Friday, December 28, 2007

Who Am I, Anyway?

I got a response to my last post that made me think I should clear some stuff up:

Tamara Eden wrote:

Hi there,

I'm updating my blogroll and can't figure out if you should go in my Teacher list or my Jewish list.

Which do you think your blog best fits?

Also, I'm so confused on your blog. Are you a public or a Jewish school teacher? Are you frum? Just curious. I'm sort of one of those lurkers who doesn't comment enough (blushing).


Hi Tamara!

As far as where my blog best fits, I think "Jewish" is probably better than "Teacher", although I do blog about both. Maybe there could be a Jewish Teacher category? Dunno. Do as you see fit.

Now, as for where the heck I teach: I teach at a public charter high school in Richmond, California. Last year I taught at a Catholic school in Oakland. The reason you're confused, I think, is because I assign all the students and staff I write about pseudonyms that are almost always Hebrew names. My students are primarily African American and/or Latino, and nearly all Christian or culturally Christian. (They would point out here that many of them are CATHOLIC, which they do not see as a Christian faith. Sigh.) In real life they have names that reflect their ethnicity and faith, and the names that were popular fifteen years ago.

I just refer to them as Yochanan, Merav, Chaim, Mushkie, Imma Shalom, Meir, etc., because I want to protect their identities, and I'm having fun. I used to call my students things like Kid X, and Nice Korean Kid #2, but last year I referred to a boy as Dovidl (an indirect play on the nice Arabic name his mother gave him), and then it seemed natural to call the girl he blamed for getting him in trouble Brachi, and the next thing I knew, they all had Hebrew names. I admit that this is more complicated than the RenReb's policy of simply calling everyone Phil, but it is sort of fun. The names are assigned haphazardly, on an as-needed basis, and sometimes change if I think of a better one. Mostly they allude to the sound or meaning of the original name.

Am I frum? No, or at least, adayin lo. My gentile husband thinks I'm a religious extremist. My Jewish friends know better. I buy kosher meat, eat veggie out, light for the holidays, daven once in a while, and dream of doing better. I was raised Reform, and am tending to drift back that way, after a time in the Conservative movement, simply because Reform is coming right-ward to meet me. I'm just serious about being Jewish, in my own eclectic way.

My father is Irish Catholic, and my husband is a non-practicing cultural Protestant, so my Yiddishkeit is, let's say, culturally complicated. And I'm from San Francisco, so everything about me, actually, is culturally complicated.

Hope this is helpful, although I can actually see how it might be even more confusing. Are you on winter break as well?

1 comment:

tamaraeden said...

Hi there,

I laughed when I saw this post as a result of my question to you.

I did create a new category "Jewish Blogging Teachers" :).

I did one semester of student teaching and one semester of real teaching at a charter high school in San Diego. The school was phenomenal though a bit hard to break into the tight bond those teachers had with one another.

And you were right, I was confused because of your Chabad style names :) I was quite perplexed actually. LOL I think respecting anonymity of your kids is quite important. I do my best to never say the name of where I teach and I never use real names. Then again, I also don't seem to do enough education posts lately. It's something I should do more of really.

My students are also mostly Latino. Oddly, we have more Armenians than we do African Americans. We have a solid group of Asian as well but very few "white".

And thank you for your clarification. And for the record, my family (though they don't say it) and people I know think I'm quite religious when in actuality I'm just a practicing conservative Jew. I'm quite liberal in my social values and beliefs. I keep kosher in and out of the house. My husband and I do eat when we are the homes of our family though we do ask them to get kosher meat or we make vegetarian. We also will eat out at vegetarian restaurants and vegan. Oh, and my husband is a Jew By Choice, raised French Canadian Catholic actually.

Well, that's enough for now and I'll for sure be back.

Oh, I am on winter break but I work at a year round school which means my winter break is just one week and my summer is longer but not during the summer :) We have 4400 kids at our school so we have to be on a 3 track system. My school day is an hour longer but I have 4 full months off a year. My track gets all of March, April, September, October off. :)