Even a Thimble on the Cheek Needs Censoring

After last week’s post about Georgie Porgie’s antics being censored, someone told me about the censorship in her bais yaakov.

“Fahrenheit 451 was censored, in spite of the obvious irony,” she noted.

Whenever a book was censored, the office staff would have to go through each volume and cross out the offending words. For particularly vituperative tomes, parental volunteers were requested to assist. Books were therefore never available on time, and literature teachers perpetually behind on their curriculum.

But that was preferable to the students reading things like the following paragraphs from Peter Pan, from which a single word was excised four times:

“I think it’s perfectly sweet of you,” she declared, “and I’ll get up again,” and she sat with him on the side of the bed. She also said she would give him a kiss if he liked, but Peter did not know what she meant, and he held out his hand expectantly.
“Surely you know what a kiss is?” she asked, aghast.
“I shall know when you give it to me,” he replied stiffly, and not to hurt his feeling she gave him a thimble.
“Now,” said he, “shall I give you a kiss?” and she replied with a slight primness, “If you please.” She made herself rather cheap by inclining her face toward him, but he merely dropped an acorn button into her hand, so she slowly returned her face to where it had been before, and said nicely that she would wear his kiss on the chain around her neck. It was lucky that she did put it on that chain, for it was afterwards to save her life.

I remember when we watched Hamlet, the teacher tried to fast forward a particular line in one of Hamlet’s conversations with Ophelia. She couldn’t get to quite the right spot on the other side, so after some back and forth she gave up and just played right through it. Naturally, we all missed the subsequent lines, as we buzzed quietly among ourselves trying to figure out what the offending phrase might have been.

What got censored in your high school?

Even a Thimble on the Cheek Needs Censoring

14 thoughts on “Even a Thimble on the Cheek Needs Censoring

  1. We censored “Georgie Porgie.” I never knew the song existed until I heard my son listening to it on Starfall. “KIssed the girls and made them cry.”

    1. You don’t kiss a girl without her permission. You don’t touch anyone in a way that they don’t like.
    2. If you see that the girls are crying because you kissed them, why are you continuing? When someone cries, you stop bothering them and make them feel better. Georgie Porgie needs to say sorry.
    3. Even if you did continue, why is that a good thing that a song should be made out of?

    We are religious Jews, yes. We don’t believe in chilling with the other gender before you are dating for marriage, or kissing etc., before marriage.
    But we censored Georgie Porgie because he is a rude kid, and those aren’t behaviors we want our son learning.

    Just sayin’.

    [We also don’t like any characters except Thomas and his friends, because the rest of the lot seems to have no real life lessons in it, and seems, in fact, to teach the opposite of what we want to be teaching.]


    1. Bad4Shidduchim says:

      1, 2, and 3 all apply to tickling as well.

      We are religious Jews, yes. We don’t believe in touching the other gender before you married. We should censor Georgie Porgie out of the play entirely because he is a rude kid and those aren’t behaviors we want our children learning.


      1. You’re right. We didn’t change “kiss” to “tickle,” we just said, “No Georgie Porgie, he’s a mean boy, and we don’t allow you to listen to the song.”


  2. We actually read the uncensored version of “Hamlet.” My Bais Yaakov didn’t seem to want to spend the money on all those blackout markers. Our English teacher, while frum, was not standard BY issue; she assigned roles and the poor gal coughed and wheezed her way through that passage. I think the teacher made her read that specific segment to make a point.

    We also read “Fahrenheit 451” (uncut!) at some point in elementary school, but I completely forgot it.

    Without censorship, they still managed to push “sitting and learning” as the only viable lifestyle choice available.


    1. Bad4Shidduchim says:

      Some of our teachers left the swear words in. It was always interesting to see how students reacted: whether they read the word or substituted. One theory went that you were reading it, not using it, so it was like “Beis El” – you can say it. The other school of thought was that you should never let such language pass your lips lest you become acclimated to it.

      My, third, school of thought wondered why “damn” was a bad word for Jews who didn’t believe in damnation. Wasn’t that Christian influence?


      1. Honestly? Hilarious. I think everyone has swear words. Either you use the ones others made up, or you make up your own. Yiddish, for example, is probably one of the dirtiest languages out there. Hmm, I don’t know if it’s Christian influence. I guess it probably is, but is that a bad thing? If I don’t believe in damnation, what’s wrong with me saying “damn it”?


      2. Bad4Shidduchim says:

        Never understood that myself. Saying “hell” should be about as bad as saying “Hades” for a nice Jewish girl.


    2. The question is, what do you pay the most attention to?
      It’s like this: A kid comes back with a bad word. (For instance, today he came back saying, “YouTube is a kedeisha, YouTube is kedeisha, YouTube a kedeisha,” and kedeisha is a made-up word, except it’s not. Or when he said, “sheitel,” except that he shortened it to “sheit,” and turned the long ‘a’ into a short ‘i’, by accident. Or a girl we know, who, at four years old, didn’t say the ‘r’ in “fork”, and said the short ‘o’ like a short ‘u’.) If you make a big deal of it, it becomes a cool thing, important, and a big deal. If you ignore it, it passes, pretty fast.


  3. Talia says:

    By us none of our books were censored, even Hamlet, except for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. They photocopied every page for every girl in the school and crossed out all the bad words. (Note that most girls had already read the book in its uncensored form.) They missed one word and someone noticed and told them and they collected them and never returned them.


    1. I hadn’t read the book yet and everything that was crossed out I basically imagined way worse stuff than there turned out to be once I read the actual book…
      The worst part was that I had to read the uncensored version in order to figure out the plot, because the whole affair part was censored out.


  4. While reading Pride and Prejudice a teacher had a girl recite Mr. Collins proposal, and he says the “the sex of women” or something of the sort, the girl fumfered over the word sex, our teacher repeated the passage and this time stressed the word sex in annoyance…went to a VERY BY school but literature wasn’t censored that much – Rashi’s were.


  5. claritchka says:

    The situation at my school was pretty weird. Our English teachers were actually pretty literary, and were given a lot of latitude in regard to what they could teach. However, it was still a pretty yeshivish BY, and a situation arose where the students themselves often would object to the content. We read quite a few of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets (which are of course rich with crude imagery) but that kind of went over most girls’ heads. They were all up in arms about reading Pride and Prejudice, though. 🙂

    The situation is even more peculiar at Touro College. The professors there are much more secular and literary than any BY English teacher, and the students are exposed to literature that is wayyy out of their narrowly defined comfort zone. I remember tons of students outraged about the mythological and religious content in the Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance lit courses. There was only one time I can recall where the administration actually intervened, which was when a professor wanted to read Lolita. They told him he couldn’t, so he substituted it with Pale Fire–which, hilariously enough, has just as much sexual content. Only it’s of a more homosexual slant. 😛


  6. Bad4Shidduchim says:

    Heh. But Touro was still pretty censored. I did a course on Restoration Drama there, and the plays we didn’t do were basically pornographic. Also, in the 17th century lit class, there was a poem in our book that we didn’t cover that *was* pornographic. (It’s called The Vine and I think it’s a Herrick. Google at your own risk.)

    When I took an English course in NYU, pornography was not an inhibitor. If anything, the professor went straight for it.


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