Hasmo Legends II: Yids vs. Yoks – The Religious Mix


Anal (or Madam), Ant (or Veggie), Bacteria Boy, Bad Back (or Cliffhanger), Banana (or Gunga), Banquo (or Ghost), Beetroot (or Purée [yours truly!]), Bubble, Chips (or Gumface), Choirboy, Chuttocks (or, the rather less subtle, Massive Arse), Crab, Egg, Fish, FlakeGnu, Gonzo (two boys), Gus, Jelly, Lanky, Magic (or Tricky), Monkey, Mosquito, Mouldy (two boys), (Paki) Mouse, Mutley, Ox, Potato, Rassen (Fassen), Robot, Lionel (Blair), Shitter, Slobbes, Slow, Sly, Smella, Spider, Stavros, TeabagTsoyvelah (or Waverleh Quaverleh).

These are the nicknames (not including plays on names) that I can still recall, from my year (of ninety boys) alone, some 24 years after leaving Hasmonean.

Piss-taking was rife at Hasmo, though it rarely crossed the bounds of acceptability (unlike the actions of the pupil living opposite the school, who took a pot-shot at Headmaster Rabbi Roberg’s office with an air rifle, penetrating the window). It wasn’t the piss-taking, however, which marked Hasmo apart. What made it the special place that it was, I believe, were the unique racial, ethnic, but especially religious, conflicts and tensions inherent in the school, its teachers and pupils.

Yids against Yoks

Playground footie: Yids vs. Yoks

While I understand that Sabbath observance is now a prerequisite for admission, until 1985 (when I left), at least, only around a third of boys were religious. To save time picking teams for playground football, we just played Yids against Yoks (pejorative Yiddish for Jews and non-Jews, respectively).

Around a quarter of teachers were not Jewish, while a similar number were merely Jewish “lite”. And all of them used to tear their hair out having to deal with the narrow-minded stupidity of the controlling religious “elite”. At one stage, for example, literature considered subversive – including, I seem to recall, George’s Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (about as sexually explicit as an illustrated Bible) – was banned from the syllabus and school library.

As with most things Hasmonean, however, there was usually a humorous side to the meeting of the secular and the religious. For instance, our non-Jewish fourth year form master, Mr. Joughin (back row, fourth from right, in the staff photograph in Hasmo Legends I), could not master the harsh guttural pronunciation (as in German) of Mincha (the afternoon prayer), instead calling us to prayer with his adapted “Minkerisation”.

Hasmonean’s emphasis on Jewish Studies – compulsory every morning, with an after-school Yeshiva Stream for those who couldn’t get enough (or, as in my case, parents who had had enough!) – resulted in an unbalanced education, to the detriment, especially, of the less bright and/or non-self-starters.

gemorahTo make matters worse, the general level of teaching of Jewish Studies was appalling, with little or no thought given to what might capture the interest (and there are plenty of aspects of Judaism which can) of  the less learned or diligent boys (myself included). All I can recall from seven years of Gemorah (Talmud) study are scenarios of one man’s ox goring another’s in a public or private thoroughfare, which had little relevance in 1980s Britain (even in the shtetl of Golders Green). Yes, I know, Talmud study teaches one logic, and how to think . . . but a half-decent educator should have had a ‘plan B’ to offer our recalcitrant Yeshiva Stream ‘B group’. When Rabbi Abrahams, remarkably progressively for Hasmonean, decided to devote one school year to an explanation of the Siddur (daily prayer book) – relevance! shock horror!! – there was a tangible spirit of revolution in the air (though it was one which, sadly, never took wider hold).

So, whilst the more serious, religious boys became more serious and religious, the less religious ones generally lost any interest they might have carried over from their Jewish primary schools or Sunday Cheders (Hebrew classes), which was an opportunity sadly lost.

The religious “elite” generally promoted a rather narrow, unhealthy view of the world (either reinforced or corrected in pupils’ homes). I will never forget our class being advised by Rabbi Schmahl –  a kindly man, and otherwise one of the more normal members of the “elite” –  that we should never stand too close to the tracks on the Underground, because there could always be a Goy (non-Jew) who wanted to push us on. That is quite shocking news for a 14-year old to have to absorb, especially since my father’s colleagues in the medical profession – who my folks used to entertain at our home –  had not exhibited any obvious genocidal tendencies. Anyway, as a result of Rabbi Schmahl’s advice, over subsequent years, I proceeded to push non-Jews onto the tracks . . . before they could do so to me.

Amongst the religious “elite”, there was a small, but seemingly influential, number of anti-Zionists, who somehow succeeded in getting Hatikvah (Israel’s national anthem) banned from school assemblies and speech days. They were led, it seemed, by Osher Baddiel (middle row, third from right), who, it was said, fasted on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). The ban represented pure spinelessness on the part of the school’s decision-makers, seeing as the vast majority of pupils and teachers staunchly supported the State (Rabbi Roberg would later retire to Jerusalem). And it only served to strengthen the Zionist spirit of the boys, who would smuggle in Israeli flags, and sing Hatikvah with renewed gusto, to spite the fundamentalists (yes, we have them too), who it was a joy to watch writhe in discomfort.

Many of the religious “elite” also exhibited a distinct sneering superiority (especially towards the less religious). Even as a young boy, I picked up on the irony of Dr. “Jerry” Gerber (front row, third from right) screwing up his eyes and addressing pupils as “You arrogant boy”. Gerber also somehow managed to take the word Goy – not one with particularly pleasant connotations at the best of times – to a new low, making it rhyme (in a uniquely horrible Golders Green way) with the French fauteuil.

A story comprising a mere two words best illustrates, for me, the arrogance of so many of Hasmo’s religious “elite”, and the oft-justified, Chutzpadik reaction of pupils thereto. On visiting the school, shortly after leaving, with Grant Morgan – my former partner in crime in Cyril’s lessons (though, sadly for me, not in business) –  a newish addition to the teaching staff, Rabbi Fine, poked his head out of the Art Room Annexe window. Looking down his nose (both literally and figuratively) at us, while furrowing his brow, he queried “Yessss . . .?” (as if to ask “Who are you?”) Grant, never short of a riposte, looked up, and replied, conclusively, “No.”

Separated from DJ at birth?

Berkoff: Separated from DJ at birth?

Then, regrettably, there was Mr. Jacobson (front row, third from left), known to all as “DJ”, he of the sinister nippled forehead. Whilst the similarly benippled Stephen Berkoff is only a baddie on stage and screen, DJ’s persistent machinations and snide comments caused him to be widely detested by pupils – with the exception (one would hope) of his poor sons, who were also at the school – and, even, colleagues.

DJ seemed to consider himself de facto Headmaster of Hasmonean, which was odd, seeing as most didn’t even recognise him as Deputy (which, apparently, he officially was). And, if you weren’t “Golders Green religious”, or didn’t go on his summer walking trips – to be that desperate for a summer getaway, one would have to have had paedophiles for parents – he could be extremely vindictive. After I returned to Hasmonean, following a short spell at Haberdashers at the start of the sixth form, DJ delighted in constantly taunting me: “Isaacson, why don’t you go back to City of London?” He riled me and a friend so much, on one occasion, that we conspired to ambush him outside his home (a plot which, sadly, never came to fruition). In fact, when I first heard Morrissey sing “Hang the DJ”, I was convinced that he must have been a Hasmo boy.

Jack “on the gate”, an archetypal East End rough diamond if ever there was one, couldn’t resist attaching “the c word” to every mention of DJ’s name, which, naturally, we delighted in (and even encouraged). Indeed, I learned, and owe my love of, the word – surely the most expressive in the English language – to him. (Jack claimed to have fought in the Battle of Cable Street . . . though, if one believed every ageing East End Jew who has claimed that, and the related stories that they tell, Stalingrad, in comparison, starts to resemble a handbag tiff at a Wizo coffee morning.)

There was also the Ashkenazi/Sephardi (Jews of European/North African origin) thing going on at Hasmonean, with a sizeable minority of boys from Adenite and Indian families. Ethnicity, however, was never an issue at the school, and, until I made Aliyah (emigrated to Israel), ethnic Jewish stereotypes meant nothing to me; so much so, that I was completely oblivious to Eric Elbaz – easily the most mischievous boy in our year (and, arguably, the school) – being Moroccan. . . which, with the benefit of hindsight from my later experience in Israel, he so obviously was! Elbaz, after (inevitably) being thrown out of his own class, would utilise his considerable footballing talents to joyfully and tirelessly crash footballs against other classes’ windows, and then scarper before teachers could nail him. Naturally, Grant Morgan and I would inform Cyril – “Sir, it’s that wretch Elbaz” – but the boy had all the qualities of a Teflon frying pan.

Hasmo’s ethnic mix was further enhanced, in 1979, by the addition to every class of a sprinkling of  refugees from the Iranian Revolution, their rich Farsi accents always giving them a wonderfully naive and startled demeanour. That was when we were in Form 2AB, representing the initials of our second year form master, a certain Mr. Alan Bloomberg.

Next on Hasmo Legends, Part III: Cyril, aka Mr. Bloomberg


379 responses to “Hasmo Legends II: Yids vs. Yoks – The Religious Mix

  1. Michael, your aptitude for the written word baffles me given the ‘quality’ of our education. I have no doubt that you have opened a can of worms here regarding the despotic regime under which they governed and I look forward to the many responses from our piers. The mere mention of DJ sends my blood boiling system into overdrive as I am reminded of the time I conveyed to that excuse of a human being that ‘we were all gassed together’. This won me a well documented ‘ear-twist’ followed by a detention with Mark ‘Rat’ Banin. Now in my 40’s with a wife and four children, my detest for the man hasn’t waned and what I would only give to spend half an hour with him, a tube of UHU, a Bunsen Burner and a goat !

    PS. Yeshiva Stream – you forgot 2p for a bun and orange juice. An incentive if ever there was one !

  2. Michael Benajmin

    Another sterling, well crafted & insightfull essay.
    You must really take yourself and your talents seriously and develop them to the full.
    Your life experiences andabilities are good for a series of novels.
    Keep going.
    Kindest regards

  3. Nathan Azizoff

    Mike, I was at a card evening last night with all ex Hasmos one of which being Jonny Tapper and told him about this site/blog.

    Your talents are wasted …. if this was published, it would be a best seller …. Amongst Hasmo boys that is.

    Keep them coming or as Baz from brent would say (I think he was a year above you) “Yiddos!”

  4. Naomi Conway (Finn)

    Thought you might want to know that an alumni association is being created.
    If you are a Hasmomean alumnus / alumna, please visit the school’s new website at http://www.hasmonean.co.uk/alumni.php and register. It would be greatly appreciated if you could please inform all your friends, family and acquaintances of this link as well.

  5. Another great post. Yids & Yoks indeed…and Pakis!!

    I joined Hasmonean in the second year from a non Jewish, prep school where you simply would not get away with using the “P” word. The first time anyone EVER called me a Paki was on my first day at Hasmonean and as such, I was quite shocked. I would have taken offence but the insult came from a classmate even darker and hairier than me! The name calling ensued later on that same day when I was accosted by ‘Jerry’ Gerber who insited on knowing my “real name”. Needlessly to say I told him ‘Joshua’ at which point he cut me off and said “No! your real name…your Yiddische name!!” From then on, in JS classes I was known as Yesheeyeh.

    With reference to Hatikvah, I remember going to rehearsals for the first school prize day in twenty something years. We were informed – after much deliberation and not a few threats from the governors I imagine – that Hatikvah was to be sung at the end of the evening…but with one minor adjustment. The words “Lehiyot Am Hofshi BeArtzenu” (‘To Be a Free Nation in Our Land ‘) were to be replaced with “Lehiyot Am Kadosh” (To Be a Holy Nation’). Needless to say, that when it came to singing HaTikvah at the end of the Prize giving, every boy who had endured the rehearsals, screamed “Lehiyot Am Hofshi” on cue. I think there was only one other prize day after that…

    Michoel! Great blog. Looking forward to Cyril…

  6. moshe shatzkes

    hi mike,

    you mention elbaz, i go to hasmo weekly to pick up my oldest from football training in the proper gym they now have, and often see the place where the one-touch pitch should still be, just outside the downstairs beis hamedrash (sid’s room) and the biology lab (steve’s room mainly – where he would spend the whole time throwing blackboard rubbers at us!) and still have visions of elbaz playing one touch, all left foot. i loved the whole place so much i would come early just to play football with him, paul & danny h etc etc. thanks for stirring up the memories, m

  7. Mike

    All great stuff, your website will fast become iconic for all the ex-hasmos, yid and yok alike

    There’s just one teacher on whose psychotic excesses I fear you may have missed out – Alan Walters !!!

    If you did ever have the pleasure of attending his classroom circus, please enlighten us.

  8. Patience, Dan . . . of course I haven’t forgotten “Big Al” (to quote Woody Allen, I have a list as long as the one that they found in Eichmann’s pocket when they picked him up!!)

    But please reply with your tales of the Commie loon. I wonder what happened to him? He’s probably teaching Maoist theory on some collective in the Chinese countryside.

  9. No he’s not Dan. He’s still in the ‘6th Form Block’ – what a great name, only the Hasmonean great and good could add such gravitas to a collection of run down, dissused cowsheds – playing band master while his errant students collectively sing ‘Alan is a wanker’ for the entire period much to his overall enjoyment !

  10. Mike & Grant

    One of my favourites about Walters, is when he threatened (in his usual high-pitched screech) to keep the whole class in detention, on an early Friday in the winter. (We were taping the lesson from under a desk at the time, wonder where that TDK C60 ended up? Gilad Jacoby, if you read this – it was your doing).

