Things Teachers Say About Tznius

Get a bunch of grads together and throw out a line, and you will be regaled for a good hour with “things you can’t believe my teacher said about tznius.” Add yours in the comments. 

“I had a teacher… who said verbatim, ‘The heat of gehenom is worse than the heat of wearing tights.'”

“I had a chassidish teacher in 7th grade who was waaaay too extreme for the girls in my school. Once she was at our class melave malka and was horrified to see that we were all wearing nude tights. She gave us a whole mussar speech about how terrible nude tights are (although most other teachers wore them). She ended with a fiery “Only bulletproof tights are fireproof — from the fires of gehenom!’ We were like “Waaaat?” Then a girl raised her hand and said, “But Mrs.  Principal wears nude tights too. Are you going to tell her this too?”

“I was told that my jean skirt is the cause of the churban.”

“Like, retroactively?”

“No, for each generation the Bais Hamikdash is not rebuilt, it’s like we destroyed it, and in our generation, it was my skirt that did it.”


“If you Flatbush girls wear nude tights, the boys won’t know your legs are covered and may do an aveirah and then it’s your fault.”

I was wearing my hair down and my teacher said I looked like “a shloch.” I have no idea what that was so I just laughed.

“Your shirt is so tight it looks like you left it in the dryer.”

“Nail polish? Do you want to be Jewish?”

“If you think your brother isn’t attracted to your kneecaps, think again.”

Things Teachers Say About Tznius

The Time the Teacher Refused to Use My Name

I get it. I have an exotic name, and people have loved giving me trouble over it. “That’s not a name. It must be [insert similar but not the same name here].” Because I don’t know my own name, obviously. So I feel the pain of the people with these stories:

This first one is a seminary stereotype. Except in happened in Brooklyn. Granted, the teacher was probably just back from seminary, and teaching second grade — possibly as an assistant teacher.

I had a teacher who insisted that I spell my name with a kuf and a hyphen because “Elisheva” contains shem Hashem in Hebrew.

And this one:

OMG the same thing! My first name is Gabby and my second is Chava but I went by Gabby. My teacher decided my name wasn’t yeshivish enough. So the next day she came in and announced to the class that I’d be called Gabby Chava. The reason she gave to the class is that a bas Yisroel should have such a goyish name like Gabriella.

And this one, which is weird because this name is very clearly in Bireishis:

In seminary, one of my teachers decided my first name was too modern sounding (“Eden is such an unusual name. i don’t understand, why did your parents give u such a name?”)
Hence she would only call me by my second name. (Sarah).


The Time the Teacher Refused to Use My Name

The Time I Got Pulled Out of Class for Talking to the Wrong Friend

This story submitted by Esther, who has gone on to have less delicate friendships. 

In fourth grade, there was a girl I had a weird friendship with.She did all the “BFF” stuff that I didn’t think about. Not that I didn’t like it, or had anything against it. But she attached a lot of importance to it, while I flitted from friend to friend and didn’t think that made me any less her friend.

One day I spent lunchtime talking and laughing with both her and another girl. Well, I laughed with the other girl. With BFF, I barely talked because she was giving me the cold shoulder. I didn’t know why, but I was used to it, and I was in fourth grade, so I’m sure I didn’t think too long or hard about it.
After lunch, our English teacher led us back to our classroom. I attempted to chat with BFF again on the way, but she wouldn’t even look at me, and she moved to the head of the line, away from me. She was looking very sad and a little sniffly. She stayed that way all afternoon.
About a half hour into afternoon sessions — I think we were doing group work — my teacher called me out of class. We stood in the doorway of the classroom, door slightly ajar so she could keep an eye on the rest of the class, and said “Something you did during lunch is still affecting a girl in this class.”
My happy, carefree, relaxed stance went rigid. I had no idea what she meant. Honestly, I can still remember the heart-in-throat feeling. Me, of all people, who hated making anyone feel bad…
I told her I didn’t know what she meant. I hadn’t even noticed her taking BFF out of the classroom earlier because she was still upset. But she gave me no hints, not even the name of the person who I had affected so badly.
“Stand here until you remember what you did,” teacher said, and went back into the classroom.
I was on the verge of tears. I had no idea what I’d done, or to whom. But there I stayed, out in the hall, while other classes (including my older sister’s) passed by.
Eventually, the teacher came back outside, asked me if I remembered (I didn’t), and then gave up and told me. BFF said I’d been ignoring her during lunch, which made her feel bad. She made me apologize directly.
I apologized. But that was the end of our friendship. Her sullen responses to my friendships with other girls — that I was used to. What I couldn’t get over was those moments of terror thinking I had hurt another person so badly that it warranted pulling me out of class and making me stand in the hallway.
The Time I Got Pulled Out of Class for Talking to the Wrong Friend

