The bearded men do it all the same.
They shuffle in nervously, survey their audience, and take a deep breath before delivering their pitch. They speak of the closeness to the students, of the freedom their institution so graciously grants, of the array of opportunities afforded.
Some try to be more persuasive by acknowledging the routine nature of these visits. They think they're clever when they skip the logistics and get down to "what really makes their Yeshiva unique." I appear involved, but what they don't know is that I'm carefully observing, almost studying, the wall behind them. It's not that they're entirely uninteresting, although some of them are dreadfully boring, but it's that the very essence of their institutions reminds me of what I've been robbed of.
I've been told that, in order to develop a connection strong enough to keep me in Judaism, I must go to Yeshiva for a year. I've been told that, in order to have the skills for lifelong learning, I must go to Yeshiva for a year. I've been told that, in order to really delve into the deep philosophical questions that perplex each and every Jew, no matter how devout, I must go to Yeshiva for a year.
Well, what the hell have I been doing for the past four years? Wasting my time, evidently. How saddening. Infuriating, really. It would have been so nice had my institution done enough to ensure a lifelong passion for Judaism in, you know, the twelve years I've been here. But, it's become abundantly clear that high school is merely a launching pad for something more.
What the hell have I been doing for the past four years.