    Anyway, the entire class, yoks even louder than the yids, naturally protested at the top of their voices: “Oy, Sir, Gevalt, no, Oy Vei, Shabbos, Shabbos !!”

    To which Alan’s typical witty rejoinder was “Oi, SHULLUP”.

    Cometh the hour, cometh the man: one Benji Steinbock it was – on whose shoulder perched momentarily, that inspiring Hasmonean muse that we’ve all known – and piped up, in a voice full of the utmost innocence and concern: “No, sir…..SHABBAT!”

  11. Grant – some detail about those vermin-infested former barracks that you (brainwashed no doubt by the same Robergist propaganda machine, that brought us the £3 school cuppel) describe as the 6th form block:

    My brother was in Hasmo from 1971-1978, and told me that during his last few years there, they were condemned as unsafe and insanitary, boarded up, and earmarked for demolition.

    By the time I arrived as a fresh inmate in Lesser’s Gulag, in 1981, all the governors’ hopeless fundraising ruses had failed so abysmally, that they’d quietly taken the boards off again, and reopened them for the exclusive use of Marks and Soester!

  12. Oddly enough, hailing from South Yorkshire and a very non-Jewish comprehensive school comprising 4 Jews (my brother, me and 2 others) amongst 2000 others, the forms A and B were the rather slow and educationally challenged, I was in form J and, as such, can only speak admiration for your use of the word “pejorative”.

  13. Mike
    A terrific blog and post, no doubt soon to become a favourite with ex-hasmoers.
    The Yids and the Yoks, and the aim of the school that God-forbid none of the Yids will be exposed to the “Yok” way of life, is a skin that has been very difficult to shed over the years. When I think of the resources which we, in the Israeli society, invest in breaking barriers and stereotypes in order to promote respect and courtesy for each other regardless of religious or ethnic background, it bothers me more that Hasmo had, in it’s hand and with little effort needed, potential to help dialogue and understanding, but chose the Golus attitude of separation through constantly being threatened.
    Has this penetrated too deep into our souls to be able to make constructive moves to change this? For some obscure reason, so many Jewish religious movements have been set up and supported to change people; why the need? Because the Yids were always taught that they were better than the Yoks? Is it not time to learn from each other and break the barriers which were installed into us at youth.
    I look forward to reading future posts.
    Matti Munk

  14. Joey Garfinkel

    Worth mentioning the Yoam Haatzmaut – Israel Independence Day, circa 1980, when one Beni Akiva Boy was diligently trying to forcefeed a Neturei Carter sympathizer who was commerating the day by fasting (both were in the 3rd year or so) by shoving crisps into his mouth.

  15. Hi Mike
    On the subject of preparing the pupils for living in a multi-ethnic society, the prize should surely go to King Paley.
    The only fact that I learned in several years of geography education at Hasmo was during a slide slow of Africa carefully prepared by Paley. The first slide depicted an African tribe in their colourful robes. Paley froze the frame and after a moment of contemplation said “Boys, these are called Schvarzes !!!”

  16. Mike, reading this has certainly brought back some great memories. Thank you. Many of your experiences remain so clearly all these years later, as do mine it seems all the way over here in Australia.
    Ironically, each time I watch the football on Sky and Andy Gray makes the comment ”ochh, beautiful! – pure class, Ronaldo just put that ball on a sixpence!!”, you’ll see me turn round to my wife and with a straight face say: ”yeah, but Elbaz could hit the side of your face in the playground at Hasmo from 60 yards.

    Keep these coming.

  17. I have absolutely no idea how I am going to get any work done ! Joey, do you remember that the stools in the physics labs had wooden seats with small holes in the middle. In one of Flop’s lessons you thought it would be funny to stick the top of a lit bunsen burner through the said hole and burn a boy’s arse (can’t remember who it was but it was more than amusing when his head hit the ceiling). I don’t know who was more vexed, the boy or Flop as he flapped and screeched around the lab, with more than a modicum of snot and Ozem Bisli flying from his beard !

  18. Joe Paley!! Not only was he a brilliant and inspirational Geography teacher, he was also a unique expert on International affairs. This hidden skill was demonstrated to our class at the outbreak of the Falklands war. Five minutes into our lesson, he suddenly declared that he needed to speak to Mrs Thatcher. He walked to the blackboard, picked up the board rubber, put it to his ear and said; “Mrs T? Yeah bomb the Argie Bargies”. This was immediately followed by a somersault. For some reason he was given less teaching responsibilities and ended up wandering the school in a red track suit and wooly hat as Chichios’s sidekick…

  19. Hi Leigh. Long time.
    Your Elbaz “60 yards” reminiscence reminds me of the great Gittelmon story (which he hates being reminded of, as he has heard it so many times – sorry, Max!) . . .
    Gittelmon, as was his won’t, grabbed someone’s chocolate rice crispies, one Friday lunctime, and ran out of the dinner hall with it.
    He stood on one of those little porches leading out of the dinner hall and onto the playground, proudly displaying his new trophy, which he was about to tuck into . . . when a football smacked him full in the face and the chocolate rice crispies flew in different directions.
    It just couldn’t have been scripted any better!

  20. I also still marvel at Abie Cohen’s wondrous ability to balloon footballs over a 10-metre wire fence, when standing totally unmarked in front of a completely open goal.

    As for Paley, I recall spending an inordinate amount of time learning about Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso, apparently) . . . but absolutely nothing else. The guy was Pythonesque, singlehandedly ensuring that noone left the school with a Geography O-level.

  21. Joe Paley (OBM, I believe) ……….he once showed us an audio-visual about prehistoric Britain, then warned us “don’t believe it all boys, this evolution stuff is Appy-Korsus”

    We spent the rest of the lesson singing “Appy Korsus to you, Appy Korsus to you, Appy Korsus dear Joe…….Appy Korsus to you”

  22. Yes Mike, I do recall that one. It is incredible how these images stay with you. I am in fact unable to look at a tuna sandwich to this day, without summoning up mental images of Johnny Dubina playing football, whilst eating the odd mouthful after each completed pass. This followed with him tucking it behind his hamstring in a halfhearted attempt to conceal it. I’m sure when the term ‘holding midfielder’ was coined, this wasn’t what anyone had in mind.

  23. Danny Turetsky

    May I suggest you do a blog on child abuse at Hasmo – and teacher abuse while you are at it!
    Mentioning Abie, flop and paley on one page reminds me of my child abuse hit list – which has no less than 14 teachers on it – indictable for use of physical violence on unsuspected little yids.

  24. joe paley was by far the best teacher in hamo. Rabbi Roberg once walked into our lesson whilst we were in the middle of a mock for O levels with Joe Payley invigilating, and found him doing a headstand on the middle of the teachers desk.
    another time he took us for a chasidic dance around the corridors of the school singing, several other teachers were not amused.
    now where else could you find such a unique individual

  25. Michael, superb. Your year at Haberdashers paid off, as there is no way your ability to write so eloquently could have emerged from Mad Dogs’ English lessons. I had restrained myself to add to this blog for fear of writing a book but I can no longer. Reading all these stories is jogging back so many memories… I can’t stop laughing. Contrary to your beliefs, I wasn’t anywhere near the naughtiest at the institution we all had the pleasure to be sectioned to, Baz Kaufman or “fruit” as he was known to his crew was exceptionally nuts, I remember him turning up outside the school gate one afternoon with 500 Brentford FC mentally challenged supporters to kick the crap out of 2 scrawny yoks from St Mary’s who had previously, allegedly, spat out of the top deck of the 240 Bus onto Norman Kahlers head at the precise time that he was explaining to “Fruit” the quickest tube route from Blackfriars to Wimbledon . Worzel (our poor excuse for a security guard) slept through the whole thing.

  26. Thanks for an excellent blog.

    Does anyone else remember the ‘last ever’ prize giving.

    It was at a big hall and some poor ‘honoured’ guest got up to speak. He made the horrible mistake of making some pathetic jokes, and from then on, everytime he paused for breath 600 boys roared with laughter.

    That together with the ‘great Am kodosh incident’ were the final nails in prize day. After that only first years and prize winners were allowed to go to a small ceremony in the school hall …

    Looking forward to the great institution that is ‘Cyril’.

  27. Reminds me of a Mr. “Mad Dog” Marks comment c1993 – “It’s always the frum ones”.

  28. Howard Garfinkel

    In our year we had the so-called ‘G-d Squad’, which were the frummer and apparently more affluent Golders Green types who spoke in ‘old country’ accents.

  29. The “types” who lived on Princes Park Avenue you mean, Howard?! 😉

  30. Ok – now I am on a roll.
    Arguably one of my best ones was when they made the mistake of bringing in a very frum female Economics teacher from the Girls’ school as a substitute for a few weeks.
    The ‘be-sheiteled’ teacher handed a blank piece of paper around the room for us to write down our names, which would serve as a register.
    Predictably, one ‘lout’ wrote down the name ‘Mike Hunt’.
    When the teacher read out the names, no one replied to this name and the class laughed uncontrollably.
    After a few seconds the penny dropped (well so she thought) and the replacement teacher said innocently “Ah!….. I know what is going on….. Mike Hunt is bunking today…. I am sure that Rabbi Roberg would like get to the bottom of where Mike Hunt is!!!”

  31. I am reminded by Leigh Topol that one sunny day, Joe Paley had stood in for his French master and proceeded to take the entire class onto the A41 where, armed with spiral bound pad and pencil, each boy had to note all Renaults, Peugeots and Citroens that passed them by. Only at Hasmo would a class of sub-intelligent boys (invariably ‘Yoks’ and ‘Pakis’) be named ‘Remedial’. You could not make this up !

  32. These stories are brill . . . but don’t forget that good ones are still being added to Hasmo Legends I. My overall favourite, so far, is the “I’m confiscating this sandwich” story. It just sums up the lunacy of the place! At some point, I am going to post a “Top 10” (which I will keep updating), perhaps based on votes.

  33. Jeremy Braude

    Fantastic and so true. Reminded me of the time I walked into school on Yom Ha’atzmaut in a blue and white shirt and Osher Baddiel proceeded to ask me why i was wearing an Auschwitz uniform ! Keep em coming !!

  34. BTW – when do we get to the antics of the late and much lamented Mitch Taylor?

    For example: Chanukah (1987 I think) –

    Mr Roston’s masterful (really) Hasmo choir has just performed a breathtaking Mizmor Shiur in front of the whole school, soprano solos et al; several female teachers in tears from the sheer emotion & beauty; awe-struck silence descends on 600+ boys at the glorious finish….

    ………as Mitch leaps up onto stage with a thud, lower jaw protruding, thrusts knarled conducting arms into the air, and chants from nicotine-soaked throat: “MO-OZ TZUR YE-SHU-O-SI ……. GO!!”

  35. When did Mitch pass away? We were wondering whether he might have defied all those fags. I can still hear his heavy breathing, and visualise the drooling. I am not sure whether he will be “much lamented” by all . . .

    As for the Osher “Auschwitz” comment, one can’t believe that a supposedly God-fearing Jew could have come out with something like that – or, indeed, that the other loons could have come out with some of the things that they did – but we can’t all have been imagining things.

    Another thought . . . Kenley (“the Elder”) has kept oddly quiet through all of this . . . okay, it’s been 24 years, but he can’t have changed that much! 😉

  36. Ahh Osher…what a smug Anti Zionist he was and so sure of himself that it appeared that no one ever managed to wind him up or get the better of him…except the legendary Norman Kahler.

    Norman had the playful habit of singing Hatikvah whenever Osher came into view. Whether on the Stamford Hill coach or in the school corridors Norman would suddenly burst into “Kowl Owd Baleyvav..” and run off and hide. Osher wouldn’t flinch, wouldn’t say a word. Until just before the end of our third year when the weather was unseasonably hot and sweaty and his ridiculous kappel must have been making him itch. Our form were waiting outside the classrooms annexed to the dining room which had those temporary sliding dividers at the back. Norman had spotted Osher inside one of the rooms and burst into “Kowl odd Baleyvav” and then scarpered round the corner into the dining room. He did this about three or four times. Eventually the class finished so Norm ran back into the dining room giggling hoping that Osher would leave through the class’s main door. Suddenly the temporary dividers at the back of the classrooms were thrown open and an enraged Osher pounced on Kahler and proceeded to kick the shit out of him. You can imagine the scene as Osher had Kahler on the floor of the dining room screaming , kicking and slapping him whilst Norm was wailing at the top of his voice, surrounded by all of us pissing ourselves laughing – somewhat in disbelief – at this brilliant spectacle. Baddiel didn’t even stop to pick up his oversized kappel until he had composed himself and walked off…priceless!!

  37. Great blog and apologies if this has been sent in already, but one of the best pieces of chutzpah from a pupil at Hasmo, came from my wife’s cousin, Immanuel Bernstein (now a very highly regarded and respected Rabbi in Israel). Apparently, he wasn’t too particular about ever doing his English homework for Mad Dog. Eventually, in utter exasperation, Mad Dog turned to Immanuel and said “Bernstein, have you got any work for me?” Quick as a flash, Immanuel responded, “Yes, sir – go and clean up the playground”.
    Still makes me chuckle thinking about it!

  38. Another great bit of chutzpah. Not sure if it was Simon Corney or Clifford Corney, but after repeated and consistent bad behaviour, Joughin called in Corney’s mother to school several times to discuss the child’s attitude. Again having to summon Corney to his office, he started off with “Corney, over the last few weeks I’ve seen more of your mother than I have of my wife”. A clearly amused Corney replied, “Why, sir – are you having an affair with my mum?”.

  39. Absolutely hilarious ! I have just had to explain to 10 people in my office why I have suddenly inexplicably cracked up laughing.

    I’ve just been reminded of one occasion when we had Abie for Gemorrah. We had started learning “Beitzah”, and I spent 6 months wondering what an “Aig” was, and being too shy to ask. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he was referring to an Egg !

