Big Sister is Watching You

The Rebbetzin of my bais yaakov didn’t like seeing us out of uniform. Because then we’d be wearing denim, sweatshirts, sneakers, and she wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Better to have us wear uniforms to all school functions, even outside of school. Officially, the school required us to wear uniforms even to color war prep in friends’ houses on Sundays, which we all did, for like, one color war.  Everyone conveniently forgot that by the next year. (I think. I didn’t actually participate in color war more than once.)

Not all bais yaakovs share this “don’t ask don’t tell” approach. Some want to know everything about their students, and will do anything they can to find out.

As one ex-bais yaakov maidel put it:

“Oh yes, they stalked us everywhere. They sent staff to the mall and all over the city to make sure we had chaperones, and they also manipulated girls to volunteer themselves as tattletales. As well as a alumni student and parent network that all reported in. This wasn’t a secret. They told us, at almost every school meeting. Retroactively it sounds insane, but it made perfect sense at the time.”

I admit it, I was skeptical. Surely this was mostly scare tactic. Bais yaakov hanhala have better things to do than moonlight as the Gestapo, right? Until I had this conversation with two graduates of a completely different school:

Former Student: …also [Mrs. Teitelbaum] asked me to spy and I said no.

Graduate: She tried to make me spy too!

Me: Wait, so the spy thing is real?!

Former Student: What did you tell her when she asked?

Graduate: I kind of dodged the questions. She wanted info on a specific girl.

Former Student: I told her I wasn’t that low.

Graduate: She was like, “So why are you friends with her?” And I was like, “Well you put her as my Big Sister when I was in ninth grade — I guess it worked!” But she wouldn’t let it alone. She asked, “So what do you do together?” I said, “You know, we hang out.”

Me: And she goes, “No I don’t know, what does ‘hang out’ mean?”

Graduate: Exactly! Were you there? So I go, “We sit in her house, we eat, we go on walks, we visit friends.”

Former Student: So you didn’t exactly refuse, you dodged.

Graduate: I needed a diploma. What was I supposed to do?

Big Sister is Watching You

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