Sunday, May 28, 2006

Beware the Classified-Parts 2 & 3

Part 2
After alarming us with this story, she warned us that "no matter how long his beard is, and I don't even care if he eats Yoshon! You don't know what he has in mind"

Some readers have accused the Bais Yaakov system of telling us that men are pigs. Well, it's because of men like these that we're told not to trust anyone.

I was looking through some of the classifieds after that, and whereas a "frum office" used to seem appealing, now, it seemed fishy. That was a frum office, too, and look how that turned out.

But I don't even mean molestation and things like that. What other bloggers have written about what goes on at their "frum" workplaces, and what I've heard from some of my working friends, "frum office" means nothing anymore. People talk openly about sex, they curse, and interaction between the sexes sometimes can cross a line.

My teacher even said that if the guy leans over a little too close, you know something's up, and watch out for it.

Frum people aren't what they used to be.

Part 3

Another thing that I think is important about this scenario, is that I'm fortuante to have a teacher who is open enough to talk about these things. She wasn't explicit, and we knew what she was saying. She sees the importance of our safety, and instead of being in denial of men's sexual desires, she told us that we must be aware of these predators.

She's unique in the fact that she doesn't pretend to be sheltered. No, she doesn't read the Post with her morning coffee, but she is up on the times. She's extremely street smart. She learns from all experiences, her own, and others', and even shares that with everyone else.

I hate when teachers deny reality. I respect her for making us all aware of the situation. Some might say, "how can she say this to young Bais Yaakov girls...?" but that's foolish and setting them up for disaster.

None of us can judge the victim. We weren't there. Maybe he was convincing, and he seemed official and serious. But I'd say that a girl was exposed to the media in her childhood would certainly be more on guard. Would she have left? Who knows. That's why I feel some commentors haven't given the girl the benefit of the doubt (something I'm not too good at doing, as we know). Everyone seems so sure that if they were in the situation, they'd smell something right away. You weren't there. Neither was I.

I don't think the girl was dumb. I think she was sheltered. She was a victim of the taboo Bais Yaakov culture of not telling girls about men's sexual ta'avos that are not always well-contained.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Beware the Classified--Part 1

I have a great teacher in Seminary-she's the teacher that people call for advice, and keep in touch with for years. She's brilliant, and clearly learns from every experience. She is chock-full of stories which she uses to illustrate the important lessons she teaches. Here is one from her valuable reportoire.

A girl saw an ad for a job in a Jewish newspaper, working for a frum lawyer in his basement. The interview went well, and she got the job. After the first day of work, she discussed the day's events with her mother over dinner. She told her mother how he explained that he had been a doctor before he was a lawyer, and wanted to examine her to make sure that anyone working for him was healthy and well. My teacher explained that she's a slow-reacting person, and therefore she complied. Obviously, it wasn't the truth, and she was molested by this man. Upon hearing this, her mother called my teacher to ask if it was normal. My teacher told the woman that her daughter was not to go back the next day.

My teacher asked for the man's name, so that another girl would not be affected by this pervert. But the mother refused. My teacher explained that it would not Lashon Hora, and that word must get out so other girls don't have to experience what her daughter went through. This girl was affected for life. She'll never be the same. Why wouldn't her mother want to protect other young women from this horrific experience?

She was unable to convince the woman to reveal the man's name. Why? She was afraid that if this went further, her daughter's name would get out, and that it would affect her Shidduchim.

Apparently, her daughter's "shidduch" chances (only assuming on the small possibility that her name gets out) was more important to this woman than many other girl's well-being, safety, and life.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Call

I got a call earlier from some "Kiruv" organization not to be named. Not like you'll be able to figure it out anyway since there are so many. I have two things to say about this whole scenario, so I'm gonna be organized for once:

A) So, the kid from the organization(she's only 2 years older than I am) leaves a message on my machine that she got my phone number from my high school principal. So for about 30 seconds, I was flattered. "Maybe they want you to speak," my parents suggested. So I figured that she chose me (among others, but I don't know whom) since I am worldly, attend a college with non-Jews (I know, RIGHT??) and admit to watching TV on a regular basis. Maybe they'll be Mekarev me, right?