    To this day I often wonder how so many of the staff managed to avoid being arrested for abuse, and where I might be today if I had received a proper education ? Oh well.

    Keep the stories coming.

  40. Quiz question:

    Who, at least five-times-a-lesson, used to half-open his jacket, peer short-sightedly at his inner pocket, reach for his pen, and exclaim: “Right! The following boys……….”?

  41. Lawrence Hajioff

    I just read two comments above and died laughing! Yup, King Paley was the best!

    Thanks for this Mike! Many good memories, but it was a lunatic asylum!

    Never forget getting slippered by DJ on the second week in school…

    Happy memories….

  42. One of my favourites about the great Steve Posen – a Hasmo classic.

    He had just introduced a classmate’s backside to Timothy (his beloved slipper). Realising that a book had been strategically placed to cushion the blow he stuck his hand down the boy’s trousers and pulled out a gemarah babba metziah.

    The boy got an extra punishment for causing Steve to hit a gemara!

    By the way can come someone give me permission to remove my jacket?

  43. (please affect a Cryril accent when reading this) -Shaya asks if he can remove his jacket ! Well, he can see that I haven’t removed mine (groans from the class to ensure that the punishment is even worse than it was going to be) yet he still has the impudence to ask if he can remove his. Right, you’ll see me after class – no infact you’ll see me now – FOUR SIDES !!!!!!!!!!

  44. Anyone want to swap 4 sides for hot snack?

  45. Reading all these great anecdotes makes me realise that the words of my late father were most apposite about these so-called “teachers”: they were all very well balanced . . . they had a chip on each shoulder!

  46. So true. Some of the teachers were truly psycho. Who can forget Osher violently assaulting a pupil with an umbrella in the middle of a french museum for daring to look up when Osher forced people to daven mincha in the middle of the corridor, or Fierstone giving detentions for ‘attempted murder’ after someone threw a pair of compasses at him, or Tarrant threatening to kill a pupil for asking if he was wearing a wig and / or was gay (I can’t remember which – we used to do it in every French and German lesson) running . Top prize however goes to Percy Mett for throwing a table tennis table out of the sixth form common room window after a certain pupil was his usual naughty self.

    And then there was amazing people, albeit rather misunderstood – like Dr Finklestein, who actually cared a lot about his pupils, but not so much about whether he got his dinner in his beard. I wonder if he shaved it off every Pesach…

  47. Chaim Meghnagi

    Wow, I have literally just spent the last half hour laughing so my hard my stomach is killing me! Thanks for the memories guys and kudos to Mike for starting this. I cant believe no-one has mentioned Posen’s red shirt….. I don’t know for sure when that pic of the teachers was taken, but one things for sure, it was most definitely not Rosh Chodesh!

  48. Who remembers Osher’s channukah candle – the Rabbi with the lamp?

    Who were the boys who picked up Alan walter’s mini and carried out of the front playground?

    What about the 3rd year-4th year bundle, when Jonny Bokor came out to the rioting throngs holding a chair to prtect himself?

    And why has nothing been said about the rude entry of a 1st year 11 year old: Toilet money, Rabbi Roberg’s birthday present, “dumping” in the sandpit, and detagging.

    And we still do need to talk about Chichios’s obsession with whites socks, jockstraps and showers!


  49. Jeremy Cardash

    In response to Danny’s request for teacher violence I would refer to the honourable David Barnett, remember telling Cyril your party piece, “my names David Barnett, two ‘Ts’ no sugar”.
    I am still trying to find that place on the back of the head just under the hairline that Cyril instinctively pulled that caused so much pain. The threat of that would stop Hamas! That and 4 sides!

  50. Just to address some of your queries/concerns . . . Hasmo Legends III (on the Welsh Wizard) is browning nicely in the oven, and – if the first draft is anything to go by – I suggest you take a day off work to read it . . . to avoid leaving puddles on your office floors! Following that, there will be several more posts on the Legends, some dedicated to individuals (Chich, Sid, etc), and others to groups of them. What have I started?!

  51. Jonny Cardash

    Chichos – a real legend .
    I’ve never been the same since he showed us his Jockstrap and something popped out of it to say “hello”.

    Clives’ “Question time” at the end of O2 (non – yeshiva stream “Yocks”) Jewish Studies lesson, was my weekly highlight. Alex Granates weekly question on what is halachicly permitted to do with woman, always made me cry (with laughter).

    And, I won’t talk about the strip poker we played at the back of “Eggy” Lebrechts Maths lessons. – Thats for another day.

    Is the famous “….. using a Kippa under the desk” story true ????

  52. Talking about “question time”, we always had one with “Uncle” Jack Ordman, in after-school Yeshiva Stream. But, whatever we’d ask him, Jack would invariably reply “Sorry, can’t answer that, I’m not a Rabbi” . . . which seemed to defeat the purpose somewhat!

  53. Neil Greenbaum

    Another Paley story – Whilst in the white school van on the way to the annual cricket match at Carmel College we got stuch in a traffic jam on the motorway. Whilst concetrating on other things than the road (I think he might have been doing his famed monkey impression – no hands on the wheel) he lightly bumped into a red car. After some mild encouragement from the Hasmonean first 11 he started to play car snooker – red, colour, red, colour.

  54. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    What a great blog! I was lucky to get inside info on the goings on in the staff room (and staff toilet ) which were quite often even better stories than the stange behaviour of the teachers in front of the pupils . One name not mentioned yet is Rabbi Angel , the famous art teacher , husband to an ex-nun , president of A.S.K.S (the aid(s ) society for kollel students – the kollel student being his son ) and founder of the short lived unofficial tuck shop. One lesson started off with “I have noticed there is a smell in here , I would like to tell you how important it is to wipe your bottom properly before davening” , in another he gave us unsettling details about his wife . The site of him starkers in the Copthall swimming pool changing room (for some reason he used to stay that way for a very long time) would put you off even a monday soya roll. Keep up the good work , but please publish the blogs after working hours – I’ve been doubled up in laughter

  55. Jeremy Cardash

    What about Hasmo on Tour. Our Israel trip flooding a half built shit hole in Chatzor after a very violent water fight, setting fire to the Central Hotel in Sfat, pine cone fights, and of course setting up a noose for the bastard who ran the program in Jerusalem, cant remember the gits name, David 2T’s help me out.

    BTW why had nobody mentioned the holy shrine of bundles otherwise known as the ‘mobile unit’.

  56. Shimon, we’re honoured to have the legendary Jeff’s son with us! Lucky for you that your dad was one of the (relatively ;-)) normal ones! I have got one vivid memory of him, however, which I am saving for Hasmo Legends ??: Mad Dogs and English Teachers.

    Is he still in touch with Mr. Marks (who, I heard, hasn’t been so well)? Anyway, what are the chances that you can get your dad, first to write in, and then perhaps to do some kind of “Ask the Legend” session?!

    Funny you should mention Rabbi Angel in the Copthall changing rooms . . . I think I have been suppressing that memory for all these years!

  57. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    Jeremy – his name was Rabbi “I am not your friend” Gold, made famous for the sentance “The neighbours have complained that you guys go out on the balcony without your pants on” – The same Israel trip the conditions in Hatzor were so bad that Rabbi Kehan and his wife ran away to Tiberius for a week .

    Regarding using my connections in the English Dept. – Ill see what I can do – ever since Rabbi Roberg banned Romeo & Juliet for not being too pornographic for the school , we have to be careful.

  58. Raffy Wreschner

    Chichios – not the most politically correct even for the 80s

    An innocent 1st year walks into the “gym” and asks chichios if he can borrow a football. With an exam taking place at that time chichios’s response was “can’t you see I’m invigilating you spastic”

  59. 4 boys brought a slightly injured and very sweet pigeon that we had found hobbling around the playground before Steve Posen. We asked if we should call the RSPCB . He took it in his large ruddy hands and promptly broke its neck. One dead pigeon – 4 traumatised boys! Aaah Steve Posen. What a nutter!!

  60. Jonathan French

    There is a famous Roberg line that has been brought down through many a generation of Hasmo school boy.
    Once in an assembly with the entire school, whilst Rabbi Roberg the headmaster was
    Giving a speech on the Sidra the continual chatting of one particular boy finally got a response from the irate Rav
    Who shouted “Every time I open my mouth the same idiot begins to talk”

  61. Chich & the great Mr ‘Ackett

    their greatest delight was padding around the gym, barefoot and wet from the shower in Chich’s office, clad only in towels waist-down……. as certain blushing female staff members tried to ignore them and focus on invigilating O-levels

  62. Mike what have you started here?!
    Absolutely brilliant – you are a gifted writer.
    Wanted to add to the comments.

    Chichios – never mind the jockstrap, never mind the “wassos”. Surely much more troubling was his insistence that we were not allowed to wear underpants with our shorts. I am absolutely sure I remember this correctly; lining up at the beginning of the PE lesson for him to “inspect” us to ensure no-one had dared to wear pants. The inspection consisted of him pulling the waistband of each boy’s shorts slightly aside to look down and “check” for absence of pants, then letting go of the waistband with a satisfying snap noise. Anyone caught with pants was instantly slippered. Amazingly, I don’t think any of us thought this unusual enough to mention to our parents.

    DJ and the American accent: that was weird too, plus his propensity to “promote” other teachers by referring to them by more elevated titles like “Dr Bloomberg” (although most of us now would agree that what Cyril really deserved was a knighthood).

    Sid Balin. A whole year of lessons in which we simply shut our books while he spoke to us about French Food. Then he went to sit in his car to have his sandwiches. Repeat after me, to tune of Frere Jacques: “Sidney Balin, Sidney Balin, mangez-vous, what a lot of chocolate, what a lot of chocolate, peanuts too, peanuts too”.

    The Zionist thing was amazing. The nearest I got to understanding what if felt like to be a member of the Palmach or the Irgun was belonging to Hasmo Israel Society. And does anyone remember the famous pseudo Yom Ha’atzmaut assembly which the teachers and rabonnim arranged, presumably conceding to parental pressure. They tried to “sanitise” it by only allowing the recitation of neutral psalms etc. It ended with the singing of Shir Hamalot to the tune of Hatikvah. But this was a provocation too far and the Betar boys (4th year hardliners; Grauss, Beigel etc) started singing the REAL words. Rabbi Roberg told them to stop; a fatal error as the singing gathered in force until virtually the whole school joined in, with Roberg continuing to shout hopelessly “shut up, shut up”. What glorious memories.

  63. Mike……as we say on these shores…GADOL!….best thing since FRIDAY lunch soya rolls (stand corrected Simon son of Jeff).

    Where does one start?…the memories…….the smells…oh yeah,take the GYM……I can still taste that lingering waft of BO in the gym changing room (I think I only realised what it was, once I discovered BO in the 3rd year after a game of squash at Middlesex CC). Is there anyone out there who actually ever took a shower in the gym?

    The only one I can remmeber (other than Chichios, himself) was a poor bloke called Ilan (someone or other) who during a prolonged 3rd year – 4th year bundle (c. 1982) was ceremoniously stuffed into one of Mr T’s metal bins, carried into the gym, and then gang-showered.

    “Chich” I remember being one of the earliest advocates of Health & Saftey in the school , banning both the wearing of kippa (kapul) clips , tziztit, and most dangerous of all …..underpants.

  64. Do you remember sports day when there were 600 boys screaming Chichi Arse Chich Arse and Roberg trying to stop us.

  65. and on the coach to Speech Day at Friends House in Euston – Chich in his shiny PURPLE polyester suit, charging up and down the aisle, slapping heads, as 100 boys chant “Hope it’s Chich, it’s Chich, we ho-ope it’s Chich it’s Chich……”

  66. Daniel Epstein

    Enjoying this blog so much. Keep it up Mike.

    Does anyone remember the rooms at the end of the decidedly unstable “gangway” – Rooms 9, 10, 11 and 12? I think that Dr Lionel “Flop” Finkelstein taught 3F in room 10.

    Anyway, picture if you will, Yeshiva Stream on some arbitrary weekday evening in December. By the time we started at 4.30pm, it was dark.

    One evening, I decided to go into the room early (Room 12) and extracted the “starters” from all the fluorescent light fixtures and stuffed them in my pocket.

    Rabbi Katz made us line up outside the classroom before the lesson. We all went into the classroom, Rabbi Katz switched on the lights and nothing happened. We told him that there had been a massive power cut (lights were blazing in all adjacent classrooms).

    After several inane attempts at re-flicking the light switches, he actually figured out that the starters were missing. After a whole bunch of “Who would do a thing like that, Sir?!”, “It’s a disgrace, sir!”, “Liberties, sir!”, etc., I was “ratted out”.

    I handed back the starters and Rabbi Katz made me climb up and re-insert them into each light fixture.

    Then, he proceeded to calculate on the board how many “mitzvos” we had forfeited due to the timewasting (“If each word of Torah learned is equal to 613 mitzvos, and we could comfortably talk at 200 words per minute, etc….”).

    I then put up my hand and presented him with the calculation of how many mitzvos we had wasted listening to his ridiculous explanation.

    So out of character for me. Must have been a tough day.

    I was forcibly ejected at that point.

    One final story:

    Mr Fierstone.

    The only person I knew who davenned at South Tottenham Adass (or “Saaaaf To’nem Adass” as it is known in the vernacular”).

    A kid threw a compass during his Classical Hebrew GCSE class (pointy thing used to draw circles???!!!) and it landed near his desk. He promptly issued a Detention Slip, whereon he listed the reason for said detention as “Attempted Murder”.

    Finally, as we neared the date of our Classical Hebrew GCSE Exam, another kid and I went up to him at the end of a lesson and, hoping for some spiritual enlightenment and providence, requested a “blessing”.

