Here is another tale of living on the edge from the inimitable Fisch (aka: Semi-BY Girl).
For those of you that haven’t read the last article on her, Rebetzin Hertz is the penultimate Bais Yaakov role model and teacher. She teaches in Bais Yaakov so that she can support her husband as she has been for the last several decades. Once she’s there, she uses this as an opportunity to educate easily mold-able students into the next Rebetzin Hertzs — ideally replete with the short synthetic wig, hat on top of sheitel covering, and top button closed up to where her chin meets her throat.
As previously mentioned, her lessons included such important texts as Aishes Chayil to give over her messages.
So on this day the subject at hand was our future careers. After all, we were in 11th grade and, as in any other school, career guidance and counseling was seen as the utmost importance (HA!) I’m not sure whether this actually connected to her lesson or she took some time off to discuss the important matter of our careers but that was the topic of the day (or probably part of the lecture. I definitely tuned out the rest.)
“When you finish Bais Yaakov,” I heard her drone. “What will you do for parnassah to support your husband in kollel?” My head raised above my notes (and by notes realize I’m referring to either some kind of to do list, journal, or that game where you draw a 10×10 square and have to see how close you can get to 100? Anyone know what I’m talking about? Good times.) “Yes indeed,” I wondered. “What will everyone else do after Bais Yaakov?” Curious to see what my classmates would say, I paid attention.
“Well the best thing would be to work in Bais Yaakov High School if possible. Its a good idea to remain in a kosher environment with all the same role models you had teaching you and be able to increase your ruchniyus level from there.” I nod solemnly as Reb Hertz looks around the room to gauge reactions.
It probably wasn’t too difficult to conjure up the appropriate solemn face when envisioning remaining in high school for years and years with all your teachers.
“The elementary school is another good option. There you can also remain in a kosher environment while molding precious Bnos Yisrael bderech avoseinu (probably not her exact words, but sounds about right, huh?)
“It is hard to get these jobs though. Of course, everyone wants to teach in Bais Yaakov post graduation. (Me: stifles giggles while retaining appropriately serious face.)
“So if you can’t find this kind of job you can always start a Gan, playgroup. Or work with kindergarten or preschool age kids. These are the best jobs for you.” I continue to nod somberly while she continues.
“And while some may say you can work in an office I believe this is very questionable. An office has (lowered voice) MEN (loud stage whisper) and they can chas vshalom end up in the cubicle next to you… and one day they run out of pens and they ask you for one! and the next day it’s paper clips they ran out of!! and before you know it you’re having a conversation with them! And don’t say this can’t happen to me I’m a Bais Yaakov girl. Yes you may end up having a conversation!”
As I’m looking around to gauge how many kids are buying into the dramatics of this (answer: everyone, even I was sort of getting nervous. Conversations with strange men seemed awful the way she was putting it.)
I waited until after the questions (“But I can surely lend them a pen without starting a conversation?!”) to ask one of my own. I adopted my classic expression: innocent, wide eyed puppy dog look complete with gentle quizzical tone of voice: “But what if I want to do something else? Something that requires… college?”
The whole class was silent. Heck even Rebbetzin Hertz was silent. And as we sat there in silence, the bell rang!
“Oh well,” I figured. “She probably didn’t have an answer anyway.” And I stood up and headed to the door….only to hear a wheezy voice…. “Fisch?” I turn around. Reb Hertz was looking at me expectantly. Darn. That conversation was supposed to waste class time, not recess time. I sighed to myself and headed over to her desk.
“Why would you want to go to college?” Reb Hertz asked, as if trying to figure out the conundrum that is me. Clearly no one ever asked her this before. I adopted the doe eyed look. “Well, I want to study things.”
I guess in hindsight I could have picked a better answer but I didn’t even think of not going with the truth. “Psychology.”
“Psychology?!” She looked horrified. “There’s all kinds of apikorsus and lies in psychology!”
“Oh? Like what?”
Clearly, she had no idea. “Lies,” she repeated. “Apikorsus.”
I pretended to consider this and nodded gravely. “Ok,” I said. “I guess I’ll see what to do.” I gave her one last innocent look and the conversation seemed to be over (and so was my time frame for a teacher conversation during recess — 30 seconds) so I headed back to the door to my break.
This reminds me: I tried the college question in another class, also with fun results! Stay tuned!
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