I still have a question, though. Why would she recommend me to this organization, but never think to invite me to her own school shabbatons, the one I graduated from. They've invited my former classmates to give workshops (right up my alley) or be on a panel (My mouth's too big for that) while I've had none of the sort.
Fine, so last year the secretary was pretty much burnt out, and called me whenever she needed some time off. I gained considerable experience working there, and I kinda secretly hoped that she'd offer me the job next year. After all, it's the thought that counts. Not likely.
So I came away from this thinking that I am not good enough for her own students, but I am good for people who have had a minimal exposure to Judaism. Nice.

B) So this kinda connects. I call the girl back, and I ask what it's all about. It's one of those "make a new friend" things. Not my type at all. Part of me loves the idea, but then I come back down to earth where I acknowledge my faults and realize that I don't see myself going through with it. So, ideally, sure, I'll have her come over for Shabbos, talk to her every week, become close with her, and all that, but I know realistically it won't happen. I figured if they wanted me to speak publicly, which I have never done, or give a workshop of some sort, I'd probably look into it.

So I tell the girl that I might have friends who are interested, and suggest that my principal chose me because I am more "exposed," which seemed to offend her. Then I used the word "Mekarev," which offended her, since she considered it "presumptuous," but then she emailed me the flyer, which has the word "kiruv" on it. She claims that all we are doing is exposing them to Yiddishkeit and letting them make their own choices. I don't know.

Then she tells me, "well we don't want to lose someone because someone (meaning me) was afraid to commit to doing it, or is too busy" or something like that. Kid, lesson #1 in life: Don't be obnoxious to people of whom you're asking favors.

So basically, in conclusion: 1) I'm slightly offended (yet slightly flattered) that I am good enough for people have no exposure to Judaism, but not for the girls who go to the very same school that I graduated from?
2) Am I supposed to be guilt-tripped into doing this thing? Am I right in being honest and telling her that I probably won't be able to fulfill my promises? Should I just jump in and do something totally against my nature?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"But I Don't WANNA Be a Speech Therapist!!"

It's important to note that I am nobody to predict where life will take me, and what I am destined to become. G-d is the only Being that knows all, and essentially it is what He has in mind for me. But, we still plan, obviously, because of Bechirah, etc. Please take this, as everything, with "grain of salt."

In high school, we were encouraged to attend Touro college, since it's the lesser of two evils--you know, because the idea of college altogether is technically horrific.

We were encouraged to persue---wait for it---Speech therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, blah, blah, blah. Why? So that our husbands can learn in Kollel, and we can work minimal hours and make a lot of money. Well, that's fine. If that's what you want to do. I'm sorry, but that is not what I want to do.

How many people actually want to do this? Are they happy? Some of my friends wanted to go into Speech regardless. So they're doing what they want. That's great for them. What about all the others who are pushed into it because that's the thing to do, and that's what's practical for a frum married woman? Will they feel fulfilled?

I often see married women in supermarkets shlepping their identically clad children through the aisles, and heeding pleads for cookies and nosh, kvetching, "Mommy, I want to go to home..." And I wonder. Are they happy? Do they feel fullfilled? I mean, sure I want to be able to be married and raise healthy, frum, spiritual, honest children, and take pride in their Middos and Mitzvos. But I just don't know how these women really feel.

I know a girl who was always a super-genius. Supposedly, she scored a 180 on her LSATs, (for those who don't know, that's the highest score) and went to Yale Law School. She's a praticing lawyer, and so is her husband. I remember hearing her complain that she never gets to see her kids. Does a couple need 2 lawyers' incomes to "make ends meet"? Obviously not. But nobody wants to live just having ends meet. I understand that.

She's smart. She's ambitious. Should her extraordinary brainpower be wasted on changing diapers all day? Absolutely not. But should her children not be able to see their own mother for hours and hours? Should they be raised by some immigrant teaching them Spanish/Polish/Russian, whatever?

As for me, I'm no genius, and I don't plan on being a lawyer, although I've given a passing thought once or twice. Then when I hear about my brother's stressful life in law school, I ask myself, "Do I need that?" But still, even with my Journalism and Marketing dreams. Oh how I'd LOVE to have some high up corporate position where I have to wear suits to work every day, feel "accomplished," do what I like, and come home with a great salary. Pinch me.

Let's get real here: what about my kids G-d willing? I want them to know me. I want to be there my kid says his/her first word, takes a first step, turns over...These are such valuable milestones in life. Is it more important for me to be home with my kids, or to persue what would make ME feel good?