    “A brocha?! What are you? An Apple?!”

    I think the classes were in “M1” the mobile units at one end of the playground.

    And then there were the breakdancing competitions during lunch break, where someone had to supply the obligatory cardboard box to spin on.

    G-d bless Daniel Marcus!

    So many more….

    I think a reunion is called for in Israel. There are plenty of us here and Jeremy Kanzen did such a nice job in London arranging a few a couple of years back.

    If you go to Friends Reunited, you can find Hasmo and start reconnecting with all your old mates. It’s like Facebook for NW4!



  67. Who remembers Tollytits? Had her for geography. She never stopped writing on that bloody blackboard!

  68. Mike

    I have never laughed so much as I have in reading your blog !

    It is funny but in the little town that I live in Israel we have some 7 or 8 ex hasmos and have been living on our own memories but now the whole world has opened up and we can all share the stories….I feel a bit like my dad when he recounts both hasmo and war stories….in truth I think my children think that I make the stories up……and that is from children who have gone through the nutty Israeli system !

    Just one thing, the story with the jam sandwich been thrown is correct ( I was there) but actually he finished by saying ……..”and your not getting it back”!!! I think even at that time I laughed but in the dark days I remember these comments and even 30 years later it brings a smile to my face.

    so many stories so little time to recount….keep up the good work

  69. James (nice Jewish name) Goldman

    Brilliant blog. Love it. Keep it up.

    I now understand.

    I’d always wondered how it was that an orthodox Jewish school could breed children with so little respect and interest in a wonderful religion. Icould never understand why in 5 years, it never taught me any Gemmora useful for everyday life, like loshan hora.

    I understand now. They were all (well, mostly, crap).

    But some respect to Osha Badiel. He did manage to teach me some useful Gemmora.

  70. Mr Tompkins daughter – anyone?

  71. Jonny Bokor – A lovely, sensitive man who unfortunately for him has never been released from the asylum.

    He once suffered a breakdown in our History lesson, and began crying. He was pleading, “Please boys, I would really appreciate it if you would try to behave, just for a little while. I’m begging you all”.

    We felt so sorry for him; one boy mopped his brow, while another gave him tissues to wipe away his tears.

    To this day, I’ve never come across such a bunch of inept abnormal deviant oddballs, and all under one roof !

  72. Guys,

    This goes out to all of you!!!

    The stories are fab and I am laughing it hurts so much!!!!

    Osher Baddiel — That Bl**dy poem — IF

    Cyril the Squirrel — Those finger aching sides

    Lesser — Those ridiculous made up lines

    Chichios — That slipper

    Tarrantula Tarrant — HIS WIG

    AND Dr FLOP — and his “accidents”

    Guys we all were a part of history and I have been smiling all through writing this!!!! hope you have too

  73. michael murgraff

    To all you wretched creatures
    I am looking for witnesses to the crucifiction of yitscock silver,a thin antisemitic charecature of himself who bought up the whole tuck shop and sold on the contents for a tidy profit untill the rebellion when he was crucified on the wire fence by school ties, the lisping Rabbi Roberg gazed across the gathered boys in assembly looked out of the bay windows and shouted ith cum too mine athension that thilver has been crucified who ith rethponthible,he duely caned a selected few but joyously left the concentation camp physique of the shaven headed sidelocked silver flapping in the wind.

  74. I would like to point out that Shabbos came in, in Yaffo (as in Tel Aviv), at 4:50 pm. If, however, you look at the time at which Murgraff sent that last message…

    Did the boy learn nothing in JS?! (Though I think we all know the answer to that question!!)

  75. Howard Garfinkel

    for the record, i was not a member of the ”G-D Squad”, nobody in a knitted kipah could be one.
    only black and large would do it.

  76. One Sunday morning when Posen is provoked by a boy. He yells, ‘Here boy, catch!’ and hurls a whiteboard marker full force straight at the boy’s head.
    Showing uncanny dexterity the boy catches it and goes ‘Here Sir, catch!’, hurling it straight back.
    Next thing, the boy is being carried out of the classroom by his ears to be hung on the coatpeg outside…

  77. Wow, it’s Mark Klinger – the only pupil in the history of Hasmo that Joughin called by his first name…

  78. Victor Fadlun

    today he would not have a chance there !! today i would do him in for some of his comments.
    My memories of Hasmo are on the whole of a great great fun school.
    I liked Roberg,Baddiel Dj even though Flop was a bit Strange!!!

  79. Like many others, my kids thought I had gone mad hearing me laughing whilst reading this blog.
    I am older than many writers and can confirm that the infamous Firestone compass incident even predates me. The compass thrower was a lad called Shamash who would have started at Hasmo in 1973 (should defiantly be on the louts list).

  80. What an amazing blog! I have so many stories to tell, I really don’t know where to start. My favourite though is the one about the day we came out of shul and saw some papers flying around. We all went to grab them, to find out, astonishingly that they were copies of the forthcoming science exam (I think this was in the 4th Year). Apparently Mr Tomkins had been asked to get rid of the acetates and spoiled copies of the papers. He put them into one of the huge circular bins outside the long room, without ripping them up. The wind had lifted them out and was blowing them around the playground. Kids were running after the sheets and putting them into their pockets. I saw a paper and quickly put it under my shirt, believing that no-one had seen me doing this. Within a few seconds, I had the entire class on top of me rifling through my pockets. They got the sheet out and then started a typical Hasmo scheme of arranging to have photocopies made and sold (what else?) to the other students. An afternote…I still failed the exam!!!

    Does anyone remember Chichios and his never-ending appeal for funds to buy �the meeniboos�? I�ll never forget his thoughtful plea to the kids that �getting money out of your parents is like getting blood out of a stone�. What a guy.

  81. Jeremy Lange: I think the last laugh is on us. I personally witnessed Fierstone issue the same detention slip to Joel Jacobs for the same crime, in 1988. He is regurgitating his gags! On another occasion he also enquired of the same lout why he didn’t just climb on to the roof of the mobile unit and jump off. Which he promptly did.

  82. Jeremy Cardash

    Teachers Penises. Why did we need to be exposed to them being scratched rubbed, caressed, exposed shriveled and saluting, circumcised and Greek.

    In a normal school you’d never be exposed to your teachers genitalia, why in Hasmo was it necessary for us to see Rabbi Angels crown jewels, Chichioses Turkish Delights (calling him a Turk is another great story, I have never seen a man reduced to tears so fast) DJ’s makom sodey among many sets of baiztim. I mean I know the yeshiva stream boys were used to it from the mikva (or their special secret place), but not us. We were never offered any help or counseling . BTW did anyone ever in the history of the school shower after gym?

  83. Following a consultation with my former classmate, Joe Winer, last week, I have added three more nicknames to the list above: (the classic) Bacteria Boy, (the imaginative) Banquo, and (the piscatorial) Fish. I apologise to the three boys concerned, for having overlooked them in the first place.

  84. Looking through some of these posts has reminded me of the great Tourettes epidemic that engulfed the school when I was in the 4th year. It mysteriously erupted after the screening of a BBC documentary called; “Johnny’s Not Mad”. The documentary followed a young boy with Tourettes syndrome who, through no fault of his own, would spit at his Mother and shout all manner of obscenities in public and private alike. The following day, an extraordinary number of pupils were afflicted with Tourettes and were thrown out of classes for abruptly shouting obscenities during lessons.
    Apparently my brother’s year was quite badly affected.

  85. To Jeremy Cardash’s point:

    I only recall the non-Jewish staff using the doorless freezing cold showers, particularly, Mr Joughin and Mr Hackett (the taxi driving football scout) after their lunch time runs.

    During the summer exam season of 1989 or 1991 I remember Rebetzen Kramer coming through the changing rooms to invigilate the afternoon exams – to her surprise Mr Hackett was standing there in all his glory having just stepped out of the shower and with a cheeky smile said “Afternoon, Mrs Kramer”. Not knowing where to put her eyes Mrs Kramer high tailed it out of the changing rooms.

    I often wondered whether the Rabinical elite knew that they had a prophet in the sports department – every games lesson in my first year Chichios would say (in his Greek accent) “I spoke to Hashem today and he told me you gonna go on a run!!”

  86. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    A small clarification about Chichios.

    He never claimed to be a prophet , he raised himself to the level of a Greek Deity – If I remember correctly he would say “You think that Chashem will help you yeshiva stream boys ? I am Chashem and I am going to smash you”

  87. Anyone remember the following Hasmo crazes of the 80s –

    1. Bokor = Timothy Claypole of Rentaghost

    2. What? I WIN !!

  88. Amazing meories!
    what about the time at the end of our lower sixth when out of the kindness of our hearts we decided to present “end of year gifts” to our teachers. The wondeful Mrs Suzanne Stern was duely presented in front of the class with matching summer lingerie! Only at Hasmo!

  89. pauly herszaft

    mike ….how can you forget earwig , smella ,jelly joel , tzovelah , slow talking fast walking , badback glazner and samjesus michaels,

  90. pauly herszaft

    just remembered ……..whitefang and magic

  91. pauly herszaft

    do u remember oshers badiels tzitzit check , we used to have to share 1 pair between at least 6 of us yoks in the back row , also rabbi greenberg whos initials were PIG , he used to have a boardrubber called georgie and was 4 ever whacking our outstreched hands with it ,

  92. Jeremy Cardash

    In 5AC our Greek deity of a form master stuck posters of Cyprus all over the classroom. One morning to his utter horror and our incredible amusement, the posters has been defaced with comments like; Cyprus for Turkish, We hate the Greeks, etc etc. Chichios stood there and cried, “The Turkish they kill my family”, he whimpered, and in true Hasmo style the perpetrators offered to help Chichios find the bastard criminals. Happy days!

  93. Cardash, I’m worried about your post on teachers’ penises. Perhaps, Carmel College might have been a better establishment for you. 😉

    And, I find your last story about Chich crying and whimpering rather hard to believe. He probably slippered the nearest boy’s sorry ass til it was the colour of the Turkish flag!

  94. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    let me just clarify the Cyprus story . No one wrote “we hate the Greeks” – the poster was one of Cyprus and it had on it the caption “The god of beauty was born here ” . Someone (את חטאי אני מזכיר היום) put a dotted line in the middle of the map , and wrote “Turkish Cyprus” next to the caption , and “Greek Cyprus ” on the other side – together with an arrow and “Mr Chichious was born here”. Mr C did burst in to tears and told us about the vinyards stolen from the family by the Turks . I was appointed as the deputy investigator , due to the fact I had raised 15 quid for the multigym in the second year and was in his good books

  95. Tell you what, though, I would have sympathised with Chich today . . . the Turks having proved to be such a bunch of c*nts.

  96. Quality Blog – have not laughed as much for ages ! I am amazed that Pauly H is the only one that has mentioned that obese excuse for a rabbi called Greenberg! He was a total Psycho !
    Keep the stories coming!

  97. Simon "Beanie" Lawrence

    Great memories and rauchous laughter! Anyone remember when Robert Ekeireb (known by Fierstone as Ekeiron?) threw a compass at Fierstone ….. Fierstone’s reply in his unmistakable growl ….. ” Go to Rabbi Roberg and tell him you are expelled for attempted murder” Magic!

  98. A fine blog. Happy days!

    Not sure if anyone remembers Rabbi Katz’s rigorous proof against evolution, which he chose to share with us one JS lesson.

    This involved handing out copies of an article from the Reader’s Digest, pointing out that the theory of evolution had many holes, the numbers didn’t add up etc, and therefore could not possibly be true.

    “Boys, note that this is written by one of them, a Goy! Now not only do we dispute it, but one of their own camp, one of the goyim, disputes it too. Kal Vechomer, we cannot possibly think this is true either.”

    So, in the very polite style of any typical Hasmo boy, someone said “Sir, how can you disprove a theory that is generally expected by many people using one article from Reader’s Digest?”

    “What, you believe in evolution? Detention!”

    What ever happened to Derek, Mr Tomkin’s sidekick?

    I have two Wispa bars left which are going at 50p each…..

  99. Shimon Maoz (Goldstein)

    A truly witty blog which brought back many fond memories.
    Before the caretaker Mr Tompkins, there was a rough type caretaker called Bob who justifiably ran off leaving his “sweet” wife in the flat, (can’t remember her name) but she was built like a brick house and wore skirts that would make the milk in the yeshiva stream tea curdle. Anyway she had this little toddler called Darren who was for ever running away bare-assed around the school building. Often as we sat quietly in our classrooms we could here her shouting at the top of her voice “DARREN WHERE THE F*** ARE YOU” and other similar expletives. On numerous occasions we were sent out to assist in searching for the runt so that we could end the spectacle as quick as possible.

    Another comedy classic was when Noddy Lever was laying it on a bit thick with a certain boy who we shall call Shmuel O. Shmuel’s retort was to tell Noddy to show some respect since he was related to none other than Dovid Hamelech!!.
    Noddy did not know whether to laugh or explode. He in fact took the humorous and proceeded to bow to King Shmuel and apologise that he was not aware of this great honour of having royalty in his class. For that lesson any boy who had a question had to first bow to King Shmuel and then could ask his question.

    10 house points to anyone who remembers:
    Mr Chadwick “Boy talking shtand, Boy not talking shit”
    Mr Witriol “He’s bluffing”
    Charlie Heller and Helen Krolick “Love is in the air”
    Mr Harrison “1000 drachmas and a basket”
    Mr (Bert) Meyers “Were you one of his good boys”
    Keith Lester’s flying circus
    Haystack Jack and Pak-istani assistant, who took 3 months to fix the school gate

  100. Lawrence Hajioff

    No one has mentioned the legalised gambling. Many a young Hasmo boy supported his chocolate habit by playing ‘penny up the wall’ and ‘odds and evens’. Although one day, DJ walked behind the building and caught a bunch of boys gambling, but as I remember it, he wasn’t angry, as he said it “just some Jewish boys trying to make some money”!

