This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for June 17th, 2011

High School Graduation

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 17, 2011


My son (and only child) graduated last week from Netiv Meir Yeshiva High School in Jerusalem. There were 40 boys in his year. I was struck by how different his graduation was from my own, from the University of Toronto (BA and MA; by the time I finished my PhD at Harvard, I had already moved to Israel). I hadn’t expected to enjoy the evening much, especially because I don’t understand Hebrew very well, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

The speeches were brief, they thanked people (I was impressed that they called in one of the cafeteria workers to thank her), showed the obligatory slideshow of all the creative ways teenage boys can find to break the rules, including flooding a section of the roof with a hose to make a swimming pool. Wait a minute — a swimming pool on the roof??!! He told us he got thrown out for participating in a water fight!

This photo below is NOT my son, although he was one of the spectators. I saw the video on Facebook. Two boys stripped down to their boxer shorts and swam around a large aquarium that hadn’t been cleaned since it was donated to the school. The fish died. The boys bought new fish.


Interestingly enough, there were no awards at this ceremony. (“The winner of the junior math contest, followed by the senior math contest, followed by the English award, the physics award, the basket-weaving award….”) No presentation of teams or sports awards. No clubs. No valedictorian. Just a couple hours of speeches and songs in a cafeteria decorated with balloons and blue cloth. The young man who spoke as a representative for the class had a noticeable stammer. I thought it was nervousness but my son said he always stammers. How brave of him to speak in front of 40 boys and their parents!

My son’s band played for the last time. Next year they’ll be all over the country — army, yeshiva, and mechinot (pre-army program). I haven’t heard them play much because they’re usually performing at bar mitzvahs or school functions to which parents aren’t invited. Believe me, you don’t want to see what your son gets up to at a Purim party. (Here’s this year’s Purim school performance. I didn’t shoot that video. My son’s band is playing but he isn’t on the stage because he’s one of the dancers in black and white, wearing masks.)

I have seen some videos where they were surprisingly good. This wasn’t one of their best performances because they were told at the last minute and had only two days to rehearse, while studying for exams (matriculation exams continue for another few weeks). The singer is standing at a 90 degree angle in the video below because he’s reading the lyrics from the screen.

This one’s cute (and very short, only 2 minutes long). The boys got up and started singing along with their arms on each others shoulders. Of course, a swarm of camera-wielding parents followed. And of course I was one of them, recording the video with a point-and-shoot while walking around the table.

So we’ve passed another milestone. I can’t say I was totally thrilled with the school but my son made good friends and turned into a mature (even if he refuses to cut his hair at the moment) and kind young man.

I made two other videos of their performance but I’m not posting them here. Instead, here are the links: Yotzei LeOr, a fast song where you can hear the performance of the individual members a little better, and Uf Gazal.

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