think it's important for people (Jews and non-Jews alike) to treat people with respect.

On a side note, last year, I had a few friends over for a Shabbos meal. My parents were away, so it me, my friends, and my older brother who was about 22 at the time. I'm not saying these kids had to hit on him and flirt all day. But some girls enraged me by their behavior. They didn't say Good Shabbos to him, didn't even look him in the face, and they even shifted the chairs so that they don't come in a 10-foot-radius of him ( he's not ugly, and he doesn't smell, either). They never asked him to pass anything. They basically treated him like he wasn't there. Once he left the room, it livened up. I thought that was so rude. I know one of my friends in particular, she knows who she is, and she knows I appreciate it--is always friendly to my brother. She talks to him like a mentsch, even engages in deep conversation, but does not flirt at all. Why is this not common practice? We're all brainwashed that talking to boys is soo wrong and bad and all that, but ignoring someone (especially your friend's 100% harmless brother) is worse in my book. I look at those girls as rude, and the girl(s?) who actually spoke to him as fine Bais Yaakov girls. They understand that you have to be a mentsch, and treat everyone like they're human.

Now, just to undo a little judgementalness, I know they did not mean to be rude and all that, and they were shy...just pointing out another glitch in the system we call Bais Yaakov.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Rage Against The Jeans

Okay, so, denim is not the right "Ruach," right? So why is it okay to wear in camp?

In high school, they preached all about how denim is not the right ruach, it's not for princesses, and blah, blah, blah. Those lovely Smart-alecks--ahem, teachers- knew exactly what they were doing-they did such a great job at showing us how bad denim is, that I own more denim than I can keep track of.

In fact, I debated the whole denim issue in Seminary one day this year, all while wearing a denim skirt (the one I am wearing now---hmmm). And this teacher agreed that denim is not the right "ruach," and you would never see a princess in a denim skirt, yadda yadda yadda. But to redeem herself, just so we don't think she's "crazy or anything, " she admitted that she just, "bought my 12 year old daughter a denim skirt yesterday." So don't tell me it's wrong. Don't tell me not to wear denim, if you buy it for your Bat Mitzvah.

So I don't get it. The whole thing they always tell us is that we should never forget who/where we came from, that we are Am HaNivchar (The chosen nation) and all that. If that's the case, and denim is sooo bad when you are in Brooklyn, why should you be allowed to wear denim in camp? You're still the same princess you were before you got on the bus. People say the same thing for pants, which is obviously a halacha issue, while the denim thing is an image issue. If you don't wear pants in Brooklyn, don't wear them in Florida. You bet. If you don't wear denim in Brooklyn, don't wear it in camp.

This whole not wearing denim thing is just dumb. Instead of preaching about a fabric, try telling your students about dressing b'tznius according to Halacha, not the image you have in mind for your school or whatever.

And about the guys. What's so bad about the guys wearing jeans? They don't have to be baggy and faded and all that becuase that simply doesn't look respectable. But what about nice, dark straight jeans, and those sqaure-toe shoes...(how hot!?) What's wrong with that? They still look put-together and all that. Why should guys have to lose out on wearing Jeans becuase people are going to judge them based on it?

This is what the community has come to, people. Judging people by the fabric they wear. Don't you think that's a bit much?