I don’t carry many lifelong scars. But I’ve never been able to shake this one. My report cards from Yeshiva of Hudson County. Eight years of rigorous Judaic training. It was all I could do to take up the very space I occupied.
The Rabbis who stood at the front of every classroom were our nuns. Ruthless. Unable to feel. Each with a hair trigger. Quick to belittle and punish any small Jewish boy who didn’t abide. You know where I’m going with this.
I’m hardwired to not abide. But it took me an adolescence and then some to grow into it, and be comfortable. In the middle of it all, I took shit. From Rabbi Pikus. From Rabbi Fisher. From every bearded cat who tried to rear me.
I’m nobody’s. I never belonged to these men who didn’t try to know me. Who failed to open me up and find out who the boy was that they were ruling over. They were there to teach. And nurture. But rather, they controlled us.
The majority of letters in Hebrew on the first image are Dalets. In plain English these are D grades. And in red ink, no less. So too are the words, “No Effort At All” next to the “Shows Little Effort” option on the back. More red ink.
I live with these memories, with the opinions put forth about me, by them. Depending on the year, the moment, or the mood, I believe it. “Shows no effort at all.” And once in a while I toss out a Fuck You to all red ink.
All This By Hand