This is another one from Queen, she of the high school video. She entitled it “Ma’asei Avos Siman L’banim.”
It was graduation. Finally! The tyranny of Bais Yaakov was about to be over! Not that I hadn’t made some good friends and found some good teachers (a few), but I was excited to rip that tznius button open and bid my knee socks farewell for good.
On the evening of graduation, after stuffing ourselves with Chinese food at the local kosher place, my family arrived at the auditorium, raring to go. I saw my parents and grandparents to their seats and said in a mock-whisper, “make sure to hoot loudly!” I thought it would be a laugh: I was what my principal referred to as a “hooter” (NOT like the restaurant, although I made that joke a lot out of his earshot) – someone who cheered loudly instead of clapping politely like we were supposed to.
Sure enough, before the name-calling began for giving out the diplomas, our principal made his usual announcement: “please refrain from hooting or shouting, and limit your applause to clapping.” I winked at my parents, sure that they wouldn’t fail me. Wouldn’t it be a great send-off to punctuate my final moment at Bais Yaakov? I believed yes.
I was the second-to-last name called, being the second tallest in our graduating class. My family did not let me down. As I walked across the stage in my black pointed heels and immodestly long hair, my parents and siblings stood up and hooted loudly, calling my name proudly. A minute later, after the last name had been called, my principal said wryly into the microphone, “well, we can see that the tree doesn’t grow far from the apple.”
That statement was met with complete silence, except for me, who laughed. Although the principal and I did not have much in common, I think we shared a similar sense of humor. Anyway, most of the auditorium found his remark about me and my parents to be…offensive. So offensive, in fact, that a week later a letter was sent out to the entire school, apologizing for “offensive or hurtful remarks” made during the graduation ceremony. But it didn’t end there.
A few days after that letter came, my parents were called into the principal’s office. His intention, I found out later, was to reprimand them for “ruining” graduation. He apologizes for making a public rebuke, but he said that oddly enough, a well-known Rabbi of the community and his family were sitting right in front of my parents, and had been shocked and offended by my parents’ enthusiastic cheering. The very choshuve Rabbi had registered an official complaint with the school, which was why my parents were sitting in the principal’s office, getting a stern talking-to, after their daughter had graduated high school.
I love the two-prong strategy of a public apology and private upbraiding. Thank you, Queen, for this story!