Friday, November 11, 2005

Regaining My Faith

Right before Yom Kippur, the principal of my daughter's Bais Yaakov sent home a letter to parents about the slipping standards of women's modest dress that he has noticed. The letter was very carefully and properly worded. He referred to other customs, rather than to forbidden practices. He talked about following the school's rules while on premises and how contradicting the teacher's instructions sends a bad message to one's daughters. He also emphasized his disappointment in his school's alumni who are cheating a little on the standards he and the school taught them. All in all, I found the letter to be very well done and, as someone who on occasion goes to the bus stop or to the school to drop off or pick up my daughter, not out of place.

It just bothered me that I never got a letter about derekh eretz (manners). Should tzeni'us be the number one priority? Granted, it is the most obvious. The principal sees mothers who visit the school and he sees his students on the street outside of school hours. So he knows how they dress. Other things that need improvement aren't necessarily as obvious. But, on the other hand, come on. We all know of certain things that even go on in school and synagogue that should be changed. So why no letter about pushiness, unpleasantness, selfishness, etc.?

Within a few weeks, and evidently planned well in advance so it was not due to parental complaints, the school was addressing this as well. One night this week, I attended a presentation in the school for parents (fairly well attended) about Project DERECH. This organization, which it seems has been around for a few years, has prepared a curriculum for different grades about improving manners and showing respect. The school asked parents to come for a presentation to encourage them to engage their daughters in the curriculum and reinforce the school's message. The presentation was nothing short of fabulous and, while I'll reserve judgment on the curriculum until I know more about it, I have high hopes for it. But setting that aside, the simple fact that there is such a curriculum and the school is trying to implement it will make an impact on the students and the parents (make no mistake about it, many parents need such a curriculum as well).

Here are some links for Project DERECH: I, II, III

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