Thursday, December 2, 2010

Completely Kosher Chanukah Video and Some Other Thoughts...

I agree that there are problems with Matisyahu's very commercial Chanukah video.  Read the comments on my Shiloh Musings posting. For sure the female could have been dressed modestly, according to the norms of tzniyut.

I've been in Israel forty years, almost exactly if you count the months two-thirds of my life, but I haven't been able to totally delete my earliest years.  Because of this my perspective isn't what you'd generally expect from the way I dress.  We're judged by our "uniforms."  Yes, we're all in uniforms, because clothing is like publicizing a membership card.  Of course, we can change our clothes and change our image, impression on others.

Chazal, our Sages, say that in Biblical times, when the single girls danced in the Valley of Shiloh, they exchanged clothes, so that they didn't wear their own white dresses.  A rich girl could be in a simple, inexpensive dress while the poverty-stricken girl could be in the dress of a wealthy girl.  Our clothing is external, superficial.

Because of this, we all must be so careful how we speak to others, because we may accidently say something offensive.  One of my pet peeves is when someone giving a shiur Torah Class prefaces something by saying:
"כמו שכולנו למדנו בגן"
"Kimo shekulanu lamadnu b'gan..."
 "Just like we all learned in nursery school..."
Well, I didn't go to gan, nursery school, and if I had I wouldn't have learned any Torah stories there.  Though born Jewish and raised in Jewish neighborhoods, Torah wasn't on the menu, not in the curriculum.

The first time I heard that expression, it was from a distinguished guest rabbi.  I sat fuming, because I felt totally left-out, rejected.  By his saying those words he excluded me from the group.  I was dressed like the other women and understand enough Hebrew to attend Hebrew-language shiurim, so he simplistically took for granted that we in the audience were "all the same."

I didn't feel right getting up and walking out, nor did I think it good form to interrupt him and tell him how he had insulted me.  About a year or so after that experience, one of my neighbors gave a class to us and used the expression.  Knowing that he would never intentionally or unintentionally hurt me, I politely interrupted him and told him how I felt.  I also mentioned that I wasn't the only one in the group who hadn't gone to gan.  Some of the women were from even less Jewish backgrounds and even converted to Judaism.  You can't tell by looking at us.  Since then, he is much more sensitive to the issue.

Should I have spoken to that guest-rabbi?  I'll always wonder. 

Chag Urim Sameach!
Have an Enlightened Holiday!


Hadassa said...

I've "been there" too. IMHO you should have privately spoken to the guest rabbi. All a speaker has to do is change the wording to "as children are taught in a religious pre-school (gan)".
At just about the time that my children started gan I bought (and read to MYSELF) the popular children's series "Koh Asu Hahameinu" (roughly translated as "The Deeds of Our Sages") so that when they came home with stories of what their teacher had told them, I'd understand the half-bits of plot relayed to me.
Every time I get that "left out" feeling, I think to myself that while I didn't have the education that most of the room did, I've worked myself up to be able to understand what they can, sometimes even more ;).

Mrs. S. said...

I think that all olim - whether or not they were raised in Orthodox Jewish homes and DID learn those things in gan - experience a variation of that feeling at one point or another.

For instance, about a year or two after our aliyah, our son had to do a project for school about an army unit of his choice. And the teacher suggested that each boy pick "his father's" unit.

But since by the time we made aliyah, the IDF was no longer interested in my husband, our son felt very left out. (Fortunately, one of his uncles had served, and so our son was able to do the project on his uncle's unit.)

Happy Chanukah!
(P.S. I posted that same video last night!)

Batya said...

Hadassa, my daughters read that series. My sons didn't being too dyslexic.
As an adult I make more of an effort to make up for my lack of Jewish education than most. I've even given some shiurim to my group here.
Mrs. S, when my eldest was in the 2nd grade, the teacher told them to aske their parents what they remembered from the War of Independence. My daughter was pretty sure that my husband and I were too young even if we had grown up here. I sent her to a neighbor and spoke to the teacher about it. We were the youngest parents in the class, and she wasn't used to it.