Sorry for the Pesach break, folks. I really meant to post, but I was somewhere between a matzah-brye coma and an airline terminal pretty much the entire chag.
But now the holiday is over, and it’s time to talk about the mechaneches.
The mechaneches is the equivalent of the school counselor, but without the psychology degree. Her job is to talk to students about issues they may have, either at home or in school. I’m sure there must students who get something valuable out of this service. If you have, please let me know. Until then… here’s a story from Viva, whose mechaneches was less than understanding. Or professional.
The high school I attended had a mechanaches that was there for all the entire school. The position was basically that of school counselor but with no education in psychology or social work.
One year they decided that it wasn’t enough that the school mechaneches was available to anyone who wanted to talk; each student needed a more personal “one on one” mechaneches. They made each grade’s chumash teacher a “private” mechaneches for the grade. She would pull out each girl from her grade over the course of the year for a heart-to-heart.
That year my chumash teacher also happened to be the older sister of my closest friends. Being a normal 15 year old girl, I had zero interest in actually sharing anything personal with a stranger, let alone one who also happened to be my close friend’s sister. So when she pulled me out of class and started asking questions, I gave her non-committal one-word answers. After a while she let me go back to class and I thought that was the end of it.
A few weeks later I got a call from my friend. “You’ll never guess what just happened!”
She had picked up the landline phone to make a call, and overheard her mother and sister on the phone. Hearing my name mentioned, she decided to listen in.
Her sister (the chumash teacher and mechaneches) was telling her mother that, based on our ten-minute, one-sided conversation, she had deduced that I had a “total lack of interest in Yiddishkeit” and would definitely “be going off the derech.” She was concerned that her younger sister, my friend (the one listening in) would be dragged along with me.
Not only did she jump to this conclusion from our “conversation,” but she decided that it was her responsibility to share what should have been confidential information with her mother to ensure that her own sister’s yiddishkeit was safe.
Ironically enough, it was this sister who introduced me to some seriously inappropriate reading material as well as non-jewish music. If anyone was the bad influence, it wasn’t me.
Needless to say the school hanhala spent the next few years trying to figure out why I had such major trust issues with them.
Story provided by Viva, who is still frum, as is her friend.