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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ignored in High School

I went to an Orthodox all boys school (obviously). I got my high school diploma from there. Despite how much I have changed over a short period of time since graduation I still am very happy to have went there. The people were nice and there are Rabbis that I like. Of course, my respect for all these Rabbis have diminished as I now realize they live in a lie that they indoctrinate to children and who they themselves were victims of indoctrination. But they can be respected in other aspects. I also love my class. Most of them are nice people.

But what I always hated was that the main principal Rabbi of the whole school always ignored me. From day one till I graduated. I have been in high school from 13 to 18, and all those years he kept on ignoring me.

And I know that he ignored me because the way he treated other people was very different from how he treated me. Other students he was very strict with. He told them what they needed to do. But never, not even one time, did he ever dictate to me what I had to do. I never got in trouble by him all my years being in high school. If I did not come and daven he did not say anything. If I did not study for his Chumash test he did not say anything. If I entirely ignored all my Jewish work in high school he did not say anything.

You might imagine that my situation was a student's dream - to never be bothered about what they do. Students wish for this gift. But it is was really a curse. Because even though he never did anything to do, or got me into trouble, or tried to control me, he at the same time avoided me. If I had a question to ask him he did not want to respond to it. He would tell me "no time for questions" and move on to what he was doing, or something like that. He would speak with other people in high school.

He was (is) a very nice person, just very strict at the same time. A very funny guy and smart too. Makes good jokes and puns. He has a very likable personality. He would joke and talk with my fellow classmates but never talk in such a manner to me. But at the same time he would discipline them and be strict with them.

But I never got that kind of attention. He did invite me for Shabbos and for Yom Tovim. Quite often. And I would happily come because I get to see his likable personality. But it was never really about me. He just invited me because I would need a place to eat for Shabbos. He did not converse with me much at Shabbos. I really spoke with his sons at the Shabbos table, not him.

I should say that he was very nice to me all the years I have known him. But he just avoided me. Near the end of high school he got on everyone's case about what they are planning to do after yeshiva. He repeatedly had talks with all my classmates in high school to figure out what they are doing. If they were not sure he would pressure them to find out. If they still did not find out he would recommend for them a yeshiva to go to after high-school.

Here is the really strange part. For that entire senior year of high school he never asked me once what I am planning to do. Not once. Not even a suggestion. Not even a yes or no answer. All my classmates had this talk with him plentiful of time but not me. I even remember that I decided to walk over to him and tell him myself what I plan to do after high school.

I was different though. All my classmates went to a yeshiva upon finishing high school but not me. I was the only one in my whole class who went to college immediately. Looking back I am happy that I never went to yeshiva, happy to know I did not have to go through another year or two of indoctrination. In fact, it is possible that if I went to yeshiva I would have never broke free from this indoctrination. So looking back I am definitely happy to not have went to yeshiva.

He probably knew I was different. He probably knew that I am not planning to go to yeshiva. But he never made a word about it. That day I walk over to him and tell him that I plan to immediately go to college upon graduation. He responded to me by basically saying "okay". That was it. He had nothing to say, he had no question to ask. I just told him a piece of information and he accepted.

I always wondered, and still wonder, why he ignored me. I cannot figure it out. When I told my classmates my situation in high school they joke and tell me that "he was afraid of you". Some are more serious and just tell me "he knew you would not listen anyway to what he would say, you will just do your own way". But none of those answers make any sense. Is it not the role of a principal to suggest to students ideas, not necessarily to push them to do them?

He never gave me any suggestions. And so I felt ignored by him. I guess I should ask him one day. Maybe with these years that passed he would not ignore me. If I ask him why he ignored me perhaps he will tell me. This riddle does haunt me constantly. I need to know his reason. I must ask him one day before he dies, for lest I will never know.

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