I Escaped, But Only Just - Part 4: Bad Behaviour

‘Four years to your Barmitzvah,’ people would say upon asking my age. I’d turned nine - meaning I had four years to get ready. A Barmitzvah takes place when a Jewish boy reaches thirteen. It’s a sort of coming of age, a reading of the Torah in front of the community – a debut, for want of a better word. Some boys fear messing up, but that hardly ever happens.  

Twice a week after school, and on Sundays mornings, my parents took Robin and I to Cheder classes. At Cheder, I learnt the Hebrew alphabet. I learnt that the word sefer meant book and that the word kelev meant dog. That a talmud tov was a good pupil and a talmud lo’tov wasn’t. That Pharaoh’s daughter hid Moses in a basket when he was a baby because Pharaoh had ordered the destruction of all Jewish baby boys.  

On Thursday afternoons, the class held a Shabbat party where we drank lemonade and ate cakes while the two braided loaves of bread, the chollas, lay on the table at the front of the room. When I disrupted a lesson yet again one Thursday, the teacher, a terrifying dark haired woman named Mrs Rosenberg, who used to shout a lot and include the word immediately in many of her sentences, stopped talking and glared at me. ‘You are not invited to this week’s Shabbat party,’ she snapped. And even then, the impact of her words stunned me. I would have to sit alone and watch the party. She was shutting me out from the others, slamming a door in my face - preparing a path that would see me walk away from the Jewish community forever.  

Even though it may not seem like, I took the Jewish religion seriously most of the time. I believed in God and prayed alone. I loved the stories in the Bible and Jewish music, the joy set paradoxically in the minor key, often associated with sadness. But something occurred at Cheder that causes me to feel some shame, even now. Over time, Robin and I began to steal from the teachers there.  We’d go through coats and bags and take money. I don’t know how long we got away with it for, but eventually one of the other teachers brought it to our parents’ attention when they arrived to collect us,

‘Is this true?’

‘I didn’t do it,’ I protested.

‘It wasn’t us,’ Robin said.  

‘You were seen taking money from Mrs Rosenberg’s handbag,’ the teacher said, firmly.

My father turned to us. ‘Empty your pockets.’
We did, and out came the coins.  

A few weeks later, we started another cheder, and then another. Over the next four years, we went from one cheder to the next, never remaining at any for long, our disruptive behaviour always getting us booted out and earning us a reputation for being trouble.  
Written by Lozzamus
Author's Note
This is a true story covering a number of harrowing experiences from my teens and the effects of those experiences. I will post several times a week and bring the story to a conclusion. Where...
This is a true story covering a number of harrowing experiences from my teens and the effects of those experiences. I will post several times a week and bring the story to a conclusion. Where necessary, I will warn readers of potential Triggers by selecting contains Adult Content.

In this post, I introduce undercurrents of family and Community tensions that took hold during childhood, eventually leading to alienation and trouble.
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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