The Things Andrew Carries

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All of Andrew’s classmates carried backpacks. The may have all served the same function, but each was clearly different. Identifiable by whose back it rested on. They carried things based on necessity. Among those necessities or near necessities were a Gemara, a student metro-card, school identification (whose only function was to get a discount at the Chinese restaurant), a prayer book, a wristwatch, teffilin, lunch money, a cell phone, a Hebrew-English dictionary and a Spanish-English dictionary.
What they carried depended on the subject. To math, they carried a sense of humor, the ability to joke with the teacher without getting kicked out. To Tanach, they carried the proper posture, the right attitude and level of seriousness that was expected to bring to the subject daily. Andrew wondered, would his seriousness mask his skepticism?
Andrew carried 613 commandments; he carried the knowledge that generations before him had done what was now expected of him. He carried the legacy of his forefathers. He carried the assumption of others that he in fact said every word during prayer service. He carried in disbelief the notion that Judaic studies were as important as his secular studies. He carried the knowledge that his tzitzit were in his drawer and not on his back. He carried the guilt of being different. He carried the fear that his feelings could be read, transparent and visible for all to see.
At lunch, what they carried was altogether different. Sure, they carried hunger, but more than an appetite for food they carried an appetite for fun. There was the unburdening of anxiety and tension that would eventually mount once the bell signaled a return to class. Nobody dared mention their own stress for fear of appearing different.

Sometimes they carried a legacy, an expectation to perform well, because of who they were, who their sister, mother or parents were. Andrew had no legacy, no last name that meant anything to anyone, perhaps just himself.
Tara carried her parents’ nightmare of the Holocaust. She carried their fear, their disappointment, their unmet goals, the life they never had. She carried the extended family she never met. These burdens met her at every classroom door. When Tara did poorly, she would throw her test papers away, afraid to expose her failure to her parents.
They all carried the pressure to live by the principles of their schools philosophy. Andrew wondered, was there a certain level of chesed that outweighed the immorality and hypocrisy that others displayed? There were the tangible burdens of joining clubs and being an athlete on a sports team. Then there were the intangibles. The guilt of not doing well with a hefty price tag.
They were all Jewish, but Andrew carried the burden of being Jewish. Everyone carried teffilin, but Andrew carried his out of fear. Fear that he would be unaccepted, shunned, kicked out of school or worse the community. Andrew carried the desire for acceptance, to fit in. He carried his reputation and the knowledge that there were those that would do him special favors. Most of all, he carried a heavy heart.



What they carried depended on the subject. To math, they carried a sense of humor, the ability to joke with the teacher without getting kicked out. To Tanach, they carried the proper posture, the right attitude and level of seriousness that was expected to bring to the subject daily. Elazar wondered, would his seriousness mask his skepticism?

Elazar carried 613 commandments; he carried the knowledge that generations before him had done what was now expected of him. He carried the legacy of his forefathers. He carried the assumption of others that he in fact said every word during prayer service. He carried in disbelief the notion that Judaic studies were as important as his secular studies. He carried the knowledge that his tzitzit were in his drawer and not on his back. He carried the guilt of being different. He carried the fear that his feelings could be read, transparent and visible for all to see.

At lunch, what they carried was altogether different. Sure, they carried hunger, but more than an appetite for food they carried an appetite for fun. There was the unburdening of anxiety and tension that would eventually mount once the bell signaled a return to class. Nobody dared mention their own stress for fear of appearing different.

Sometimes they carried a legacy, an expectation to perform well, because of who they were, who their sister, mother or parents were. Elazar had no legacy, no last name that meant anything to anyone, perhaps just himself.

Tara carried her parents’ nightmare of the Holocaust. She carried their fear, their disappointment, their unmet goals, the life they never had. She carried the extended family she never met. These burdens met her at every classroom door. When Tara did poorly, she would throw her test papers away, afraid to expose her failure to her parents.

They all carried the pressure to live by the principles of their schools philosophy. Elazar wondered, was there a certain level of chesed that outweighed the immorality and hypocrisy that others displayed? There were the tangible burdens of joining clubs and being an athlete on a sports team. Then there were the intangibles.

They were all Jewish, but Elazar carried the burden of being Jewish. Everyone carried teffilin, but Elazar carried his out of fear. Fear that he would be unaccepted, shunned, kicked out of school or worse the community. Elazar carried the desire for acceptance, to fit in. He carried his reputation and the knowledge that there were those that would do him special favors. Most of all, he carried a heavy heart.





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bloggergirl93 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 16, 2010 at 10:57 pm
this is really interesting. I think it represents a jewish school really well. check out some of my work?
 
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