Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ah-ha! So it IS True?!

By now, we're all aware of the horrific molestation that went on/is going on in our community; in our Yeshivas and camps. I don't even have to name names. But for those living under a rock, I'll spare you the Lashon Hora. (And I ask of my readers please not to mention names, as there ARE some who don't know against whom the allegations are pending)

As these rumors surfaced, more and more people took a passionate position on it. Some argued for the "victims," while others completely denied the possibility,
"No, how could that be possible?! Why would a Rebbe molest a child?"
"He's a Rebbe, a frumme frumme yid would do such a thing..." (It's called reality-look into it)
"Wouldn't all the other kids know about it? Why is this coming as a surprise to everyone if it's been going on for so long?"

Others were open to the possibility, since it IS 2006, and many priests have been accused and, you know, Michael Jackson and all that...(I know, Lehavdil!!!!!!!!)
"Why would the guy say he was molested if he wasn't?"
"No matter how much the guy could hate this Rebbe, why of all things would he choose THIS?"
"There was an article in a credible magazine about this, they wouldn't publish lies..."
"Anything is possible nowadays..."
"My friend's brother once told me..."

I can go on and on, and argue points on either side. When it comes down to it, nobody really knows if it's true. Except for those claiming to be molested. Actually, after I mentioned it to a friend once, she told me about her brother coming home with a friend's horrific story from a different Yeshiva.

What I don't understand is why haven't parents pulled out their children? And when my little brother asked his friend in this Yeshiva, he had no clue what he was talking about.
Whenever we drive past the building, my older brother jokes, "Next year---Condos!"

I don't think that place will close down anytime soon. There are too many people with their heads buried in the sand that will keep their kids there. I don't know why. I guess it's like the denial most NYers have about the whole hurricane thing, we're like, "NY can't have hurricanes..." despite numerous reports. Hopefully we won't have any, but have you seen bottled water, flashlights, and canned goods flying off the shelves? NO.

So maybe these parents think, "it won't happen to my kid," or, "Not in this Yeshiva," or, "He won't try it again after all this..."

That's how taboo this thing is.

Why is this taboo?
a) Anything relating to homosexuality or sex is taboo in this culture (besides to the Jewish Press) because there are no gay Jews, according to these people who'd rather live in denial than face important issues.
b) We are led to believe that Rabbeim are perfect angels. In fact, did you know that their children are a result of immaculate conception?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What You Say Can And Will Be Used Against You

"She does everything in her own quiet way," I raved about my friend to a shadchan or a boy's mother. I immediately regretted my choice of words. "Modest, you idiot, MODEST!" I shouted in my mind. As expected, the woman asked, as if she's inflicted by the plague, "Is she quiet?" So I had to wiggle my way out of that one. "Well, once you get to know her..." I stuck my foot in my mouth. Because the kid's not loud and obnoxious, but she can definitely carry a conversation.

Then this woman asked me, "Is she a sharp dresser?" The kid dresses well. She always looks put together, and most importantly, she is always, and I mean always, B'Tznius. She isn't Brooklyny in the way of BCBG, Banana Republic type of thing.

"What do you mean by sharp? Like put together? Yeah, she's very put together..."
"No," She interrupted. "Sharp. I'm asking if she's a sharp dresser."
"What do you mean by Sharp?" I asked again.
"You know, SHARP." She repeated.
I thought" sharp" meant "put together"." Well sure enough, she adds,
"You know, sharp, put together. " Like, LADY, I just told you that!!
"Well, then, yeah." I replied, annoyed.

I don't know how that one went.

Another woman asked me if the kid would go to a movie. She asked it in a way that would seem like she doesn't care, but for all I know, that's her ploy to get it out of me that the kid does. Now I know the kid would go to a movie. So if I lie, what good will it do? She'll go out with someone who's totally not for her?

So, sure enough, I responded, "No, she won't mind. She's cool." And the mother was so relieved, because I was focusing so much on the girls Middos that I guess she panicked and thought she was a frummak.

A boy's father once kept me on the phone for over an hour and a half asking me if there are any diseases in the family, (understandable inquiry) but dwelled on how she dresses. "Does her mode of dress reflect her personality?" he asked, after I went on and on about my friend's easygoing nature. Listen, the kid is very easy to get along with, what should I say? So I honestly "confessed" that she wears denim skirts to school. To which he responded, "men need to be attracted to their dates..." Did I say she'd wear them on dates??? Jeez! He should be attracted to her anyway. She's a pretty girl, and she's wear make-up and do her hair. She looks good in denim. She looks great in a suit too. So he won't be attracted to her because of her clothes?

