May 11, 2015

A Thought-Provoking Letter

The following letter was printed in Binah magazine in March 2015:

"I live in a community where boxes are getting smaller and smaller, and the only way to get the contents to stay in the box is to sit on the cover and squash it so it fits.

I have been forced to send my daughter to an out-of-town high school because no school in town could accommodate her. She is a girl who is tzniusdik, respectful, and bright.  She is also very talented and creative, and would love to have a career as an artist or fashion designer.  She voiced that once in a personal essay at school and it set off a flurry of conferences as to where this heimishe girl was getting such aspirations from.

Once that red flag was raised, it all went downhill.  She was called in and asked pointed questions such as, "Do you read fashion magazines?" When she answered in the negative, they asked her, "So how will you be a fashion designer? Do you understand why it's the wrong career choice?" And then, I kid you not, she was asked to re-write the essay with a more preferable career choice for a frum girl.

She came home broken and confused.  "Why is it okay for Mrs. X (a parent on the PTA committee) and Rebbetzin L to design tzniusdik fashionable robes and children's clothes, but I can't? Why do I need to write an essay that is a lie?"

She is respectful, my daughter, so she wrote a beautiful essay on why she would shift careers and become an accountant instead.  She called my neighbor, a mechaneches, and told her the story and asked her to read it to ensure that not a hint of cynicism was in there.  My neighbor read it, praised her, and then called me, insisting, "You must talk to your rav.  This girl is going to learn a new habit: lie about who she is and say everything right to satisfy those around her.  She must get out of the school and learn that it's not a way of life."

She scared me (this is my oldest child and I would not have stepped out of the box and made a fuss had she not pushed me) and I did call our rav, who advised us.  He explained it all, in person, to our daughter, and encouraged her to become the best frum fashion designer there is and raise the kedusha level of Klal Yisrael with her creations. He encouraged us to find a high school that would nurture her passion for art and allow more self-expression.

Prior to this, I too was a very "in the box" type.  Now, I worry about its far-reaching effects."

1 comment:

  1. The sad thing is that Torah does not require people to all conform or be in the box. That rav saw that this girl had a special talent that could be used for kedusha and luckily this is the rav that they went to.