In twelfth grade, we had a once-a-week class on Yechezkel. The teacher was a respected woman in the community, but her teaching was… kinda boring.
Now, I’ve had teachers with boring teaching styles before. But this one, Rebetzin Wasserman let’s call her, combined a droning voice with repetitions of tired old adages we’d all heard since fifth grade. Plus she taught only in Hebrew, and her Hebrew wasn’t very good.
So basically, for all my goody-goody-ness most of the time, I couldn’t be bothered. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I chatted my way through her class. Which normally would be fine, and in fact some of my conversation mates got away with it. But that was because they at least pretended to take notes. I didn’t. And I sat in the front row.
Which all led to my being kicked out of class one day.
I wandered out, dazed and confused (not really) but mostly relieved to be out of that classroom. I spent the period with the girls who always hung out in the stairwell, and was fascinated by this life I’d never known existed behind the walls.
At the end of the period, I said goodbye to my friends-for-an-hour and went back to class. Rebetzin Wasserman didn’t give me detention for cutting class or report me to the principal because she didn’t know my name. She didn’t know anyone’s names.
A few weeks later, the year was over and we had two weeks of finals. When the Yechezkel final came around, I briefly thought about getting someone’s notes so I could “study.” But I had better ways to spend the evening, and another final (plus regents!) to study for. So I didn’t prepare at all.
On the day of the test my friends knew I hadn’t paid attention all year and hadn’t asked them for notes, so they knew I wasn’t at all prepared. We knew the test was going to be a format of fill in the blanks and short answers, so they came up with an idea: a suggestion that would help me score something correctly on the test. They advised me to write “teshuva” for every answer on the test.
I got an 85%.