As I said, what I say on these phone calls seem to be used against me no matter what!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Friggin Water Bottle!!

I was at a graduation where the Rabbi spoke of dignity and the lack of general respect displayed in the secular world. He expressed shock and dismay to witness that senators at a conference were given water bottles with no cup. (I spaced out as to HOW he witnessed this, certainly not through the "idiot box" as they call it) To him, this was a symbol of our society's decline.

Clinton's affair with Lewinsky? No. The depth of degredation people go through to be on TV? Reality shows? Not that either. The current molestation trials with Rabbeim in local Yeshivos? Why, heavens no. The women in the community being less Tzniusdik than the CEOs in Slacks and a V-neck? Nah. The increasing numbers of Yeshiva Bucherim going after porn? Negative. His very own students treating teachers like garbage? Of course not. People cheating the government out of millions of dollars? Apparently not.

No, siree, Bob. It is that our senators drink directly from water bottles. Shame on them. Can you believe how low our society has sunk? Oh, but get this, just to show how we listen to mussar oh, so very well in this day and age. A mere 1/2 hour later, I witnessed men drinking directly out of cans of diet Coke (we won't mention the sign that read, "no food or drinks allowed.")

He also mentioned an interviewer referring to President Bush and the PM of Canada as "you guys" which is extremely disrespectful and a more plausible thing to expand on. There, he could discuss the general disresepect among bochurim (obviously not about the graduates who are being told- like every other class- that they are special and blah blah blah)

Obviously, he couldn't discuss some of the things I mentioned above, because they're inappropriate. "Hey, you know your president had an affair with an intern 8 years ago?" "You know that show The Bachelor?" Obviously, that's not plausible.

Now, maybe by using the water bottle example, he was trying to show how significant and telling the small things are. Maybe some readers will tell me that I am exactly who he is talking to. Someone SO influenced by this horrific water-swigging culture, that I am not disturbed by one drinking directly from a water bottle.

It depends how far one takes it. In my seminary class, there was a girl who sometimes used a squirt bottle (The 24-oz Sport Pack type), and would lean her head back, squirt into her mouth, and practically gulp. In the middle of class. And you hear the crackling plastic as she squeezed it. Ok, THAT's rude and disrespectful. And my teacher told her to please stop. But an "aidel" sip or mouthful of water should do no harm.

One might also make the argument that it's better to start off with the small things, so we can work our way to the big things. I think the sensitivity needs to be there first. Or you might argue, "M'Toch SheLoh Lishma Bah Lishma" and if you start doing it, the sensitivity will follow.

I'm sorry, but if he thought this issue so pressing, as to open up graduation with it, he needs a reality check. Many of these schools do. Stop turning a blind eye to the real issues, and tackle them, rather than telling people not to drink out of a water bottle.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why Can't We Just Be Friends?

In my dating experience, among dishonest losers, I've met two young men with whom I'd enjoy a friendship. I would not want to live with them, or have them raise my children, but I'd certainly enjoy talking to them and hanging out once in a while.

I don't want to lead them on knowing we won't marry, but I don't want them feeling bad, because there was certainly chemistry. So sometimes I am tempted to call them, and just apologize that we're not husband and wife material, and agree to keep in touch and hang out once in a while.

I think it would be fun, and perhaps as we get to know each other, we'll be able to set the other one up with a friend, and learn and grow from one another like any other friendship. Or, on a stretch, as a result of the low expectations, and different relationship dynamic, you might come to realize that you are compatible, and choose to marry.

When I presented this idea to a friend, she asked what I think about meeting your own guy in Brooklyn College. I told her that I avoid the caf scene as well as the reading room that's known to house the "frummer" hang-out.

"Why is that any different?" she asked, "If marriage can come out of it?" I explained that I feel that in BC, you're looking to make a platonic relationship into a romantic one, whereas in the other situation, you kind of ruled out the chance of you guys getting together, and you just want a platonic relationship. There's much less flirtation involved, and it's just being friends with a guy. In BC I see the girls thrusting themselves at the guys, twirling their hair, and dressing like hobags. I also see some girls, few but existant, who talk to guys about the class they share because they're not hetero-phobes, but end it there.

