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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: On the Mechanics of Cool

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Monday, October 26, 2009

On the Mechanics of Cool

To be cool.

Oh, how we strived for it. The very pinnacle of an elementary kid’s school dreams, being cool was the ultimate goal of most any one of us, back in those days. Of course, there were those diligent worthies, swaying back and forth over their chumashim or  mishnayos even then, but they were few and far in between. Did they even have such lowly desires? Did they recognize what being cool meant?

They say that crime bosses “own” a town or neighborhood or what-have-you. But they don’t own schools. No, only two kinds of people own schools. The bullies, whom everyone hates, and the cool kids. And I think that in modern day yeshivos, bullies don’t exist. Or at least not in the classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” sort of way. But cool kids- cool kids exist everywhere, in every social setting there is.

Ah…to be cool, and own a school.
To walk down a hallway and have everyone stare at the latest Nikes, with a red icon of Jordan affixed to the back, as you casually continue strolling, seemingly indifferent to the stares. To have kids from older! grades flatter you just to be on your good list. To always know the right thing to say, the right places to be. To have a cellphone or iPod in fifth grade, 'cause your mother just didn't mind. What a life!

They were at the very highest rung of the yeshiva elementary food chain. And they knew it. And woe to you if you didn't acknowledge the fact.

Once, back in the fourth grade days, I knew a cool kid. Well, not really knew…it happened like this.

Camp MATZAV was a small day camp, located only a hot, smelly, and rowdy 10-minute bus drive away from home. Every morning, we’d board that bus, I and the other fifty kids- total strangers all- and head towards another day of boisterous fun. Supposedly. I never liked camps. Couldn’t handle all the authority going on there. Teenaged kids who could be read like a book on power trips over eight year olds. Please. But sixteen year old control freaks aside, we’d get to camp, and begin our day. The good news in Camp MATZAV was that instead of the usual subtle competition for coolest kid in camp, there wasn’t any. Mordy Gold was the coolest kid in camp- no question. In fact, when the guys put together a grammen at camps end, there was a particular line that stays stuck in my head- probably since this type of thing isn’t usually acknowledged, especially in so public a setting. “Mordy Gold is so cool, na na na na na”, sang his bunk. Dangling arms and a seriously chilled attitude, in addition to a rust colored “chup”, had made it for him. He never had to lift a finger. Mordy was a JC, I think, but didn’t have to do a blessed thing, unlike a regular JC who has to do most of the grunt work around camp. One more point; Mordy Gold was an artist par excellence. He was so good, that he actually designed the camps logo/T-shirt design- at fifteen.

How I wished I could be Mordy. To be able to go out into the field, or whatever they called the brown, weed filled yard, with only a pencil and sketchbook, away from the annoying counselors, and lay down and draw. To exercise such freedom- and to have everyone love me for it. The amazing thing, to me, was that Mordy actually liked me. We schmoozed here and there (although he wasn’t my JC), and had somewhat of a relationship. And then one muggy July night, I had the ultimate thrill.

Mordy’s younger brother (I forget his name), was in my bunk, and I did have a little to do with him, probably only to be closer to his older brother- you know how that works. One day, he came to camp with invitations. He was one of the lucky kids who managed to finagle a birthday in the summer. So the whole bunk was invited, myself included. Early that evening, my mother brought me over to the Gold’s house, where the party was just getting underway. Two hours of birthday cake, birthday songs, and ridiculous birthday games later, the chevra started packing out. Soon, only a few kids were left, plus the birthday boy, his family, and me- and Mordy. I was waiting glumly outside on the stoop for my mother to pick me up, sort of envious of that kid inside with all the presents, when Mrs. Gold passed along a phone message. My mother got delayed, and wouldn’t be able to make it for at least another hour. She kindly invited me back into the house, where I started bouncing a blue silicone ball (the type with the marble design) up and down in the basement, alone. 

At that point, I don’t recall what happened to the birthday boy, my bunkmate, only what happened to me. Mordy came down the stairs, and we started schmoozing- about something. Don’t remember what, so don’t ask. And then he casually offered- “Wanna play Taps”? My heart jumped. Joy! To play Taps with Mordy Gold, in his house! Away from a camp setting, where he was paid to talk/play with us. And play we did. And schmooze all the while.

I’ve never seen Mordy since then, nor heard or spoken his name. He’s likely married now, probably living out of town working an $80,000 dead end job in finance or something, or perhaps is well along in some medical school. I don’t think I’ll ever know.

But I’ll never forget the day I played Taps with Mordy Gold.

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Blogger Chana said...

Ah, you captured how important childhood joys are so beautifully! I can relate to this feeling. ;)

October 26, 2009 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...

Why thank you! No doubt your feelings are more of empathy than of sympathy.

October 27, 2009 at 8:01 PM  

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