Friday, December 30, 2005

High School Productions-Part 2

My second beef with these things is that they do not know how to-or rather- care to keep secular things secular, and religious things sacred, the way they should be.

If someone is writing a performance about something from the Torah, it is beyond my comprehension how they think it is okay for them to use things from completely secular sources. When I mentioned this to people, they said, "Well, they don't want it to be nerdy, so they have to use something contemporary." Puh-leez. Let it be nerdy. Why mix in something completely inappropriate (I don't mean it has sexual content) with something as holy as the Tanach.

For example, if I am writing a play about Lavan in the Chumash, and I want the girls to sing a song about him, will I have them perform, "Gold Digger," by Kanye West? (I don't know if that relates, but you get my drift) Absolutely not.

My previous blog, "In My Humble Opinion," was really mixed up like that. I started to feel uncomfortable writing about Madonna on the same page as something relgious. You'd think I'd just stop writing about this shtus and Tumah, but I just separated it onto another blog, "Media Michelle." Hehe.

This leads to a recent discussion I had with a friend of mine. She had only Goyish music on her iPod, and told me she considered putting some Divrei Torah on it as well. I felt it would we awkward and improper to have "Gemara Shiur" right above "Green Day," because I personally feel that they should remain isolated from one another.

A few weeks ago, I had to put a bencher in my glove compartment. When I opened it up, I found a Goyish cassette tape inside. I wouldn't allow those two objects share a small space. I took my tape out and put it somewhere else. Is that stupid? pointless? hypocritical? Perhaps this is simply my Bais Yaakov education rearing its head. What do you think?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Channuka in the Brooklyn Streets

On a walk home one evening, I noticed an abundance of lit Menorahs in the windows,B"H, and I was filled with a sense of pride. I realized that the rest of the year, as hard as we try (as much as we deny it) to emulate the Goyim, we still have our Judaism inside. We may dress like them, try to eat like them, consume their entertainment, and for the most part, aim to "fit in."

But this time of year, we are "forced" to take pride in our Jewish identities. When people pass by and see our Menorahs lit, they know we are Jewish. We don't display Santa and Reindeer on our lawns, and there is no wreath on our doors. It is now, with our beautifully lit Menorahs that we declare, "I'm Jewish, whether you like it or not, and don't you forget that miracle that G-d did for my people so many years ago."

It is this act, like many other religious things we do, that unify us all. All sorts of Menorahs in the various houses, no matter how fancy, simple, big, small, or anything else, it unifies us as a people. It's reminiscent of the stereotypical example of a Minyan, where there are men from all walks or life coming together to do a holy Mitzvah. Although it's cliche, when you think about it, it's a beautiful, proud site, and I am happy to contribute to it.

Friday, December 23, 2005

High School Productions-Part 1

This is a loaded topic.

Whenever there were productions in my school, I looked at it as time off, and emptier classrooms. It was awesome having 6 kids in the class because one's off sewing, the other's painting, the other's singing.

There are mixed emotions about these things. Some feel it gives the girls time to shine, it takes the stress off school, it gives them something fun and safe to do after school, and they even get to raise money for the school in the process. Others feel that it is biased, only allowing specific girls to have their chances at the spotlight, leaving others out to rot. They feel that it distracts the girls from their schoolwork, and gets really catty.

Fortunately, I was never involved in this, because I felt it was stupid, melodramatic, and as the yeshivish would put it, "nebby." No, not Broadway-ish cool. NERDY! STUPID! POINTLESS! Don't get me wrong, I have been told I have a flair for the dramatics, and was in some skits in the younger grades. But who needs it? I have spoken to many high school girls about these performances, and only few truly enjoy them. The ones who are constantly "head of this" and "head of that. "

A few of my friends are really talented in this area. One in singing, the other in dancing. Yet, they were never head of anything. Their talents were never acknowledged. Not by head of the play, or the "heads" from our class. The same kids were always chosen for everything. The same kids were the main parts in the play--and this happens in every school in my neighborhood. So the kids who are constantly involved are happy. Others, who enjoy the sewing and other behind the scenes work, and do it every year, are happy as well. The girls who feel they have something to give, but are constantly turned away are not. And believe it or not, there are more of those than the girls who get egotrips--(which aren't good either).

Why was I never involved? I simply did not care. Don't give me this, "She's so jealous..." stuff. 'Cuz I would embarrassed to be a part of those nerdy things. Don't get me started on the intolerable grammar in those scripts, the annoying songs, and melodramatic acting, hurrendous accents, and boring dances. (No offense SS!! Luv ya, kid!) Anyway, I thought I had better things to do with my life. I did. I watched TV, I talked to the teachers, I wrote, and I had all this free time while they were all nervous about some small-scale performance.

Do these things do more harm than good?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Shidduch Crisis

I know that this post will be one of many on this topic that I have long awaited to discuss, but I don't know how many I will write. As you can imagine, I have plenty to say about this as a 20 year old single (GASP!) girl in Brooklyn.

