Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Grandfather Spins In His Grave

(I wrote this post about my grandfather a while ago and wasn't planning to post it. But I was thinking about him again after having seen a recent sefer that included a tribute to his influence on the author. I thought it was pretty nice and considered decloaking to post it, but I'll pass.)

Various considerations arose as we debated whether or not to take David out of day school. Mostly the considerations were practical, but there was also an emotional dimension. Both of our families had struggled to send us to day school and were we now returning the favor by stabbing them in the back? Or worse yet, the heart?

From my side there was an additional element. My grandfather was a big advocate of a day school education even in the interwar period, when the concept of day school was as foreign to the vast majority of American Jews as Mars. He actively volunteered in a local day school (until he had a falling out with the principal?) and he later combined his dedication to day school with his passion for athletics by helping to found the yeshivah basketball league. (He raised money for YU as well.)

He also put his money where his mouth was. His oldest daughter graduated from an elementary day school and his next daughter and my father continued through yeshivah high schools as well. (The idea of sending girls to day school was particularly unusual then.)

So as we considered changing educational paths, I thought of my grandfather, whose yahrzeit had just been observed a few days earlier. I imagined him turning over in his grave at the prospect of a grandson--and one named for him, no less--attending public school.

The truth is my grandfather was an extremely practical person. He was very tachlis oriented. I'm sure that if I enumerated to him our grievances he would sigh and nod his head in agreement. I could even imagine that after we'd part he'd pick up the phone and give the principal a piece of his mind. (I actually remember him once calling up the director of a day camp I attended and telling him he didn't know the first thing about how to run a camp.)

But public school? He definitely wouldn't be happy, to say the least.


Orthonomics said...

I think a lot of people will be facing the emotional dimension as the practical rears its head.

MDJ said...

It seems our grandfathers had much in common. My paternal grandfather also devoted his life to day school education, and fi there's one single reason I won't even talk about public school with my wife it is the thought of him. And, he taught me to lein. Can you e-mail me more about the sefer and the note about him?