Category Archives: things that make you go “oy”!

Abuse in the Yeshiva System

This story Surviving Bais Mikroh happened in a yeshiva in Monsey, where I live. I personally cannot vouch for the veracity of this story, but having heard many similar stories about this and other yeshivot – nothing in it surprised me. None of my children attend or have attended Bais Mikroh.

When my children were younger it was brought to my attention that one of the Kindergarden rebbeim was hitting the kids at the yeshiva my boys attended. One of my kids had made an offhand remark “Chaim Yankel didn’t sing the tune right so Rebbe hit him, and then he cried, and then the bell rang for recess….”

I stopped him, and asked if Rebbe often hit the kids. He told me yes, that’s what happens in big boy school. I was floored. I tried to explain to my 6 year old that NO REBBE has the right to hit a child – and he hit these kids across the face!!

I knew what I had to do, and I suffered for doing the right thing. I called the school social worker, letting him know what was going on, and telling him I was headed up to the school to take them to task. The social worker did not work for the school, but answered to a local agency. Getting them involved was paramount – if it had been just me, one parent, lodging a complaint at the school, the problem would have been swept under the rug.

Oh did I forget to tell you? NONE of the other parents in the class, including the parents of the boys that had been hit, were willing to stand with me. No one was willing to stand up for their kids. My kid had not been hit, and I was willing to stand up. I was disgusted. I had parents calling me, thanking me for doing this, because their kid had been hit too – but when I asked to put their name forward, for them to make a phonecall to the social worker, they refused.

I spoke with the principal and the social worker at length. I was not willing to be brushed off. Soon after I received threatening phonecalls, that I need to stop my personal vendetta (!!) against the rebbe and drop my complaint. He has mouths to feed, responsibilities – how dare I try to take that away from him?

How dare he hit our kids? How dare they blame ME for complaining?

“We’ll chase you out of town, your name will be mud here” – if it saves one kid, it would have been worth it. They were full of BS anyway – push came to shove they had to shut up because it was all TRUE.

Because it wasn’t MY kid that was hit, and none of the other parents came forward, there was little that I could push to be done. It was frustrating. They got the teacher into anger management classes, and upon my insistence, never left the rebbe alone with the kids. There was always another adult present. They never, not for one moment, denied that he hit the kids.

My kid was transferred to a parallel class, and my younger kid(s) were not assigned to his kindergarten class.

What horrified me the most were the parents. Your child was hit. Across the face. Some more than once. And you are willing to sit there and take it? And you are willing to allow him to continue to hit other children? Because you are afraid of making waves?

Our children are worth everything – if we do not protect them, who will?

Heinous or Harmless?

Read: Fury at Hasidic dress codes.

Do you think store owners have the right to go above and beyond the standard “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”? Or is it totally their call – if they don’t want business from people wearing clothes that do not adhere to their own modesty standards, should that be their choice?

 

Wolf Whistling

Stepping out of the home office to walk to the mail box breaks up my day somewhat. Usually I don’t see a soul at lunchtime.

Walking back to the house a truck drove past me, with a male co-religionist behind the wheel. He slowed the truck and wolf whistled at me.

I came inside and complained to the KoD – and he laughed. My oldest son thought it was funny too (probably for different reasons). Why do they find it funny while I am insulted? I would never ever whistle at someone I drove past or walked past. It’s just not right. I just felt objectified and well, icky.

Would I have felt different if it was today’s equivalent of Fabio or Marky Mark whistling? $64,000 question there….

More “Beauty” Reflections

(This is just a train of thought, a stream of consciousness….follow along as I wend and weft my way)

When I get dressed up, made up, put on the fancy hair and the 4 inch heels – who do I do it for? Do I do it for my husband? Do I do it for myself? Do I do it for the baalei simcha (hosts) if I’m going to a wedding? Do I do it so that I don’t embarrass myself / my KoD / my children and therefore do not ruin my sons’ shidduch chances?

I would say each of those statements (other than the shidduch chances) plays a part. My husband loves me when I look drop dead gorgeous (just like I love to see him in a suit) and loves me after I have been throwing up all weekend long with the flu and look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards, twice. I don’t need to look my best for him to continue to love me. He doesn’t love me more when I put in more effort to my appearance. However, if I gave up trying to look good the minute that  wedding ring was firmly on my finger, what would that have said?