As many of you know, the Letters to the Editor section in the Yated has been ever expanding thanks to this enthralling topic. Some write in believing that they have the ultimate solution. Others write in telling their tales of woe. Others write in that they have reached a certain age, and are happy despite the fact that they are still single.

This week, a young woman wrote in exactly what I have been feeling ever since they deemed this a "Crisis." That it does not make things any better. I have been saying that when they call it a "crisis," they make us single girls feel like, OMG, are we ever gonna get married? And that if G-d forbid, G-d FORBID! we are single by 21, it's just over. It makes you not want to START dating, knowing what hell you're in for. You're involving yourself in a crisis. You are walking into the winds of Hurricane Katrina. When people panic, it is not as easy to think rationally. When you're packing for a trip, and you're nervous and panicking, you're more likely to forget something than when you're calm and chilled out.

However, when discussing this with a friend, she took the other side of the argument and said perhaps it makes people feel better knowing that others share their plight. That can be done without alarming the whole frum population. It feels as though there are sirens blaring, and hearts are racing as each girl ages from 19 to 20, and so on.

Just 1 1/2 years ago when I was first plunked onto the market semi-involuntarily, sure, I was concerned about what's going on in the whole "Shidduch scene," and I understood I was putting myself out there risking rejection-that means that if a guy would turn me down, I can go for months picturing myself married to this guy- so I can be "happy" like my married friends are...blah blah blah. I braced myself for unpleasant experiences. I was aware of the "guy shortage."

I understand this situation is often desperate, but I don't think it should be deemed a "crisis." I consider deadly diseases a Crisis. Those are uncontrollable sicknesses that kill many loved ones, and there has yet to be a cure. That is a crisis, Lo Aleinu.

Why has this become a "Crisis"? Because of image-oriented, um, "people." In every other culture, there's no insane rush to marry off an 18-year-old girl! 18 is young! But now that so many girls have gotten married at such a young age, it has become the norm. So much so that being 21 when you get married is already above average! As for this image thing- people now associate weddings soley with the physicalities of it--sheitels, gowns, halls, glitz, glamor...and once they're married, they realize it's not all fun, games and show all the time. This because many are so young and clueless.

I have met young women my age whose ultimate goals are simply to get married. What comes after that? Another one told my friend that she doesn't walk on 13th avenue now because it's boring. Once she has her baby, (B'sha'a Tova) it will be so much fun because everyone will stop her and look at her baby and tell her how cute s/he is. Whoa. This kid must live quite the meaningful life. I remember when this kid met her Choson, the first thing she told me about him was how much money he had, then she described how much fun the date was, and all the "expensive" places he took her.

Anyway, by calling it a crisis, it just makes everyone feel so much worse about it. Why not accept it as a reality of life and try to deal with it step by step? It's a hard time. It's a difficult situation that definitely needs help. So contribute to the solution. Daven. Set people up. But a crisis? Leave that to hurricanes and terror attacks, Lo Aleinu.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

School Censorship-Part 2

In Seminary, one of my teachers asked, "How many of you heard of Yehuda and Tamar?" I looked at my friend blankly. "Does she mean Amnon and Tamar?" I muttered, confused. I remember one kid for sure who raised her hand, but there may have been a few more. The teacher was not surprised and said something to effect of, "Here we go again..." and she proceeded to explain the whole scenario.

That got our class going in a discussion about how the schools are censoring the Torah. I mean, should they have mentioned it in 4th grade? Obviously not! However, as the year progressed, our teacher revealed so many other "hidden" concepts in the Torah.

How does this differ from Part 1? There, it was secular sexual content, but here, it's in the Torah HaKedosha, and is there to teach us a lesson. One minor example-later, when my teacher was teaching us about the Simanim between Rochel and Leah, she asked if any of us knew what they were. Most of us did not. She said, "They don't teach it to you in school because one of them is Taharat HaMishpacha." She went on to explain that the Simanim were the three Mitzvot of the woman--Challah, Neirot (lighting candles), and Taharat HaMishpacha.

This sparked a discussion about our schools hiding things from us that are in the Torah. The teacher reminisced that years ago, she taught this in 9th grade, and had a mixed reaction. Some parents congratulated her for her openness, and that their children were hearing about important things in life. (She barely elaborated on Taharat HaMishpacha in the 9th grade class) She remembered one mother who called her angrily and wanted to know why her 9th grade daughter had to know about this at such a young age.

Again, this can be debated endlessly. But I think some things are beneficial for young women to learn from the Torah perspective,because this may help them learn about relationships between men and women in the proper way. Otherwise, their only source of information of these things is TV and movies where women are bodies to be taken advantage of, and sex is something that's fun and pleasurable, and sexy, rather than L'Havdil--a sacred and spiritual Mitzvah.