I was amazed by an interview I saw last night. Halle Berry, an Oscar-winning actress, is quite high-ranking. She's made plenty of movies, and I'd think she feels accomplished and successful. But no, she told the interviewer that she wants to have children. Whether she adopts or not is not the point. It just shows that no matter how successful one is outside the home, maternal instincts kick in, and a successful career is NOT what will make a person happy. Maybe in the beginning, but somehow, it comes down to having children.

Hence, the grand ol' argument in frum society, should a woman persue a career so she can feel fulfilled, or should she stay at home and change diapers? It seems like the only compromise is the Touro Therapies route. So he has her so-called career, but is still home for the children.

Certainly, there's NO such thing as waiting until you're somewhat settled in your job before dating or trying to get married. Because as soon as the next crop of Seminary girls come home, you're even more of an old-maid. Even if you're just 22.

I know that in Manhattan, there is a large singles community who chose the career route, and now are looking to get married. So that's not the solution.

So what happens to those who have career goals that require more than a few hours a day, and also want to live the "Jewish Dream" of raising healthy, adorable children, and not missing a precious milestone or moment?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


In my early teens, I was obsessed with the accessories store Claire's. They sell everything there, headbands, clips, keychains, jewelry, etc. Among their collections, one was a whole bunch of stuff that said "WWJD" on it. I thought.... and I wondered...what does it stand for? Is it like DKNY? Most was sold loose, lined up on a little pole, with nothing but a price tag. I found something that had a printed cardboard backing to it, and it solved my mystery: "What Would Jesus Do?" the bracelet reminds the teen. So, before you go cheat on you bio test, just ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" and think that he wouldn't dare cheat, and be inspired not to do so.

Well, I was thinking, hey, I should market, "WWMD" for What Would Moses Do? (LeHavdil!!!)but there are two issues with that: 1) WMD has come to mean Weapons of Mass Destruction, for those of us who read newspapers, and 2) Unfortunately, today, that wouldn't work. Only "WWLD" What Would Lindsay (Lohan) Do? might be reliable. But I would NOT want my kid thinking that way. So nothing Biblical would work, just like the WWJD's don't. (LeHavdil)

I mean, we hear all these Meshalim, and things to remind us that G-d is watching us, and we're told to think about our Gedolei HaDor, and what they would do. My brother and I once had a conversation about this. Just today, when I yelled at my little brother for hitting the basketball against the wall outside when he knew I was in that room, because of that talk we had, I was thinking, "A Gadol would just not say anything, or perhaps say something really softly and calmly, not like, 'What are you doing, you idiot?' like someone I know."

Well, I know a great acrynom to put on bracelets- WWSS. "What Would the Shadchan Say?" Yep, I thought that one up yesterday on my way home from school. I was on my way home from the ice cream store, and was eating an ice cream cone, yes, in the street. Shout all you want, it was delicious. [My only objections were, a) the fact that I bought 1/2 gallon in pathmark for $2.99, and paid $1.50 for a freakin ice cream cone, and b) the fact that it shows that I gave in to my Ta'avos. I should have waited to get home, just so I should not have the instant gratification. So beat me up for those two.] and I was thinking, just about a millisecond, "What happens if someone sees me now?" or, this morning, my mother asked that I buy the meat for Shabbos, so I went at 8:00 in the morning, and forgot to put on make-up. Then I see all these people dolled up, and think, "What's the Shadchan gonna think?"

Unfortunately, this is what Jewish society in Brooklyn has come to. An 11th grade Bais Yaakov kid was telling me she wasn't going to do something because of her Shidduch resume. Are you freakin' kidding me? My biggest problem in 11th grade was competing with the kid next to me to do better than her in Spanish! Come on! She's so concerned? I'm 20, and I'm not going out of my way to impress these people. But if when I turn 21....j/k

It seems that everyone's more concerned about the Shadchan than they are about G-d! As you might recall, I wrote about my sandal situation last Summer. The kid didn't wear sandals because of Shadchanim. She told people/Shadchanim that she didn't go to the movies when she had seen more movies in the theater in the last 6 months than I had seen my whole life. Ironically, who's the one that says she goes to movies? I say it. I saw ONE movie in 2005,(It was Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in case anyone wants to attack me for seeing something "inappropriate"). So far zero in 2006. But, since I don't see the whole B.S. story against movie theaters (another one of my earlier posts) I say that I go. But I'd probably go once a year if at all.

--Which could lead me to my whole 'They're obsessed with the Shadchan bec. they're obsessed with getting married, bec. they're treated like a dimwit because they're not married and pregnant at 20..." but I'll save that for another post. Even if I did just summarize it in about two lines!