I love to dress up occasionally. Not every day. But when I spend the best part of a week in pajamas denim skirts and tees and bandannas (working from home is great), sometimes it is nice to clean up, and make an effort. When the make up goes on, the hair and the heels and the nice clothes – I feel better. I feel more confident. I feel more beautiful. I feel good. I look in the mirror and I am happy with what I see. (Mostly. I am female, after all, and I do tend to see imperfections all over the place).

I have a quirky sense of style. Most of you don’t know that. I have toned it down a lot, for various reasons. One of them was that I moved to a new place and I wanted to fit in. Ugh, just writing that makes me feel like I sold out. But it is all part of the puzzle. We all want to fit in, yet we all want to be unique.

G-d gave me this body, this face, this life. I am blessed – after four kids I still have a trim figure. Yes, a plastic surgeon could lift things and put them back to where they used to be, do some botox, a nip and a tuck here and there but this is who I am.

Make-up enhances that which we have been given. Nothing wrong with getting eyebrows shaped, hair straightened, teeth bleached, and learning how to apply make up properly. We all need the boost that we get from knowing that we are looking our best. Not society’s judgement of best, but OUR best.

Advocating for plastic surgery to fix that which G-d gave us – how dare we second guess Him? How dare we tell Him that our daughter would look better with a smaller nose, with her ears pinned back, with smaller / bigger breasts? G-d created us ALL in His image – when did He go for plastic surgery? Where in the Torah does it permit elective surgery?

In fact, it’s a discussion if one is halachically permitted to go for such procedures. If it’s a physical need, like a deviated septum, there’s no question. Emotionally, from what I remember (and I am no rabbi so don’t quote me) if the distress is large enough to impact a person’s life if they don’t have the nose job / ear pin / cosmetic procedure then it’s possibly permitted. But to just do it because the shadchan says?

Every time my kids have had to have surgery (and there have been three surgeries that I recall) for PHYSICAL necessity I discussed it back and forth with the doctors to make sure the risks of doing it were worth the outcome. But, how can you compare a necessary appendectomy with an elective nose job? You can – they are both surgery with risks associated with anesthesia. Neither should be entered into without careful consideration.

You know, it’s days after I read Ms Halberstam’s original article and I am still boiling mad. Girls are already made to feel that anything over a size 4 is not good enough, and if this kind of ridiculous pressure is increased on girls to be a certain way – there won’t be any mothers for our grandchildren, or wives for our sons. Anorexia is already a problem. How many girls are we going to lose under the knife?

My grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to complain to me about my size while I was growing up. In Hebrew he’d say “there’s nothing to hold on to”. No man would want me unless I had more meat on my bones. Oh how times have changed. It just makes me so sad.

I can only influence my four boys the right way – what about everyone else out there? Will my boys look for a slim woman because their mother is tall and slim? Or will they look for character and soul over physicality? I just pray they make the right choice for them.

Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

I don’t even know what it is supposed to be!! Do you?

Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

Modesty in Teaching?

In many yeshivas, the boys call each other by their last names, to the point that sometimes they don’t even know their friends’ first names. There’s been many a time that I have answered the phone and been asked if the kid on the other end can talk to “ExLastName” – “which one? there are four?” -“The one in my class” 🙂

But that’s a boy thing, apparently. I recently heard the following. In a local boys’ school, for the higher grades, one of the secular studies teachers happens to be female. She has told the parents of the boys that she will NOT call their sons by the first names because it would be a breach of tzniut, modesty. Calling them by their last names only apparently adds a few degrees of separation – especially with 7th and 8th graders. Even when speaking with the parents she uses the last name for the boy.

When I go to a parent teacher evening, or speak to a teacher on the phone, if they referred to my kid by his last name only I would be offended. I cannot control what happens in the classroom, but when you are talking to ME about MY kid you had better know his given name.

Is this ridiculous? Or understandable? Your thoughts please.

 

Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

Wednesday’s Wacky Sign

This made me laugh so hard….. Do I annoy you, dear KoD? Not *that* much? OK… 🙂