The Time My Teacher Buttoned My Shirt

You spend a lot of time sitting around and talking on Pesach, which is how I got this gem from Adina:

“I was walking down the street [on a Sunday] and my tznius button wasn’t buttoned. Because I never buttoned it unless I was at school because it made me feel like I was choking.
I ran into a teacher coming the other way. She saw my tznius button and she… Burst into tears.”
“Burst into tears?”
“Yes, she actually burst into tears. Then she reached over to my shirt and buttoned the button (on my shirt!), while saying, ‘Adina, how could you? And two days before Rosh Hashana…'”
“She buttoned your shirt?”
“Yes, and then we each continued on our merry ways.”
“Did you unbutton it again?”
“Yes of course. I had to breath. But the tears — I thought that was a little disproportionate.”
The Time My Teacher Buttoned My Shirt

Things My Teacher Told Me: Crossed Legs are Untznius

This post is by Esther. 
In seminary, we didn’t wear a uniform. Our skirts, however, were still duty length or longer, and not too tight. Besides for the dress code, we were sitting all day, for goodness’ sake, and we needed to be comfortable.
But one day we got a tznius talk from a teacher. She stood at the front of the classroom, in front of the rows of girls sitting at attention in their desks, and spoke to us about how to comport ourselves when the person at the front of the room is a man.
“Rabbi teaches you and sacrifices a little bit of his shemiras eynayim, puts himself in the position of potentially looking at girls every day.”
He had perfected the method of charedi males of looking half off to the side when addressing women or girls directly. But she had a point. He was sitting in front of rows of young women for an hour or two every day.
She went on. “You all realize that, surely. And I understand that you want to be comfortable and you cross your legs. That’s bad enough, that you’re crossing your legs in front of a man. But then some of you bounce your foot, and do you know what that does to a man?”
No, we didn’t. And she didn’t tell us. But we got the point. We were drawing attention to the fact that we had limbs, and that those limbs moved. We weren’t behaving as proper Bais Yaakov girls do. Leg crossing, and definitely foot bouncing, had to stop.
This post is by Esther, who would like you to know that she, for one, has no limbs or anything else untoward, so don’t let your mind go there. 
Things My Teacher Told Me: Crossed Legs are Untznius

How I Wound Up Rifling Through the Principal’s Trash Can on the First Day of 9th Grade

Listening in class was my strong suite. I had it down to a science. Since my teachers repeated themselves so often, I could perk up about once every five minutes, take a few notes, and then go back to whatever I was doing, without significant consequences to my grade.

This annoyed some teachers to no end. They didn’t want us to just know the material and get good grades. They wanted us to sit up straight and look attentive and respectful. Our 9th grade parsha teacher even started the year with lessons on how she expected us to sit in class. (I think she phrased it “how a bais Yaakov girl sits in class.”) I slouched in class and doodled or wrote stories. This did not endear me to her at all.

One teacher was particularly egregious. She informed us, first day of 9th grade, that her Chumash class was the most important class we would ever take, except her Tefilla class in 12th grade. (She may have made a small exception for Halacha as well.) She then proceeded to spend the entire first day on the first Rashi in Shemos. By the time 20 minutes had gone past, she’d repeated that Rashi about 10 times.

I wanted to be on my best behavior because it was the first day of school. But I was dying. So, as deviously as I could, I slid a blank sheet of paper under my chumash and started drawing.

At the end of 8th grade, my friends and I were drawing a comic strip starring ourselves as school-age superheroes fighting for justice for students in the educational system. We used our superpowers and awesome technology to take on monsters like the Evil Ed, who wielded a mighty Board. (Yes, I kid you not. It was pretty bad.) So I drew a few frames and picked up where we’d left off.

You can imagine my dismay, then, when my sheet of paper was ripped out from under my pencil and whisked into the air, where it was waved above a (rightfully) enraged teacher’s head. It was the first day of school, and already I had the chutzpah to be doodling during class.

She threw open the classroom doors and marched across the hall to the Rebbetzin’s office to show her what I’d been up to during the most important class of high school (except halacha and tefilla). Luckily, the Rebbetzin wasn’t in. Unwilling to delay her teaching further, the teacher ripped up the cartoon and dumped it in the Rebbetzin’s trash can.

And that’s how I wound up dumpster diving in the principal’s garbage can on the first day of school.

This was all lead up to a story that actually takes place in Tefilla class. That’s next post.

How I Wound Up Rifling Through the Principal’s Trash Can on the First Day of 9th Grade