  101. Greenberg was a psycho. But I am going to get to him (via the blog, I mean!) and also the other JS nutters.

    And Derek. Bloody hell! How could I forget?! Was “Uncle” from Only Fools and Horses based on him?!

  102. Who remembers Mr. Posen Rosh Chodesh shirt? Or the smell of Mrs Stern? Its a miracle we came out normal.

  103. Avromi Hirsch

    Good stuff.

    First of all the sad news is that Mr Paley is no longer with us. He passed away in the last couple of years.

    I also witnessed an attempted murder charge from Mr Fierstone. Does anyone remember how Clive always used to mention his London University connections to sound important?

    Also a great line from Mad Dog to my class was ” You are worse than Grange Hill you are”. Other standard lines were “it is always the yeshiva stream boys, always the religious ones”.

    What about eggy “I repeat I will not repeat myself”

    Moving on selling. Hasmo was like Petticoat Lane. In my experience you could buy many items with the exception of drugs. Now nearly everyone sold something at one stage. So what did you sell?

    Me, bought a 6 pack of cokes for 99p, had sold them to some mugs by 8.40am for 40p apiece.

    And what about the bundles for the 240.

    We could go on for a long time

  104. Pauly H/ Dave K- you took words out of my mouth… Greenberg (certainly no rabbi in my book) just a “piece of work”who got a kick out of hitting boys for fun with Georige, and he used to fake laragytis to get out of teaching….)

    Along with the “Dereks” there were some other great “D-list” characters…..who remembers?….

    Michael the lab-technician (with the Woody Allen specs). The poor bloke’s mission in life was to try to set out the right equiment for Flop experiments (which were doomed to fail anyway). But poor old Michael never quite succeeded. After a customary berating from Flop….”AAAHHHH MICHAEL!!!!!!!!!”, he’d slink away muttering ” sorry Sir, Dr.Finkelstein , sir”.

    The there was Vic “Listermint” Fagelstone z”l, the craftwork teacher who I am sure used to gargle with industrial coolent each morning, and always got a little too close-up-and-personal.

  105. Mr Finn, the only smell that matched Mrs Stern was that coming from the mouth of Kevin O’connor after the lunch break outings to the boozer. At least her perfume gave us ample time to know she was coming to class, assuming the wind was in our favour. Sometimes I think JK Rawling got the idea of the magical map of Hogwarts from Mrs Stern (to any Potter 3 onward fans).
    But how come no-one has not brought up Chana Mor, the legend who signed ח.מור for years without realizing what an ass she was. I was responsible for collecting money for her leaving gift, got 22 pence from the whole school. Had to nick from Nachum Ordman’s overflowing gift endowment – about 5 pounds from the whole school – to afford something not completely embarrasing.
    Matti Munk

  106. Jeremy Cardash

    You need a whole chapter on the 240, 221 and 125 bus journeys, getting 7 shades beaten out of us by the girls in the purple blazers, getting thrown out of every corner shop between Edgware and Southgate and all those in the middle, having the occasional penny flicked at you to the chant of ‘there you go Jew boy, add it to your collection’, happy days!

  107. Yehuda Kossowsky

    I do hope that Mr. Johnson, the history teacher, and his post-lunch-down-the-pub behavior gets documented somewhere….

    Many were the afternoon classes in which he would stagger in reeking of alcohol, mumble something to the class about reading a few chapters from the textbook, and then proceed to put his head down for the rest of the class!

  108. I don’t know when Johnson taught you but he taught me 1977-1979 approximately and to my mind he was a truly excellent teacher. I too have funny stories to tell about him like:
    Johnson: Marks, you have an annoying habit of always….
    Me: Finishing your sentences? Sir?
    Or the time I came late to a lesson in the sixth-form (we were thoroughly addicted to the bookie at Mill Hill East) and he asked:
    “What happened Marks? Did your horse lose?” (It had)
    But CJ was an excellent teacher and a model to me in my first years. It’s true that he together with Marx, Messum, Soester, Lawrence and a few others did go for a drink in the lunch break but I do not believe that they came back drunk. Maybe, we as those whose parents never entered pubs, assumed that anyone who goes to a pub must be drunk.
    I can still vividly remember Johnson’s lesson about whether Neville Chamberlain was really tricked by Hitler or not and when I asked him what he as a historian thought, he blushed and patiently explained that he was just a history teacher.
    I’m sure he hit me more than once and I’m sure that by the standards of the day I deserved it. If anyone has any knowledge of what became of him, please tell me.

  109. My next Hasmo Legends post, on Cyril, is almost “in the bag”. The interest these posts have sparked has been overwhelming, and I feel a bit like JK Rowling . . . only without the advances! Anyway, the post on Cyril is a lot better than any of that Harry Potter shite (even if I do say so myself) . . . and a lot of it sounds even more far-fetched!

  110. If you need material, I’m your man!

  111. It’s already standing at 2,393 words . . . so I think you’ll have to save it for your “comments”!

  112. Shimon, I remember the “Shmuel O” story well ! You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into disguising the boy’s name. How would anybody guess it was Shmuli Orenstein ?

  113. 2393 words? Isn’t that over 8 sides? I hope it is all about Sensible and Decent Behavior..

  114. pauly herszaft

    does anyone remember rabbi angel when he decided to try and earn some extra cash for himself by starting up his own tuck shop from the art classroom ,i remember the mass bundles of dozens of starving kids pushing and shoving to try and buy a stale croisssant and a manky orange juice while hoping not to fall over the railings 30feet up ouside his room

  115. Interesting how much opinion varies between we alumni on which teachers were good and which bad. But at the same time comforting to note an almost uniform view of Rabbi Greenberg as a complete tosser. Interestingly, I met someone recently who was a member of the shul in Glasgow where Rabbi Greenberg went to as Minister after he left Hasmo. And guess what? They all hated him there too, and the community slowly dwindled away as a result.

    Ah. I just remembered another Chichios story. Me and two friends (Rick? Graham?) decided to bunk off games one Wednesday afternoon. Surreptitiously we scuttled away as everyone else was boarding the coach for games at West Hendon. Off we went, secure in the knowledge that no-one would notice and that a whole afternoon stretched invitingly ahead of us.
    Imagine our surprise, therefore, when, as we strolled down the Great North Way, the coach bound for West Hendon, with Chichios in the front seat, drew up at the traffic lights next to us.
    Chichios spotted us immediately, instructed the driver to stop, leapt out of the coach, and starts pulling our hair, whacking us with a slipper etc. All the boys on the coach are watching the whole spectacle, roaring with laughter. Meanwhile, the traffic lights have turned green, all the cars are stuck behind the coach hooting like crazy, but Chichios completely ignores them and just carries on whacking us! Lights go back to red, then green again, and he’s still having a go at us. Eventually, he gets back on the coach, muttering a last few well-aimed curses, and off they go. Note, he didn’t feel the need to actually get us on the coach to go to games! Why bother, he’d done the whacking so honour was satisfied!

  116. Shimon Maoz (Goldstein)

    The stench from the Zoology lab could be smelt from a distance of at least 50 meters; this was due to the collective smells of caged vermin, splayed out dissected rats with their kishkes nailed to a board, dog fish in formaldehyde and foul smelling liquids in a fume cupboard that was never turned on. Boys literally ran down the corridor desperately hoping that the mangy sausages served by Mrs. Bannister on a Monday would not rise to the surface.
    One of Steve’s experiments was to demonstrate the growth of maggots on old meat. A waste of time since all one had to do was peek in the school kitchen under the sink. Anyway, the experiment involved a long jar with meat inside and muslin on the top. Within days there was this foul spectacle of a writhing mass of hundreds of maggots surrounded by thousands of flies. Of course like a red rag to a bull some villain removed the top and released the swarm into the Zoo lab. For weeks we were being buzzed by these grotesque flies who were happily setting up new homes for next generation Hasmo-maggots. Strangely enough Steve would repeat the same experiment every year.
    One time one of the rats escaped, and rather then chose glorious freedom in nearby Holders Hill park, the rat chose to live in the Zoo lab and eat what ever he could stick his teeth into including the formica of the fume cupboard and the adjacent plaster board. At least he had enough sense to avoid the maggots. However Steve was livid at the damage this rat was causing and no trap or cheese could catch the critter. One day Steve turned up with a wire basket, which would normally be used to catch cats or small dogs, which was just as well since when the poor sod finally walked into the trap (no doubt after passing too many wooden stools-that’s a joke!) he was in fact the size of a large cat.
    I do not know what shocked us more the size of ratty or the sadistic look on Steve’s face as he slowly donned the heavy duty rubber gloves normally used for handling acids. He picked up the cage, looked at ratty and said “Got you, and now it is pay back time”. He then dropped the whole cage into the fish tank. Man did that rat squeal and fight. After a full five minutes ratty was still thrashing around inside the cage. This even surprised Steve but not for long. Removing the cage, he withdrew the struggling rat by the tail and slammed him a few times on the floor. He then took a cricket bat off some poor kid who happened to be walking by bashed the last living daylights out of ratty. Dropping ratty into the bin he removed his gloves, and approached the front of the class saying in his usual booming Steve voice. “OK Gentlemen where were we….”

  117. Jeremy 'Lun' Landau

    The title ‘Yids vs Yoks – The Religious Mix’ reminds me of Thursday morning in my first week at Hasmo. We were davening Shacharis in North Hendon Adass Shul and it was prior to leyning. Mitch Taylor asked Baz ” are you a Cohen ? “. Baz innocently replied ” no, I’m a Koffman “. Without warning, Mitch caught Baz with a right hook. I remember telling Baz how impressed I was, as he took the punch really well. Baz then told me this was quite normal on the terraces at Brentford FC and he was used to street fighting, etc. One of Hasmo’s top louts was born and the rest is history !

  118. I remember Prince Mully too. I also remember that a certain Gary Rosen committed the unforgivable sin of grinning and Mr. Lever decided that he was a “Sly, smurking boy”. Nick Kopaloff was to later write a song about him. I challenge anyone to remember it.

  119. There was a song where the chorus went “Gershon Rosen, they called the baby Gershon.” Is that the one ?

  120. Everyone has mentionned the unique teaching staff. What about the rest of the staff?
    Mrs Cooll stealing balls from boys who continued playing for a millisecond after the bell went. Then throwing them all from her office window on the last day of the year.
    Ken, Ken, Super Ken, super Kenny Fulcher. How could someone live next to a toilet?
    Jack in the Box “Raouund the back,Raouund the back “

  121. Nathan Azizoff

    Has anyone mentioned Da Rebbe Cooper – not the man with the golden gun but the teacher with da real hard pinch!!

    I remember once there was a group of nisht kasher yidden (as we used to refer to the less frum boys) who were playing football in the playground and Rabbi Cooper seeing this went up to the boys and said “You’ll score more goals if you put your cuppels on!!” a Rebbe Cooper special that will remain in my mind for all eternity.

    We all laugh and joke about the poor teaching quality at Hasmo but lets face it, for most of us they were the best years of our lives.

  122. Nathan Azizoff

    Oh by the way another famous saying from Mr (Bert) Myers ….. don’t shmooze, no chochmas!

  123. Was there not a barry lerner – english teacher bit of a hippy – for a few years? Maybe he is one of those that you dont know in the teacher picture?

  124. Nathan Azizoff

    You mean Barry Lent, he was my 3rd year form master and used to refer to us as Maggots!

  125. Does anyone remember Mr. Tomkins sidekick Derek (Del) Young,
    One thing that used to wind the teachers up, was if you failed to stand up when a teacher entered the room. Naturally we failed to stand up if a teacher entered the room, but when Derek the caretaker came in , the class rose without fail.

  126. there was a strange looking woman who taught Latin in my earliest days at the school…was her name Mrs Shapiro? If I recall she looked a bit Japanese.

  127. Yizchak Landau


    returning to the original subject of this blog and reflecting upon both the comments and their authors, it is somewhat ironic that you have so successfully managed to the bridge the divide between “Yid & Yok” in little over a week – something which the school failed to do in its entire history!

    Even better perhaps, is all the professional therapist / analyst / psychologist / psychiatrist fees which you must have saved so many readers – surely no therapy session could achieve what reading this blog is managing to do – even the “suppressed memory” stuff!

    Kol Hakavod!

  128. David Kanareck (Heinz 57)

    I think I may claim to the trading. I was at Hasmo 1955 to about 1959 (I was having such a good time, I lost count of time itself). I saw a niche in the market and started selling sandwiches at usurous prices. Thanks guys for getting my record collection started. Seems nothing changed – our lot were totally mental and the students were not much better. Best years of my life – and met my wife Irene there. Teachers were absolute psychopaths and should never have been let out of the assylum. Who can forget the sight of dear Aubrey Markovitch being chased around the school grounds by R. Wilshansky, or my great friend Laurie Soden being held by his ankles out of a first floor window by some sadistic meshuganah. What a place!! No wonder it produced such epikorsim and great guys

  129. Well Done Danny Landau!

    Next time your in Israel come and visit and I’ll award you a (liquid) prize.


  130. Daniel Tarlow

    Jeremy Braude, could you please recount your trip up to Gateshead yeshiva with the school.

