The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

Another one from Rose, who learned from her principal what is important to obsess over. 
We had an interesting principal.
One time our teacher didn’t come so she came in and told us to all get a Tanach.
“Open to the last Perek of Achrei Mos.” That’s the list of forbidden relationships.
She made us go around and read it all in both Hebrew and in English.
Then she gave us a speech that lasted two periods.
She went on about how the Torah wastes no words on these forbidden relationships. How harsh the punishment is. How we create gedarim go keep us away from them.
She pointed to two pillars on opposite ends of the room.
“If that one is tumah, and that one is tahara, then every geder around tumah pushes us closer to tahara.”
“Maybe it’s not necessarily true that  brushing someone’s hands while getting change will lead to znus, but talking to a boy in a pizza shop definitely will.”
I remember once she was talking about gedarim and she turned to the 12th graders and said “I just gave my Achrei Mos spiel to the ninth graders. Remember how uncomfortable you were? Now you understand why I do it.”
As the 12th graders filed out I overhead one say “I still don’t get why she did that.”
***
Another speech she took a period for:
She handed out printed sheets from Mishna Berura about davening in front of women.
“The reason that I can’t be in the room with my husband while he’s davening is so he shouldn’t have sexual thoughts about me. Similarly with keeping my hair covered in the house, in case he has to make a brocha.”
It was a weird thing to say to a bunch of ninth graders. If there was one thing we were pretty sure about, it was that nobody every had any sexual thoughts about any of our teachers.
***
Our school rulebook said socks should be “blue or black and shoes should be invisible in design.”
I remember in ninth grade I was so idealistic I spent days shopping for shoes that were the same color as my socks and even the stitches matched my socks so you almost couldn’t see them… my mother would joke for years about my shoes being invisible.
Anyway it was silly sock day, which means we wore colorful socks because of something to do with GO or Mishmeres.
In honor of silly, sock day, I went shopping for duck socks specifically.
Apparently nobody cleared this with the principal. So on Silly Sock Day, she was astonished to discover us all walking about brazenly in colorful, patterned, illustrated socks. She stopped a few students in the hall and asked about the socks situation — is this a new trend?
She was assured they would disappear tomorrow — it was Silly Sock Day.
She laughed. “I don’t mind girls expressing themselves with harmless trends. Only when it’s overtly sexual.”
Given how some high school principals are, I guess I should be grateful that she couldn’t think of anything overtly sexual about silly socks.
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The Time Our Principal Was a Little Obsessed With Sexuality

Competitive Davening

Esther: I was talking to some friends recently about this, and during the course of the story-telling, I realized how strange it was, and that it had never occurred to me how strange it was, that we had constant supervision during lunch hour. And during recess, whether we were inside or outside. We never had a free moment. We even had to ask if we had to use the bathroom during lunch. Anyway, here’s the story.

My elementary school was so large that grades had lunch at different times, and in multiple lunchrooms. The eighth grade ate in their classrooms because there was just no space for them. But when I was in seventh grade, my grade ate lunch in the large lunchroom with the sixth grade.

We all sat class by class, at long tables arranged, as a friend pointed out when I told her this story, like the Great Hall in Hogwarts. The sixth grade was at the far end of the room, and the seventh grade tables were towards the front, near the stage. Each table was manned (womanned?) by the class’s Hebrew teacher until their English teacher came towards the end of lunch to take over.

After lunch, we were led in bentching (grace after meals) by a few girls, and then we davened mincha (the afternoon prayer).

One day, the principal who usually stood at the front of the room directing everything, from bentching to mincha to class-by-class dismissal, wasn’t there. Another principal, Mrs. Pitkin, took over. But before we could start mincha, she took the microphone and called across to the back of the room.

“Excuse me,” she said, “excuse me, why are those girls standing at the wall? Why are they already davening?”

And all heads swiveled to the back of the room, where a line of five or six sixth-graders were already standing for shmoneh esrai (the standing silent prayer). And immediately the entire room burst into gales of laughter.

Because those five or six girls were not simply standing there, they were shuckling, swaying in concentration, so hard that their ponytails were flopping back and forth over their heads and down their backs as they violently flung their upper bodies back and forth – in concentration, remember.

Their teacher waited until the noise of the laughter had died down, and then called back across the room to Mrs. Pitkin, “Rabbi Eiserman gave them permission to always start earlier.”

There was a pause as Mrs. Pitkin continued looking perplexed, and the teacher added, in a tone which seemed almost ashamed of what she was saying, “because they take a long time to daven. They, um, they have a lot of kavanah (concentration).”

How they could concentrate with hair flying in and out of their eyes, I do not know. How the hanhala could allow such a farcical exhibition of proper davening, I do not know.

Editor’s note: Oh I know how! It’s the same reason most Conspicuously Holy types get away with their shtick. What are you going to do: tell someone to be less frum? To be fair, at least some competitive daveners are probably sincere. I know that I was only ever self-conscious. 

This story written by Esther. 

Competitive Davening