jewin' the fat


Under-estimated and Under-age
April 8, 2010, 10:03 AM
Filed under: Comment, Jewish Community | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I remember sitting in early morning Prayers in high school, a quietly fuming 14 years old and one detention note closer to threatening to turn the whole institution on its head. No, I wasn’t the kid who called in bomb threats to get out of History exams, nor was I the student who lit the computer room on fire, or the idiot who stood on a chair to get the teacher’s frayed attention and stuck his hand in the fully operational ceiling fan. They were the best of times and the worst of  times …  

Nope. I was a rebel with a cause, and that cause was the hypocrisy I could smell on every teacher in every carpet in every classroom. My school reeked of it, and I recall this morning in morning prayers because that is when I came face-to-face with the woman whose hypocrisy went so deep, even Easy-Off BAM’s poor example of grammar couldn’t have scrubbed it out. Looking back it was a simple matter of insubordination – a refusal to a direct order to open a prayer-book. But I stuck it out, protesting the inadequacy of prayer recited without proper intention, and made an offer of silent meditation in its place. My peace-offering rebuffed, I went to that afternoon detention with a smile on my face, content in the knowledge that I had stood up for what was right, and not submitted to what was expected.Lo and behold, over a decade later, I am (sadly) shocked to happen upon the same stench, thick and repulsive, all these years later. It’s still just as offensive, and although I am an adult, with power, influence and killer letter-writing skills, I can still feel the rage of underage subjection and underestimation stinging my senses.  

Except that this time, it isn’t happening to me.  It’s happening to other vulnerable, underrepresented young JC. And that is something I cannot abide.

  

There is nothing more dividing, destructive or disillusioning to a young person in the JC than hypocrisy. Jewish culture actively encourages the curiosity of our young people, as evidenced by the recitation of the 4 Questions at the Passover Seder, and the focus on education and questioning in the Jewish tradition.  The disregard for consistency between practice and preacher is a sure-fire way to disenfranchise and distance our young people.

Somehow in the race to provide our children with a ‘Jewish’ education, the institutions which claim to place Jewish ethos and practice above all else (that is, except high University entrance scores), have neglected the one thing that Jews pride themselves on (that is, except high University  entrances scores ): Tikkun Olam.  

That’s right, besides starting all world wars, controlling media, banks, governments and most public institutions, it turns out we also have a lock on the concept of world harmony, as well as the tools to make it happen.  

So as part of our Jewish education, JC young uns are taught that voluntary contributions to charity and non-parole-related community service is a vital to the proper development of one’s humanity (and CV – I’m talking Legacy, Lions Club, Starlight Children’s Foundation, Canteen, Wires, RSPCA, The Salvation Army et al. padding out our employment applications).  

And for over a decade, one school has had a choke-hold on the brownie points in this regard. Until now. Turns out this school has taken it upon themselves to circumvent the long tradition of a respected annual student-initiated charity event, by claiming a rental charge for the on-campus premises (which have hosted the event free-of-charge for years).  

But wait folks, you get a large dose of insincerity with your steak knives!  

Imagine you are a parent, or community member, or local business owner, approached by 2 cherub-faced teenagers who present you with a professionally written proposal for a charitable, and full tax-deductible donation to an event which intends to raise funds for a well-known children’s charity. It’s a miracle! you think, Kids of  today should be involving themselves in the community, selflessly donating their time and resources for the good of those less fortunate. Good on that school for encouraging such well-intentioned behaviour. Tikkun Olam FTW! you exclaim inwardly.  

You donate generously, and so do hundreds of other expectant donors, excited to see their time/money/produce/goods and services raise much-needed monies for the charity so persistently and persuasively advertised by those good-for-something students.  

But those two cherubs are soon two good-for-nothing C-words, and the school is accused of rearing the spawn of Satan – your donation isn’t getting youth off the streets, or curing cancer – it’s buying the school new sound equipment instead.  

Imagine no longer! This ill-fated dream is an unfortunate, duplicitous reality, and that stench in your nostrils, is the smell of bullshit. No wonder our graduated students are gagging for fresh air outside of the community …  

... and you thought this was scandalous ...

 

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