  131. Well now that you’ve asked !! We were driving up to Gateshead in the trusted mini bus with Rabbi Schmahl (a genuinely wonderful man – which is why i regretted this slightly!)We’d obviously stopped a few times on the way (so we could get out, make a brocha and eat a banana!). There had been a few other hilarious stops (suitcases flying off the roof and reversing on a motorway to collect them)! Anyhow, we stopped at a service station and for some reason (that i will never really understand myself) I decided to climb onto the roof of the minibus and see what would happen. When Rabbi Schmahl came back to the bus, some snitch mentioned that i was up there however on calling my name someone else(not sure who) pretended that he was me, so satisfied that no normal person would do something as stupid as climb onto the roof, off he drove!! We got onto the motorway and to be honest, i felt quite safe up there in the beginning and therefore started to wave at people in other cars as we passed them! Their faces I still remember today, both shocked and confused yet some even waved back at me! About ten minutes later I started to feel the cold in my bones and was finding it difficult to hold on anymore. I told the other boys who were sticking their heads out the windows and talking to me to tell Rabbi Scmahl to stop the van but he just assumed they were all joking and refused to stop. Until one boy (and I would appreciate it if anyone could tell me who it was coz he probably saved my life) had the initiative to open the main sliding door of the minibus at full speed which forced Rabbi S to stop the bus. When he realized what had happened, he was none too pleased. But the story unfortunately doesn’t end there. A few minutes later (after someone feeding me boiling coffee as I was shaking so much) there was a loud siren behind us – the coppers !! The 1st thing Rabbi S said was ‘cover Braude under a blanket because we have one too many people in this bus and not enough seats ‘!! He pulled over and the policeman came up to his window and asked ‘Was there a boy on the roof of this minibus?’ at which point out of the blanket I jumped and gave myself up. The end of the story is that in approx 45 years of driving Rabbi Schmahl was given his 1st driving charge ever. How bad did i feel. The next Purim however, I took a Mishloach Manot to his house at which point he showed me a letter he received that morning telling me he’d been let off. Gotta love Purim !!

  132. Braude-What a nutter!! Hope you did not lose your school cappel while roof surfing?

    You are lucky that Mr Paley olov hasholom was not driving as you would have probably found it easier to stay on a bucking bronco!!

  133. Pauly, I remember the Rabbi Angel incident well but far better do I recall the time he hinged the two cupboard doors inwards (so as to close off the square of his corner area) and started cooking sausages in the art room on a make shift hob ! Why you may ask dear reader. Well, the answer is fairly simple – the man was a fucking loon. Who in their right mind puts the lives of 30 talented art students (yeh, right) in danger simply becuase he is feeling a little peckish. However ‘tzedakah’ was the winner that day as once he had finished his cullenary masterpiece, with smoke and the smell of burned meat filling the air, he came around the class with a 3D plastic character moneybox telling us all that it was ‘good to give to Yogi’. What a freak – you couldn’t make it up !

  134. Does anybody remember Mrs Kadoo ?

  135. pauly herszaft

    i do remember mr paley ( with his brown dm boots and his mauve suit ) once taking out chichos beloved”mini-boss” and driving us to copthall, and on the way nearly killing some poor pedestrian up the sliproad , someone then asked him how long had he been driving to which he replied ” i dont have a license ” ,

  136. Graham Summers

    in response to mark w:
    Mrs Shapiro did indeed teach Latin and yes, she certainly DID have a certain look of the orient about her.

    I am sure Reb Elchonon Halpern (or Reb Chunah ) as he is commonly referred to, would be interested in this, seeing as her son is now his personal Gabbai.

    Think he goes by the name of mr miyagee…..

  137. Maurice Golker

    What a fantastic blog, many thanks to Mike and to you all. It has had me laughing out loud. They were really great days even if we didn’t fully appreciate them at the time!

    It is remarkable that although we were awful students and no doubt drove our teachers crazy, we have (in the majority of cases) very fond memories of them and it’s the stories and events that we laugh about without malice to those teachers.

    There are so many stories that will be told on these pages but one of my favourites was when one student (I believe it was John Hool) was leaning back on his chair with his hands behind his head in Jack Ordman’s class when Jack asked him if he was comfortable (no doubt expecting him to immediately sit normally) the answer he got was simply, “we get by”…… only in Hasmonean. More stories to follow but thanks again for a great blog.

  138. Shmuli Orenstein

    DJ was a rather nasty bit of work although I am quite polite to him nowadays. It was my third day at Hasmonean when I mistakenly walked into DJ’s physics lesson in the now demolished physics lab. As a punishment he put my head in the defumation cupboard for 40 minutes saying that he was going to gas me. That is not funny to an 11 year old son of a holocaust survivor. I held a grudge for years. I finally got it out of my system when as a secventeen year old, Graham Summers and I, one winter Motzei Shabbos cracked raw eggs and squashd banana on DJ’s car’s winscreen. The whole lot froze and the next morning we both arose early to drive past DJ’s house to see what was going on. There was DJ poring boiling water and fairy liquid over the mess, making a wonderfully frothy banana omlette. What joy. Payback’s a Bitch.

  139. Shmuli Orenstein

    Major Woodthorpe Harrison was my A Level economics teacher. He was invariably red in the face and blind drunk by the time he taught our class. He drove an old British Layland Mini. At the end of one term we decided to have some fun. Six sixth formers removed his Mini from the car parknd ‘parked’ it in the rear playground. After the hapless Major spent 15 minutes looking for the missing car some sixth formers casually suggested he looked in the rear playground…. Amazingly he still turned up to teach the next term.

  140. Shmuli Orenstein

    Yom Ha’atzmaut was always punctuated by lawlessness. We always sang the Hatikvah at the Assembly much to the disgust of many of the teachers. Boys willfully bunked lessons and remained in school going round in gangs with giant Israeli flags and singing Zionist songs. One year Rabbi Roberg, encouraged by Osher Yitzchok Badiel, tried to stop these marauding Zionists from entering the upstairs Library. Jonno Kandler, keen to please Roberg, sprang into action. He put his considerable weight behind one of Hasmos flimsy doors. With some pushing by me and numerous others, the door disintegrated. The next year school was closed on Yom Ha’atzmaut …. what a disapointment!

  141. Greeting Shmuli Orenstein
    I think that your saying that Harrison “..taught our class” is a surprisingly munificent testimonial. He was the Christian equivalent to most of the Jewish Studies teachers, he never prepared his lessons, had no idea what was on the syllabus and I seriously wonder what grade he would have gotten had he taken the A levels himself. I recall when towards the end of the lower sixth I goaded David Miller into asking:
    “Sir, I wanted to begin revision and wondered whether you could give me a list of the topics that we’ve covered so far this year.”
    Harrison slapped him round the face and told him not to be impertinent.
    I remember the mini incident but was not involved, odds-on I was at the bookie, and insist that it was I that proposed Battersea Dogs Home.
    Finally, please convey my regards to your good lady wife, one of the better looking local ladies of that epoch, as was her sister.

  142. Maurice Golker refers to the story of John Hool in Jack Ordman’s class……..the same individual came into school the day after Rabbi Roberg was shot through his office window (as mentioned in an earlier posting)……with a badge saying “WHO SHOT M.R.?”……Only in Hasmonean………this boy went on to be HEAD BOY!

  143. Graham Summers

    Re Shmuli’s late night DJ payback …… I deny everything !!

  144. Jeremy Cardash

    If it wasn’t for the fact the most of the old guard have left it would be great to compile evidence and take out a group action against the more psycho teachers for physical abuse, mental torture , PTS, just to see the look on their faces.

  145. Barry Lerer – yourbrother John Doe, and Jon Hool, I believe, were the partners in crime who were caught by Nachum Ordman, spinning around on expensive experimental turntables, outside the physics lab.

    When challenged by Nachum with “I say Lerer, who gave you permission t’use this equipment?”, John Doe replied “Hool did, sir!”

    Nachum walked away speechless.

  146. DJ treated a lot of the non-Yeshiva Stream lads extremely obnoxiously. Payback came in Summer of 1974 when leaving the Upper Sixth a group of them ordered him a year’s subscription of Playboy but had it deliberately addressed to the house next door. They took great amusement in envisaging his neighbour, probably also a member of Munks, knocking on his door each month saying: “Your Playboy Mr Jacobson”!

  147. Never can a nipple have been less titillating (if you’ll excuse the pun) than the one situated on DJ’s forehead . . . though I suppose one can’t be a big tit without a nipple.

  148. Dovi Friedmann

    I distinctly remember one Shabbos afternoon phoning DJ’s house. Clearly he, and his family, must have been very worried when we let it ring out on 5 occasions. Eventually someone answered to which all of us at the other end said in unision;

    “You have failed the Shabbos test. You have failed the Shabbos test.”

  149. yanky rosenheim

    thats appalling !

  150. Dovi Friedmann

    Indeed. As was his behaviour over 30+ years at Hasmo. He was no doubt responsible for many, many people losing any sort of interest in Orthodox Judaism.

  151. Dovi Friedmann makes an interesting comment accusing a teacher in Hasmonean of being “responsible for many, many people losing any sort of interest in Orthodox Judaism.”

    I remember that there were some religious pupils, who became more religious under the influence of the Rasputin-like Osher Baddiel but other than them it is really hard to remember all the Jewish Education having a very positive influence.

    Looking back I suspect that a culprit may have been the mussar-based education that many of the teachers had receieved in Gateshead which was so singularly irrelivant to the children of the 70s.

    These were the ages of flower power, soft drugs, free love etc. Could anybody really have imagined that the constant talks about our Yezer Hara. Loshon Horo Szniut etc etc would provide an answer?

  152. Jonathan Landau

    I recall Woodthorpe Jude Harrison saying to a boy who opened his mouth, ” Close your mouth you’ll let the flies in” and he would often refer to his gentile friends.
    He was a graduate from Balliol College, Oxford and he had worked for the Times newspaper.

  153. Jonathan Leci

    Yom Haatzmaut – must have been 1989. We go the caretaker (dont remember his name) to hang up the Israeli flag from his house at the top of the school building. Beleive it or not the flag stayed there the whole day. I remeber the caretaker saying to his assistant “I am going to hang up the Jewish Flag”

  154. David Aisenthal

    I always said that one of the main reasons for leaving England and moving to Israel was so that our kids wont end up going thru Hasmo as we did.
    Rather suprising that some of us (well perhaps a few of us) ended up sort of normal, functional!

  155. I stayed orthodox despite, not because of Hasmo’s influemce. The fact that I can also learn Gemara and enjoy it is pretty miraculous, granted that the teachers at Hasmo made me hate it whilst I was there.

  156. Never laughed so much….my cheeks hurt!

    I am wondering why no one has mentioned Mr Wagner, his Kippah so carefully perched on the back of his head and his wonderful stories – not least the one where saying Shema stopped a plane he was on from crashing…
    Hasmo, A brilliant right of passage…

  157. Great men talk about ideas; Mediocre men talk about things; Small men talk about people. — Admiral Hyman Rickover
    I praise David Aisenthal and also the mysterious “Claude” for raising the level of discussion after some truly tedious stories ideas.
    Aisenthal says that a motivating factor in his aliya was his wish that his children be spared the Hasmonean education. While I’m not sure that it was a factor in my decision, I know where he’s coming from. I do believe that the Jewish Studies teachers of that time will have a terrible reckoning to give to their maker when it comes to explaining why so many young men entered the school as G-d-fearing Jews and left as they left.
    In the sixth form, there was one morning a week when we had a kind of general lesson when one of the more intelligent staff members would talk to us about yiddiskeit. I see no reason in mentioning his name but I’m sure that all those who studied in the 70s will be able to guess.
    I remember one day when he was griping about the fact that we took secular studies more seriously than Jewish studies. We got into the usual ruchniut-gashmiut, Yezer hatov- yezer hara, olam haze-olam haba jive. As usual we were the reshaim unable to see the bigger picture, choosing Hellenism over Judaism. As usual he was talking on G-d’s behalf.
    Then I asked a simple question, which I shall paraphrase:
    You’re right that we take secular studies more seriously than Religious studies but what about you. Do any Jewish studies teachers ever prepare lessons? Our History and Politics and Economics teachers always come to class with a bundle of notes and a clear idea of what they will teach in each lesson. How much time did you spend preparing this lesson?
    The teacher blushed and explained that he wished he had had more time to prepare the lesson. Looking back now, and as a teacher myself, I realize that most of these teachers most of the time were completely negligent in their work and used emotional blackmail and cheap demagogy to make us feel guilty for the fact they couldn’t teach.
    Some people bought that crap and came to believe that they really were reshaim. I think that I was one of them and I can’t deny that there were some upsides to being unable to control my yezer hara etc.
    Many threw off their kippot when they reached the 240 bus stop never to pick them up again. Heaven knows what became of them but they are part of the legacy of the lazy or inept teachers.
    There were some excellent, conscientious hardworking teachers too. I never liked Baddiel because of his nutty political views but his pedagogic skills could not be denied. Richard Rosten also took his job extremely too seriously and he told me things 35 years ago many of which I only appreciate today.
    Rabbi Lewis was a sweet man, very hard-working but like Rosten much too sensitive for the Clockwork Orange like atmosphere of HGS of the 70s.
    I still learn gemara every day and a few years ago when we began beza I fould myself remembering a lot of what Rabbi Abrahams had taught me in the first form so he must have been pretty good too. He also took his job seriously. I may have forgotten someone, and they didn’t all teach me so nobody should infer criticism against any specific teacher.
    My main point is this. If you are a Hasmonean boy and you’re reading this and you are hate gemara or mishna or whatever, don’t blame the book, don’t blame your evil inclination, don’t blame G-d and don’t blame yourself. Blame your lousy teacher.

  158. Woodthorpe (don’t be so bloody daft!!) Harrison – British Constitution. For some perculiar reason Woody inadvertently referred to Elliot Nussbaum as ‘Stuart’ prior to the commencement of the first class of the year. From then on and without fail the entire class chanted ‘Stuart’ ‘Stuart’ in a moronic fashion every time Harrison approached the class – Nussbaum as I recall wasn’t even taking Brit Con but joined the class just for the hell of it. Some people still call Elliot ‘Stuart’. Even his wife!!

