Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The most demeaning Yeshiva Punishment?

As one would imagine, there has been a lot of buzz lately discussing the spate of abuse scandals within the Brooklyn Orthodox community. First, there were the very serious allegations of sexual abuse in a Brooklyn Yeshiva - strong enough that they are battling it out in court. Now, a friend of mine pointed out posts on the 'Chaptzem Blog' and a new blog entitled Rebbes and "Mechanchim" who will live in infamy
that harp on the notion of 'Abusive' Rebbeim.

As a child in a Brooklyn Yeshiva in the 80's, I got my fair share of corporal punishment. I also received punishments that were both mentally abusive and demeaning. But, thankfully, I can look back at those years and laugh. Our Rebbeim were tough on us. Some of them were off the deep end and definitely crossed the line into abuse. Others were more stable, but ocassionally had to use a 'frask' as a reminder to a student (and to the rest of the class) as to who exactly was the 'Rebbe' in the room.

However, there is a big difference between punishing a student and abusing them mentally or physically. For example, my Grade School Principal, who was unequivocally unqualified for his job or a teaching job (and I'm being nice), once suspended me for getting a 73 on a Gemara (Talmud) exam, because he felt that I could do better (I am not making this one up, I hope my grade school buds will comment and vouch). Or the Rebbe in Junior High that made me right 1000 lines of 'I will not hang out the window like an illiterate on welfare'. Or the third grade Rebbe whose favorite punishment was to put kids in his 'Doghouse' - as he like to refer to the footwell of his desk.

Those individuals were abusive, and in retrospect had abusive personalities. Personally, the Rabbis who doled out the punishments above shouldn't have been teaching anyone's kids.

So I'll ask you this - what was your most demeaning Yeshiva punishment? Didn't go to yeshiva - that's okay, feel free to post!


Anonymous said...

A grade school buddy here,

I vouch that particularly in 7th grade, yonah got the brunt of the abuse. He got it because he was an easy target or because he was honest (he watched tv- while the rest of the class wouldn't admit to it). So now the rabbi tought the rest of the class that honest isn't always the best policy...

But Yonah was always a decent kid- not a trouble make.

NerdMom said...

I do have to say on that was crazy. My mom once grounded me for getting honors instead of high honors. Now I am not saying for a weekend but for a whole quarter. Now I had never gotten straight A's or anything. My mom said that I had proved I could get high honors and I got grounded because the grades had slipped. I went to public school. They didn't really do anything to anyone (punishment or teaching;).