I could have been the coolest kid in my yeshiva. Instead, I was not the coolest kid at Laguna Hills High School. Not that I was a social pariah either. I was very middle of the road cool. The kind of cool that gets you a couple candid shots in the yearbook with friends, but not nearly enough to ensure you a full two page spread of just your face at a dance. To illustrate, I have created the following scale of coolness:
tube socks—————me—————————————————space travel
As you can see by my brilliant illustration, I was a little cooler than the dependability and comfort of tube socks, but a far cry from the awesomeness and wonder of space travel. But, if I had gone to a yeshiva it would have been a different story. As I see it, the following were the limiting factors that contributed to my popularity level and why attending a religious school would have changed it all: 1) Sports— never have I ever heard of anyone getting a scholarship to play for a yeshiva basketball team, nor have I heard of a NBA player that came out of a yeshiva, for that matter. I can’t imagine that yeshiva students spend their Saturdays covering themselves in body paint to cheer against their rivals. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, it might. In fact, I’m sure that people play sports and are sports fans at yeshiva, but the primary function of a yeshiva is to learn Judaic texts. I’m sure I would have had a far easier time doing that than attempting to ride the bench all season. 2 ) Money— the students who went to my high school were faced with two hard decisions growing up: Mercedes or BMW. I drove a ’92 Buick Skylark I called ‘white lightening’ because it had a giant scrape in the hood that looked like a thunderbolt. At a yeshiva, the only accessories I would have needed to worry about would’ve been my tzit tzit and my yarmulke. 3)Girls— perhaps, owing to what I lack in the two aforementioned categories; I did not have my pick of the litter, so to speak. And women, or at least one’s ability to court them, are a social currency in high school. Many yeshivas are not co-ed, and even in cases in which they are, the focus is on study, not socializing. Problem solved. Granted, a lot of my conclusions are based on the bold generalization that a yeshiva is an orthodox Jewish institution of learning. In truth, there are many different types of yeshivas, in all denominations, that cater to all types of Jews. And of course, no matter what social group one joins, there will always be superficial criterion with which to judge people. In an overarching sense, however, they are places of rigorous religious academics that value debate and intellect over material goods and outward appearances. In this element (with a little Torah and the Talmud) I would have flourished. I don’t mean to toot my own horn…but, beep beep.