Yeshiva Memories: The Modern Orthodox In-Towners

The in towner kids were of a special variety in my yeshiva, many of them came from modern orthodox families that would have never even looked twice at a black hat reject yeshiva if it weren?t for the fact that the closest modern orthodox high school was 175 miles away in Toronto, so instead of shipping their Josh?s and Avi?s away these kipah srugah-NCSY attending ? coed camp going ? kids wound up in my yeshiva and like I said above they were special cases.

Anyone that attended yeshiva can tell you that merely being called ?modern? has a negative connotations. It means you are a lesser being, that you are inherently flawed and practice a different kind of Judaism than the people running the yeshiva do and that is bad. So bad that certain rules and regulations were made in order to keep us away from those modern orthodox kids that had somehow wound up in our perfect yeshiva ? because if you discount the porn rings, cocaine overdoses and kids that showed up after pesach to finish up their senior year, we were the perfect yeshiva.

Most of these rules were really rolled into one rule ? that not only kept us away from our classmates, but also kept us away from girls, because in the end my entire yeshiva education was devoted to keeping me and my classmates away from girls ? which they failed to do. We couldn?t attend Beth Shalom, the modern orthodox shul which was run by evil yeshiva haters according to our rebbeim and they were actually right on that one. It didn?t help that the rabbi had decided to send all of his kids to the yeshiva, the same yeshiva that forbade us to daven at his shul.

Even showing up at the end of shul was questionable, there would be girls, and there would be treife food. That?s right folks, our yeshiva didn?t hold of the rabbis hechsher, so all of the products including the entamins raspberry twist cake were forbidden to us ? which was all the more reason to eat it, because it felt really cool to be going against our rabbis wishes, it almost made the food taste better.

Beth Shalom is one of those classic modern orthodox shuls, with a very classic rabbi, Rabbi Kilimnick (by the way his wife is still on my top five best cooks list) is one of those guys that gets stopped around Christmas time by kids thinking he is Santa clause. It was a shame that his son had to deal with kids saying things like ?I heard your dad drives to shul on shabbos? and ?I hear you guys don?t keep kosher? which is really appalling when you think about it and totally uncalled for ? of course these were frum kids that had been kicked out of a bunch of schools before winding up at the last stop and who could blame them for being so dumb and ignorant.

The N word was thrown around a lot in yeshiva, racism pervades the yeshiva setting and that?s just how it is. Either way, it was always the modern intowners that would say something when someone flung out the N word, and like clockwork, the people throwing it around would say you ?N-lover? or ?why do you have to be so liberal?? as if the N-word wasn?t used by liberals but everyone else could use it freely.

Either way, life wasn?t easy if you were modern orthodox and wound up in our yeshiva. You may be thinking about myself, I was from a modern orthodox family, I went to coed day school, coed camps and was allowed to bring girls home and lock them in my bedroom with me for an all out yichud session ? but my father didn?t have the modern orthodox philosophy, is his words ? we should all go back to the yeshivishe velt of the 40?s, so while I could hook up with girls he wanted me to learn gemara with those ?zuchta rashi thumb dip thingies.? So I didn?t have any interest in yom haatzmaut or the Rav, I knew nothing about real modern orthodoxy until I started writing and am still a bit behind on my MO philosophy.

The yeshivas anti- Beth Shalom mentality was well known and when we yeshiva guys did show up there it was slightly awkward. We had to contend with people trying to slap labels on us by saying ?so you go to the yeshiva right?? which was always followed up by ?why would you go away from school when there are so many schools to choose from?? Which was trying to place us into troubled kid category ? which may even be followed up by some tell Rabbi? so and so we say hi and want to see them here sometime.

It was like the ultimate jackpot to score a meal at one of the intowners houses, going to rabbi or kollel guy was good and all, but a meal at a intowners house usually meant letting your guard down and actually acting like regular teenagers, rather than upstanding members of the yeshiva. I remember the rabbis telling us to act good in public so that people would think highly of the yeshiva ? I remember wondering if anyone ? including the rabbis, thought highly of the yeshiva.

One time my roommate and I were caught coming back from an NCSY convention that we had crashed to talk to our friends and meet girls of course. The guy who caught us was one of those kids that gradually frummed out through the years and he gave us this whole shpeil about how talking to girls led to masturbation, he really gave it his all and how it would bring us down and it wasn?t worth it. I wondered what he was talking about because I loved girls and I loved masturbating ? so he wasn?t really making any sense. Either way, he kept going on and on about how before he was frum girls caused him so much pain (let us keep in mind that we hadn?t actually gotten any) and he started quoting mesilas yeshurim, he kept us up for hours regaling his tales of broken hearts and wasted seed, but I was kind of impressed that he didn?t go into the evils of modern orthodoxy.

I always wondered how the Rabbis felt about the fact that the modern orthodox girl getting intowners never really rebelled or went off the derech, it seemed like they were the best kids ? while there was a yeshiva full of ?frum? kids that weren?t very good at all, but I guess as long as we didn?t talk to girls we were really more frum than the kids that were allowed to.