It's funny, though. When I discuss this idea of the post-date friendship with fellow Brooklynites, they gasp in disblelief. Tell me it'll never work. You can't do it. Not only is it against the rules to say hello to a former date if you meet him on Avenue J, but it is certainly not okay to have friends of the opposite sex. On the other hand, in the MO communities, they've had contact with the oppposite sex all their lives, and there is nothing wrong with it. Also, Shidduchim aren't taken nearly as seriously there. So the friendships can be more platonic. Maybe I should write a post about that issue alone--relationships in MO communities...

But also in Brooklyn, keep in mind the WWSS factor-you're seen with a boy. You're either getting engaged tomorrow (because otherwise, how would you have the guts to walk Brooklyn streets together?) or you're a bad girl who "hangs out." So apparently, the only time we're allowed to have contact with guys (and I don't mean physical, obvioulsy) is on Shidduch dates? And just because the shidduch wasn't "the one" we should become strangers forever? Yes, apparently, because of our reputations. GRRR.

But I want to know what's wrong with callin the guy, and hanging out once in a while? Am I right that it differs from hanging in the caf?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Aaah, The Classic--(It's L-O-N-G)

There are oh, so many reasons I have avoided writing about this topic. But a comment from my last post reminded me of to what extremes some teachers or school programs have gone to convince us that Kollel is the only way. I am no one to discuss the argument of Hishtadlus, which leads to the Bechira discussion which I am by no means worthy of discussing either. That said, here's the rest:

In high school, as you've also heard, I was told that a "boy in law school is not a Ben Torah," but I'd sure consider a guy who works all day and learns with all his heart for an hour or two before or after work more of a Ben Torah than "learning" guys who smoke and talk stocks all day while his wife shops, and Daddy pays the bills.

I've been told many a time that I must "know my audience." In this case, I think my school should know their audience, and admit the fact that most of the girls looking for learning guys altogether, and in my affluent school, are doing so simply because that's "the thing to do" and they can. These girls are not sacrificing for Torah. They still lead luxurious lives, still doing whatever they can to avoid thinking, and worrying about how to impress the couple next door.

On a Lakewood Shabbaton a few years ago (which turned me off more than it turned me on), there was a panel,--Oh, I wrote about this once--hear me out--and one panelist reminded us that just because your husband's learning, it doesn't mean you can't still wear Burberry. Thanks for letting me know. That was my plan, marry a learning guy, and buy my kids $150 dresses to outgrow in 3 months. Now that I know my dreams can come true, I'm running to Lakewood, you shallow, materialistic idiot.

Ok, that's me. But having that girl on the panel was knowing their audience. That's what these kids need to hear. But someone has to work to afford Burberry, so will you look down on them for their "lack of Bitachon?"

Speaking of the father's working, lemme get this straight. It's okay for this girl's father to work, right? But her husband--absolutely not. She won't marry someone who will work, or who is working, but how do you think you got your Ralph Lauren sweater, my dear? Daddy's workdays. Why is it assur to marry a working guy in 2006, whereas in 1976, there was no such idea. Even in 1996--there wasn't as much as a stigma in admitting you'd allow your husband to go to work.

Don't get me wrong, I respect many poeple in the kollel system--like the man I wrote about a while ago, who has more than 15 children and continues to learn in Kollel while his family is content and simple. That is extremely sincere and admirable. Certainly, there are situations where one has to go to work sooner than he'd like, because he needs to pay bills, but those men are never happy to leave Kollel, and continue to learn every free second they have. That, my friend, is a "learning guy."

Like in school, we heard stories of people who were going to be evicted, and the day before, a check for the precise amount was in the mailbox because they had lent it to someone 10 years ago and forgot about it. Similar stories that seem unrealistic, and not something anyone wants to try on for size. "Would you like to go parasailing without a paraschute, my friend? There's a one in a million chance you'll survive." Hey, I'm not saying working will guarantee a comfortable lifestyle, but that's the whole hishtadlus business.

So why, you ask, do I not look for a learning guy? (BTW, my criteria include that he learns often, and because he wants to, not because he has to) I think, now don't all attack me at once, that if I want to do things that don't go along with learning, it's hypocritical. I don't want to pretend to be someone I'm not.

Since I'm so mixed up in my Hashkafot, I don't know if I sound like more of a hypocrite or less of one compared to the shallow fakers. I daven, I say Tehillim, I try to stay connected spiritually, yet I openly watch TV, read trash like Seventeen and Us Weekly, and go to the movies. But I try hard to dress B'Tznius, but I know that my lifestyle doesn't comply with the true meaning of a learning family.