  159. btw – can anyone shed some light on the scheduled fights that took place between the 3rd and 4th years in the back playground in my early years (circa 1978) at the school? Fearful louts including J Shamash (gold sprayed DM’s) were most certainly involved.

  160. yanky rosenheim

    shamash v goldman incredible fight by the sandpits…who remembers THAT ??

  161. Brentford v Nussbaum (gym) who remembers THAT??

  162. S.Fox (ex boxers son) v A.Grossman – classic fight!

  163. Thank you for the “mysterious” moniker, Daniel.

    I was at the school as a student from 1979-’85 and then again as a teaching assistant – working under Jonny Bokor (who was much of a mensch as a boss, as he was a teacher) in 1997-8.

    Working at the school, I could already see the positive changes that had taken place, not least as a result of his hard work in setting up and running the superb Supportive Studies Unit (SSU).

    Going to Hasmo didn’t put me off teaching either, as I qualified as an IT teacher four years ago and am currently working in a non-Jewish school. Reading all of the posts, I can assure you as well, that I will never EVER teach at Hasmo either!

  164. Its amazing that despite all the goings on at Hasmo, I still think most of us ended up all right. I think our friends who went to “proper” schools might have a better understanding of the Arts or may even be able to speak Latin, but as far as I am aware, the lack of these two vital skills never stopped a Hasmonick from ever achieving their goals.

    There were many happy times that we all shared and here are just a few that I remember:-

    On one time on a French Trip, we were amused to see that outside the cinema there were stills of some of the scenes, in which some of the female actors appeared to have lost some of their clothes, we duly stole one of the “frum” boys camera and took close up photo’s of all these women. I would have loved to be at his house when his parents brought the photos back from boots.

    On one of DJ’s walking tours the local twonfolk refused to sell us any more swan matches as we had somehow given them the impression that we were piromaniacs due to the skills that we managed to learn in throwing lit matches at one another, or putting a lit match in our mouth and then blowing out the smoke.

    I still remember being annoyed at Oshers wife when on the Hasmo Israel trip she saw a picture of Yossi Fachler in Sinai Camp then proceded to say (in front of many Sinai nicks) “Fachler but I thought he was frum”

    With regard to Braude, he always seemed to be in the thick of trouble. Apart from the ride on the van, Jeremy Braude, Jonathan Sheldon and myself took A Level Ivrit in a small portacabin in front of DJ’s office. One time in an attempt not to get in trouble for not having done his homework, Braude told Fiona Blumfield the fine Ivrit teacher, that he hadn’t be able to do his homewok as his cousin Scott and Charlene had just got married and his neighbour Mrs Mangel was making Sheva Berachos.

    His best line perhaps was his daily question to Rabbi Roberg, “Sir who was the Rama” “Reb Moshe Istttalisttsth” was the reply only for Braude to ask the same question the following day.

    I was once in Mr Fierstone’s class when Simon Berest got thrown through one of the windows, and instead of the person who through him getting in trouble, Berest was told in those imortal words BEREST GET OUT! However the only Nach I ever learnt was what we had to learn with Mr Fierstone for CH O level.

    Mrs Toledano, was a great teacher, and as mentioned previously loved to write on the revolving black board, turning her dark jumpers a shade of white in certain areas. This gave the pupils time to get up to mischief when her back was turned. I’m sure all the boys in Geography GCSE remember Segel getting nabbed as he stood there pouring the contents of his hole puncher all over Yossi Bauernfreunds head.

    I do feel sorry for some of the teachers however. I personally taught there for one year on Sundays and I was put through the same hell as I had seen my teachers being put through. Nothing had changed.

    It is partly due to the fondness that most of us hold for Hasmo, that I now find myself with a daughter who is desperate to go, despite the fact that we live in Israel.

    Finally does anyone remember Hot Snacks, Mrs B, Genges Kahan OBM saying his Manc accent “I’ll tear it”, refering to the dinner tickets, The whole school getting together for Rosh Chodesh Davening in North Hendon Addass, or DJ distributing the Rosh Chodesh buns from Grodz.

    Ahh Happy Times

  165. graham summers

    woodthorpe harrison..

    it was said of him that the only qualification he possessed to teach economics was that his face matched the colour of the F.T.

  166. graham summers

    due to his fondness for the odd ‘L’chaim’…..

  167. Was anyone at school when Jack “Round the Back” built his gate house?

  168. We were once on the walking tour and someone past wind rathe loudly only for Mr Boker to announce “ah the ruach of the walking tour” Fine man, still there.

  169. Boker Tov – Braude don’t be rowdy !!

  170. Anyone remember Mrs Moller mid to late 80’s modern Hebrew teacher.

    Her classic line would be “Ackerman spit it out”. (referring to chewing gum.

    Another great one was “Ackerman, Hirsch, Rubinstein, Roth, Ritvo, all of you GET OUT”

  171. Reuven Lavi (Robin Harding)

    Comments and moments of a hasmo incarceration (1983-1990)

    1. it’s not that we never learnt to speak Latin – it’s that we still can’t speak English properly!

    2.how many “teachers” are reading this blog? Don’t they deserve some entertainment too?

    3. I think that I’ve ruptured a spleen or two laughing over the last few days! (similar to how many of us undoubtedly spent much of our school careers.) My wife is only now just beginning to get a tiny idea of a little inkling of what actually made me who I am today.

    4. how many leading businesspeople of today got their start in Hasmo’s corridors and playground? (I don’t think that Madoff has any bragging rights to that one – he would have been bundled ages ago.)

    5. did Mr Tarrant REALLY wear a wig? to this day I’ve never found out. It surely looked like one, but if you wear a wig you could surely choose a hairstyle that passed for normal, no?

    6. did any of the Jewish Studies teachers have ANY teaching qualifications? how did we spend 7 years “learning” gemara while leaving the school with absolutely no ability to learn 3 words on our own? (and this from someone actually interested!)

    7. does anyone remember DR Gerber playing “kol od belevav” (the bnei akiva anthem) on the piano in the hall when not a lot of people were around? it might have been a knock-on effect of 6 months of rides to school from daniel tarlow with Def Lepard on the stereo every day!

    8. Who designed and chose the material for “the School Kuppel”?

    9. I recall one day when someone asked (as a joke) early one morning Rabbi Roberg if it was true that school was finishing at lunch time today. Rabbi R, looking particularly flustered at being caught out so unprepared informed us that he’d get back to us on this one. Imagine everyone’s surprise (including the staff’s) when school did indeed finish at lunchtime that day. It payed to ask!

    10. Daniel Liss’s (a.k.a. “Liss you nasty little spy”) literary Masterpiece: The Haircut” which he read out in front of Mad Dog’s class, with stomach splitting description of a mad dog being dragged down the stairs for his haircut. Why was it always the boys in the Yeshiva Stream?

    11. We did give one of the chareidi boys an Anthrax thrash metal album to take home and play to his father one day. There were apparently no issues of gezel or nezikin when the tape was returned after being destroyed. Must have been the Hasmo hypocrisy at work.

    12. Roger Gothold shaking his (chronically dandruffy) head in chemistry class: “look Sir, it’s snowing!”

    13. Daniel Marcus lying across Clive Fierstone’s desk during registration one day, asking him if he’d ever get off with the queen on the back of a bus.

    14. the school library. (along with the illiterate and dyslexic librarians who’d spend their time playing cards behind the desk!)

    15. Stuffing the first years into the bins. especially fun when they replaces all the bins with those little yellow ones attched to the walls.

    16. toilet money

    17. Rabbi Bondi (what actually did he do?) and gis green estate car kep together with brown sellotape.

    18. all but one person in a-level politics getting private tutoring – apparently not ALL the secular studies teachers prepared that well! maybe alcohol poisoning?

    19. Mr Soester’s weekly TV performance as an extra in the bar on “brush strokes”, in the same clothes as he wore every day for school. Bless him.

  172. Mr Soester’s weekly performance on Brush Strokes gave me an opportunity to wind up Mad Dog Marks.
    During an English lesson , i him told what a wonderful performance he’d given in Brush Strokes the night before. He said nothing , paused for a few moments and then launched a savage attack to my head with a hardback book.
    As for Mr Soester, a good teacher and a gentleman who deserved a lot better than to be teaching at our joke of a school. I always liked it ,when he handed out the work he’d marked with the line ” i dont want to hear everyone screaming, Yitzy , Shmulli i got half a mark more than you”. Naturally everyone used to scream out what mark they had.

  173. I notice the enigmatic Rabbi Bondi gets a rare mention above. Is his absence on here and general insignificance back in the day just a happy coincidence? My only memory of the guy is that he was sometimes referred to as Bondi double-0-zion. My brother claims to have coined this nickname – anyone want to dispute this?

    Also in Robin Harding’s post is the amusing tale of him having lent an Anthrax tape to a Charedi boy which was subsequently destroyed by the boys father. This reminds me of the time in the 3rd year when the guy sitting next to me in our form room, one Avromi Levene, noticed a Big Country poster on the underside of my desk lid which he proceeded to destroy without a seconds hesitation. The zeal with which he did this was as comical as it was disturbing.

  174. Jonathan Landau

    I recall Rabbi Leonard Bondi who taught Science and Jewish Studies. He lives in Princes Park Avenue NWII and he has 14 children Kein Yirbu.
    Does anyone remember Mr G.J. Jurke who was Chichios’s predecessor ?

  175. Apart from Ken and Yirbu what were R. Bondi’s other 12 kids called?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist

  176. Rabbi Bondi. What was on all the papers he always carried around.
    If you were lucky enough to have him for a “free period” (obviously when the school could not find someone to teach one of the lower JS groups ). Rabbi Bondi would then have to teach something.
    He usually turned up at least 10 minutes late, said “I’ll be back in 5 minutes boys”, and then that was it till the end of the lesson.
    Why did the school not give a damn about the JS groups below A1 and A2? Surely we were the people they should have worked hardest on.
    Rarely did we ever merit to get anyone even half decent.
    I do remember having Rabbi Emanuel for some kind of Jewish Studies lesson, and being thrown out for 2 months for the heinous crime of smiling. Apparently being happy in school was a crime. What ever happened to Rabbi Emanuel did he return to South Afric to turture some blacks, until they were able to get their revenge?

  177. One of Cyril’s best attempts at a joke was when Joseph Mintz got knocked down outside school in the second year. When Cyril (then our form master) broke the news to us, he told us in that great Welsh accent “Someone tried to make ‘Mintz’ meat out of him”!!!
    Talking of Joseph, who was unquestionably one of the best behaved boys in the year. we were on the bridge when the lights went out. For some unknown reason (that Joseph would never disclose) he took a heavy text book out and wacked it over Rabbi Kahan’s head. Rabbi Kahan swung around without flinching and punched Mintz in the face.
    Joseph – the statue of limitations has expired for your crime ! put us out of our misery and explain your actions.

  178. David, I’m still in touch with Jo. I’ll tell him to have a look here.

  179. Was anyone around when my brother David and some of his classmates drove their cars (or should I say parents cars) into the playground nearly killing Mrs Cool?

  180. We once had a chemistry lesson (in the room opposite the large geography room) and the experiment was to see how long the candle would remain lit once a glass container had been placed over it, the only problem was that all the clas got on their chairs and started singing happy birthday to the teacher, can anyone from my year remember who the teacher was?

  181. Robin, you must be getting some of your facts wrong about my driving Dr gerber around. I also played him Iron Maiden and Led Zeppllin!!

  182. Howard Fertleman

    Does anyone remember the various Lag ba Omer outings and other school outings.
    The Rabbi Khan day trips to Boulunge where we brought back those bangers that exploded when pulled. They were subsequently attached to DJ’s various cupboards in the physics lab primed to explode when he opened them. Which he obviously did and clucked around like a startled hen saying “therse been an explosion theres been an explosion”
    The 1976 St Albans Lag Bar Omer outing where we were forced to recite grace after meals in the open air in front of the “yoks ” from other schools and being charged by a pack of them. Lesser and Boker were standing inbetween them and us shouting “Go Back Go Back” When the “yoks didnt they shat themselves and ran.
    Or the Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Iron Bridge outing where we all did the danced the Hora in the museum .
    Did anyone ever see Chichios ever change out of his track suit. Did he ever buy in new one in all the years that he taught there.

  183. Simon Finn and Jeremy Braude – thanks to you both, the Rama story about Roberg has had me in fits for the last 15 minutes!

    2 factual corrections – Genghis z”l was from Gateshead not Manchester; and it was Abie, not DJ, who handed out the stale Rosh Chodesh croissants, slapping the ankles of the many who tried to snaffle a second.

    (Rabbi Bondi would then ascend the stage and “lead” al hamichyo, which was unfortunately largely inaudible, as everyone inflated their empty juice cartons and exploded them underfoot).

  184. Rabbi Bondi- double o zayin was not hard for anyone to make up. Also knows as the man with the golden beard/licensed to give a shiur.

    And he used to turn up 30mins late not 10 mins. But a nice man and may he shep much nachas from his family.

    As for Rabbi Khan when was he niftar? I don’t remember him being that old.

  185. hey, Lebby. Twitler with the bad cardigans. By the way, i know it was you who put the drawing pin on David dwek’s chair. I was put in coventry by the whole class for days. Never forgive you.

