May 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

You Are Affected By Three Things As You Get Older–One Is Your Memory…

From the Desk of… the other two words, I don’t remember. I have always had a bad memory but over the last few years, it’s gotten worse. For 35 years, I taught in a college in Montreal and retired when we talked about a move to Teaneck. We finally did move just over two years ago and last year I started teaching on a very part time basis. I began at a Yeshiva Boys High School in September and what an awakening it has been! It’s been 57 years since I went to Maimonides High School in Boston for grades 9 to 12, but remember very little of it other than it was a great school. Last summer, students from my class at Maimonides began writing to each other. It was amazing. The messages came and went at lightning speed. I vaguely remember most of the students, but got messages from some that I am sure I never met–though they remember me very well! After a month of furious e-mailing, the messages slowed down dramatically and shortly thereafter, they just stopped. Oh well, the exuberance and yearning for youth. (Isn’t it amazing how, as youngsters, we can’t wait for the “freedom” of getting older, and as we get older, especially as we approach our golden years, we wish and yearn for the youth that just flew away from us?)

Though I never taught in a high school, I thought it might be interesting. I’ve always been an excellent teacher (so I’ve been told by countless students and educators), and I thought high school couldn’t be so different–especially just one class in grade 12. Bad reasoning. Teaching high school involves an enormous amount of discipline. I never even thought about that while teaching college–the wonder of what we were studying and the amazing stories I sometimes told, swept most of the students through the always too short classes.

I guess that the problems are probably true in most high schools. But in the school that I am teaching in–or in many day schools or yeshivas–the decorum during secular studies (I hope it’s not also true during Torah classes), is bad to atrocious. I am managing, but not very much enjoying continually disrupting class to tell students to stay in their seats. They simply have no zitzfleisch and are continually getting up and walking around the room or going to their lockers or playing cards with their neighbor or solitaire on their desks. There are a few who are serious and enjoy the classes, but are continually disturbed by the others.

Getting back to memory, though I have only 16 students, I can’t remember any of the student’s names! Throughout my life I’ve had a hard time with names, but it seems much worse for the last while. I’ve always had particular difficulty with relationships. Pretty much anyone beyond aunt, uncle and cousins, I might have known was related to me, but I could never figure out how. So I told my students the first day of class that I probably wouldn’t remember any of their names. And after a few classes they were amazed that it was true, even though they were impressed with my teaching. It was very frustrating and so after a month I took everyone’s picture with them holding a name tag and I study the pictures before almost every class. Unfortunately, it has helped “vi a toiten bankes.” So I guess I will go through the rest of my life, without knowing people’s names unless they remind me and to a significant degree, without recognizing them.

So I ask you again, when I walk past you without indicating in any way that I know you, it would be really nice if you’d say hello and tell me your name, though you may have done so a number of times before. I may remember you after you’ve done that many times, but I doubt that I will recall your name for a long time afterwards. I guess what Samuel Goldwyn wrote in the 60’s “put it out of your mind, in no time, it will be a forgotten memory,” he was talking about me.

Please feel free to contact me regarding this (or any) topic. You can do so anonymously by writing to [email protected]

Dr. Glick was a clinical psychologist as well as rabbi of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel in Montreal.. If you would like to contact him for an appointment, you can do so by writing to him at [email protected] or calling him at 201-983-1532.

By Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick

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