Friday, September 30, 2005

Secret Max

I have been to graduate school 3 times. Most people only know about the 2nd (MA in Educational Linguistics) and the 3rd (Law). This post is about the 1st – an incomplete MA in Rabbinic Literature.

I was 22, I had just returned from an extended stay in Israel, and I thought I might like to be a rabbi. I was attracted to rabbinical school because of the intellectual course of study. I loved reading the Talmud in classical Aramaic and mediaeval Hebrew and arguing points of Jewish law. I loved my philosophy class and bewildering my classmates with my unorthodox views.

But I had to leave because I could not handle the religion. I had kept kosher for 6 months; as I was semi-vegetarian at the time, all it meant for me was giving up shellfish. It didn’t do anything for me spiritually, so at the end of the 6 months I went out and had a lobster. All of my classmates had already declared their intentions to become rabbis; with the contrast I realised that I simply did not believe enough to go through with any of it.

If I had completed my MA and had not gone on to become a rabbi, all I would have been able to do with my education would have been to teach Hebrew school. I was already doing that, and I already felt like an imposter.

Yet I was not an imposter. I was teaching kids ages 12 to 18 to look at the Bible from a modern perspective and to question and explore how we might understand it in a 20th century context. I was also teaching modern Israeli history and politics and trying to give them a broader view. I discussed philosophy with my 12th graders. All of it fit into the Jewish tradition of education.

But I had to quit. I recognised that I was losing my religion and that pretty soon I would be teaching apostasy. I didn’t think that would be the right thing to do so I left my teaching job and my studies and started to think about what else I might like to do.


Monkey said...

I think your time has helped you understand the need for the light of Jesus in today's manic world, and for that I am glad. Consider yourself blessed.

It's not too late to salvage some of that time and at least do something with your life; look here:

Bless you, Sister Max.

Reverend Monkey

Anonymous said...


Sure, you would have made a fine Rabbi but if you didn't make that choice - would you have gone to Prague and met a bunch of crazy people? No...

I, for one am better for it...still basically a tart but a much more balance tart because of your influence.

kiss kiss

Devastatin' Dave said...

You ol' heathen.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

I sat in on one of MM's classes. She was an excellent teacher and her students seemed to genuinely enjoy her.

Rabbinic studies, and Judaism, missed out, in my opinion.

Don't let her fool you.

Monkey's Max said...

Thanks, Asshole. Don't think I haven't noticed you being nicer everywhere.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

I'm still offended that I was mistaken for such a poor impostor.

Monkey's Max said...

Are you questioning my spelling? I had to look "imposter" up in the dictionary because Word didn't like it either. They are both acceptable spellings so I left it the way I had it.

Anyway, Asshole, you were not mistaken for an imposter; an imposter was mistaken for you. And I know you better than that, you are not still offended.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

No, it's pretty tough to offend me, if that's your point.

Regardless, there was confusion. And, you have to admit, he(she) was a rather poor impostor.

Monkey's Max said...

Yes, that was my point. You are much more often the offendor than the offendee.

And yes, there was confusion, but you'll not get another apology out of me.

Why are you on the computer so much today? Mom and Dad are still at your house, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tits, I am happy you didn't finish becoming a Rabbi. I am glad I got to meet you and that you became a good friend of mine in Prague. I celebrated my first Rosh Hashanah with you at the lovely spanish sinagogue with you remember? You were there for me through thick and thin...most of the time. I still remember and tell stories about all the fun we had in the Czech land. ahhhh. nazdravi!