This story submitted by Talya, from Israel.
It was seventh grade and I was a failure.
That’s what my sixth grade Hebrew teacher said, but she squeaked me a pass because she didn’t want to have to see me again. She wasn’t the first one. I’d been flunking Hebrew subjects for as long as I could remember. So when I got a big fat “F” on the first exam of seventh grade, I wasn’t shocked. It was business as usual.
I was counting down the grades to high school graduation. Once I had that cap and gown, I’d never have to take another Jewish subject again. No more struggling to read a sefer. No more groping to understand those impossible tests. No more being a failure.
“Talya, can you come see me after class?”
That was the teacher, Morah Minster. Inwardly, I groaned. Probably another lecture about applying myself to the material. That if I valued the Torah subjects as much as history and literature I could do just as well.
After class I took a long time putting my pens away, and dragged my feet up to the front of the room.
“You didn’t do very well on that test,” Morah Minster said. “Do you feel like you know the material?”
I shrugged. I got an “F.” What else did she want?
“Let’s do it over again, orally,” she suggested. “Do you mind?”
I shrugged again.
She started with the first question. “O-oh…” I realized. So that was what it was asking! Of course I knew the answer to that!
We went through the entire test, and I passed! She scrawled the new grade in big red letters on the top of my paper and handed it back to me with a big smile.
“So, what’s the difficulty? Is it the Hebrew?” she asked.
“Maybe we can work on that,” she said.
And she did. That whole year, she helped me work on my Hebrew skills, gave me all my tests orally, and discreetly made sure I always understood what was going on in class. Concurrently, she rebuilt my self-esteem.
She changed my entire attitude to Hebrew subjects. I’m currently in Israel for shana bet, and I’m loving it — reading sefarim and all.
This story submitted by Talya from her second year of seminary in Israel.