  186. Howard Fertleman

    Does anyone remember the classic fight between Baz Koffman and Paul Ulwin.
    The classic fight in between the Adas Shul and the bike sheds between Henry Berest and Allan Dresner.
    Smoking behind the Adas Shul? Smoking behind Finklestein’s mobile unit.
    David Bernard being given the nickname Rothmans by that excuse for a teacher Barry Lent

  187. end of year fights in the playground….
    stamping on the carpets in the shul so that the dust was so thick that bert meyers had to evacuate us…(?lebby again?)..
    who had a stiffy in the gym changing room whilst others changed?…
    those iced donuts and builder’s brew teas before yeshiva stream after school…
    osher baddiel’s slippering sessions down the hall from willy’s office….
    barry lent …wasn’t he that fat git with a crap moustache and badly -fitting yarmi who made us all get grade d at maths a-level and nearly miss out on uni?

  188. and…..shamash stealing dinner tickets..
    toilet money..?2p….scary..
    osher “i implore you not to watch this barbaric event”…ali-foreman rumble in the jungle..
    and…sorry to those of you who never got paid out on my school punishment insurance system for lines and corporal punishment…..bit of a Madoff..ran out of funds.
    Was DJ right about the icepops from down the road being trafe so we could not sell them in summer time?

  189. and tim messom…wwent to the circus to be a ringmaster…and we went to one of the performances..did he not retun later?
    i have shut out hasmo for 30 years….self-defence…but this blog is acceptable catharsis!

  190. The post about the St Albans Lag b’omer riot had me doubled up in laughter. The thought of two Hasmo teachers attempting to stand against a tide of yokelech – you have to admire their bravery though.

    I remember the Dresner/Berest bout vividly. Berest got his ear half chewed off. Whatever happened to him? The last time I saw him he was a special constable harassing innocent passers-by in Vivian Avenue.

  191. Jonathan Landau

    Rabbi Kahan was niftar about a year ago.

  192. Talking of Lag b’omer outings does anyone in my year remember an aborted trip to H.M.S Belfast or somewhere similarly rank. The coach was forced to turn round after some pupils were apparently heard singing songs containing swear words, a heinous crime if ever there was one.

    On arrival back at the school we were herded into a classroom, given slips of paper and asked to anonymously name the suspects who were then taken away for interrogation by Roberg and others whilst the rest of us got back on the coach setting for an entirely different destination. I hadn’t heard anyone swearing but used the opportunity to name a particularly smug over-achiever. About a week later I overheard his horrified mother relating the story to mine over tea and biscuits (they were friends) which was particularly satisfying.

  193. Stephen Goldman

    I first looked at this site a few days ago and it feels like I haven’t stopped laughing
    I have just come back from Israel and had the very unfortunate experience of bumping into DJ at Ben Gurion. Definitlely the nastiest and most sadistic teacher I ever had the misfortune to have.
    Other better memories I have include:
    One of our year trying to flick the back of Mr tarrant’s wig with a ruler and getting body slammed into the lockers for the privelege
    Someone dropping Cyril’s prized record player onto his foot and breaking it – no more tedious music!!
    Being banned from Wagners lower sixth JS lessons and being told he would make sure I couldn’t sit my A Levels!
    The French trip – a week in paris with Osher and his wife.
    Highlights included leaving 2 boys behind and davenning Minchah in the middle of Paris. This meant we were looking around instead of davenning and after warnings Osher decided to pick on poor yok (who is now v frum!!) and beat him with his umbrella until he had an astma atack
    One particular fight in the 6th form common room which involved darts and tear gas – one of the protganists is now a dayan in israel
    Dr Mett chucking our table tennis table out of the first floor window
    Someone mentioned DJ Making up BS stories but in my opinion Wagner was far worse at that
    Messom pushing one of our year through the M Unit door and the door landing on top of him
    All in all best times were had and still talking about it 16 years later

  194. Howard Fertleman

    Does anyone remember being told by Roberg to “stand outside my office” for him to come out 20 minutes later to say “what are you doing here boy” go away.

  195. Howard Fertleman

    Nathan Azizoff
    Nathan dont you hold the record of the pupil who was expelled ” on a permenant basis” by Roberg?
    Or is that record held by Eric Elbaz.
    Maybe you or Eric could enlighten us further.

  196. Howard Fertleman

    Does anyone remember the 1982 Yom Hatzmaut celebrations where us Lower Six Formers and the Upper Six, drove to the girl’s school, drove around their playground and subsequently got out to join in the religious dancing ,(seperately of course).
    We, (after driving to JFS and the Israeli Embassy) were then summerily hauled up to Roberg’s office to be told by Bernard Garbacz , the then Chairman of The Board of Governors, that we were all in serious trouble and were looking at possible expulsion but at least a suspension. There were at least 20 of us squeezed into Roberg’s office when in walks David Garbacz , Bernard’s son who had also been involved. There was a stunned silence until Bernard said “but you’re all nice Jewish boys and I will see what I can do” and of course we all got off scot free.

  197. Speaking of waiting outside Robergs office, does anyone remember the traffic lights he had outside the office and were they ever actually used ?

    One time I was waiting there a mother came along with her son for an interview. The son was not your typical Hasmonean applicant in that he was Nigerian. Not having a particularly good understanding of social etiquette at the time, I informed his bemused mother that they might as well not have bothered coming as her son ‘s chances of getting into the school were zero. They didn’t heed my advice and when Roberg finally came out afterwards he told me without any irony or shame that the law required him to go through this charade, pointless as it was.

  198. Howard,
    Alan Dresner doing a Mike Tyson on my ear! – completely forgotten that – thanks for reminding me. Another of my classics was beating up Ralph Tammam in Hendon Park, and he kept getting up.
    Each time he’d get up I knocked him down again.
    Do you remember the assembly when DJ told us that we were the worst year in the history of the school? He made us stand in the hall and wouldn’t let us leave until he felt that we were behaving. In true Hasmo tradition it became a Mexican Stand-off with all of us shouting ‘Bus Bus’ every time a bus came down HH Road. 45 minutes after school ended, the vindictive bastard gave up. We’d beaten him- again.

  199. Jonny Boker calling my parents to school because on the way to some museum I was caught looking at an advert which featured a girl in a bikini.
    Poor old Jonny was traumatised by this, but not as much as when my mother told him that it was perfectly normal behaviour for a 13 year old. I’ll never forget the look on his face. I almost wet myself.

    Oshers ‘davening charts’ – that man did more to turn me off religion than any other.

  200. Just musing…

    Late on Friday night and I’m playing online poker.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  201. Still in my hotel room in Antigua (see my comment at Hasmo Legends I), catching up with all of your great comments and stories. Sad admission though it is, but writing this series of posts has been easily the best idea I have ever had! My mate and I were supposed to be going out for dinner well over an hour ago, but, so engrossed have I been, I have let him snore on!

    Howard, the Roberg “What are you doing here?” story happened to me (though I suspect not just). And, Aron, when you say that Hasmo was a “right of passage”, I think you indavertently omitted the word “back”!

    Good shabbos from Antigua, once again . . . though I think it’s only you and me now, Henri! 😉


  202. Howard Fertleman

    Who was the most anally retentive teacher,
    Cyril or Osher Badiel.
    Any other nominations?

  203. Howard, I remember the Yom Haatzmaut thing. You drove around the back playground making a figures 8. Eventually, you all had your keys confiscated and there were cars parked all over the place.

    My particular memory of a different event is the only time when we had a real fire in the school. Rabbi Angel’s frying pan had caught fire and set the art room alight. I distinctly remember a thick black plume of smoke coming from the art room.

    This was obviously Divine retribution for all the times he had chased his students around the room, whilst brandishing the said frying pan.

  204. I also remember the time when I was kicked out of Rabbi Shmahl’s lesson for asking in all seriousness whether tefillin which had touched chametz would become chametzdik.

    He thought I was being cheeky.
    The problem is that I still don’t know the answer.

  205. Robert Lederman

    I’ll never forget this ridiculous episode. It’s 2 weeks before the French oral exam. Cyril asks “Quelle temps faites il?” (How’s the weather?) Daniel Kitsberg reples in perfect French “Il faites du brouillard” (It’s foggy).
    Cyril drops his book onto the table, looks out the window and then continues IN ENGLISH “Well Kitsberg, I’m not sure of it is foggy or not. I know it’s a bit misty in the distance but I should imagine that despite that, it’s not too misty for some boys to wase their time kicking a ball around at break time. No, I cannot accept that answer. Anyone else?”

  206. Robert Lederman

    We’re in the mobile unit, 3F, and Flop is walking towards the classroom. We all start chanting to the rhythm of the football chant (when you clap and shout the teams name) “Ah-Ah ah-ah-ah ah-ah-ah-ah Young man! We do this repeatedly. In walks Flop” Right!” he yelps folowed by that deep asthmatic breath in “Where’s the device? Where’s the device!?” He inspected each of our desks looking for a device that could produce the sound of 28 kids yelling this chant.
    There were times at Hasmo when you couldn’t breathe because you were laughing so much.

  207. Who remembers that we used to have to ask Cyril for permisssion to remove our jackets and before he gave permission he would look outside to see if it was hot enough to allow us to sit in our shirts.
    One fine day, after Cyril refused a classmate permission to remove his jacket I decided to test his limits so removed my jacket without asking. Cyril did not notice, so removed my tie. Cyril still didnt notice, so I stripped and sat totally topless in his class.
    when Cyril finally noticed he shouted “what are you doing” in that unforgettable Welsh accent”. I replied that I had a prick doen my neck. Robert Reiss (who was french speaking) then shouted out in a Cyril accent “thats a funny place to have it” Needless to say, Reiss received 10 sides on vulgarity and I got away with it.

  208. I remember getting pushed out of the window my Jonny Cuby.

    I was in shock, and went to Mrs Cool and asked if I can go home. She said I had to go to my form teacher, who was…Fierstone, in whose room I was pushed out of the window. His response was “first you break my window, and now you want to go home? What sort of place do you think we are running here LAD?”

    Then when Fierstonr sent Jeremy Segel home (in his “GO HOME LAD” voice) Segel actually went home, and then the next day Fierstone asked where he went, Jeremy told him he went home. Fierstone exploded “Go stand outside the headmaster office, and if he asks why you are there, tell him I sent you. I want a letter sent to your parents”

    Mr Souester and his TV acting career. I remember standing up in the middle of an english lesson, in the front room and looked around and screamed out “Is there a teacher in the room?”

    I met Mr Tarrant in Brent Cross several years ago, I went up to him and said hello. He said “dont tell me…Berest” I was shocked, and asked how he knew. He said that while our faces changes. the voices stay the same!

    I taught Cheder at South Hampstead one year, and we had an inspection from the US. When Eggie walked into the room, I was 13 again, and I had to struggle to keep a straight face. All I had in my head was “I will not repeat myself, I will NOT repeat myself”

    But my least favourite was Ghenges, as the way he treated kids was a disgrace, and not what one expected from a community Rav. I was at Hendon Adass about 5-6 years ago for a kiddush, and I got talking to him, and he asked what I was doing. I said I was working for the NHS.

    He said “Ahh, that explains what is wrong with the NHS”

    I looked him in the eye and said “One might say the same about you and the education system” He walked off very quickly after that.

  209. Ellis Feigenbaum

    To Terry M
    thanks for reminding me of the trafficlights, they were installed by Mr Stanton, who was unfortunately aflicted with severe arthritis and found it difficult to get up and open the door himself.
    they worked well for a bout a term and a half until we rewired them to show enter when he pressed wait.
    we also continually and i suppose habitualy stole the toilet paper from his toliet, the school issue tissue was guarantedd to wipe the smile off anyones face.

  210. Jeremy Cardash

    Who remembers the Nelly the Elephant (very violent) bundles. When the rock version blasted the chorus it triggered a spontaneous riot with everyone jumping on the smaller haredi kids and causing a scrum of mass proportions. Our school definitely adhered to the Darwinian theory of ‘the fittest survive’.

  211. Rabbiiiii Flax used to borrow a chumash from the “RKML” beit hamedrash above the hall every morning, to use for his shiur, then interrupt Gerry Gerber’s (longer) 6th form shiur in the RKML when bringing it back.

    Until Ginsbury & Scharfer started blocking up the aperture on the shelf after he’d taken it – so he’d come back in, chumash in hand, and stare gormlessly at the chockablock shelf for 3-4 minutes, before leaving the chumash on a table nearby…………this happened every day for about 6 weeks, I kid you not

  212. thanks for bringing back all the memories. Keep them coming..

  213. It’s 1974 first week of the 2nd year and Bert Myers gives us voluntary home work which of course I didn’t do. The next lesson who does he turn to – well of course me, when I explain that I didn’t it because it was “voluntary” he slowly goes into a rage swearing at me in german. Next lesson is french with Cyril – “how do you spell your name boy?” to which I reply “D-A-N…..” Cyril can’t me short “You think I can’t spell your first name boy etc” – I’m thrown out. Next lesson is with Joe (I forget his surname something with a “W”) – whats your name boy? “Ratner,sir” – Ah Flexner – good. Mike you’ve just got me started on 35 years of memories. Tompkin’s daughter someone mentioned, whatabout him winning a packet on Red Rum? My uncle went to the same shul as Lionel Finklestein in Bushey and he used to say “there are 3 types of chazans in my shul 1- a good one 2- a not so good one and 3- a Lionel Finklestein one. Nov. 1975 and Bohemian Rhapsody is no.1, Mark Verstandig and I are sitting at the back of Steve Posen’s early morning shiur 8.45-9.30 and we decide we must sing all of the song, yes all 7 mins. Just as we reach “thunderbolt and lightning very very frightning me Gallileo…” Steve grags both of us out of the lesson to the science lab and gives us each 6 of the best with a gym shoe and yes it did hurt. Remember Chichios the day after SuperMac scored 5 for England against Cyprus, or that fact that as a Cohen I couldn’t do the long country run coz the trees from the cemetery overflowed onto the path “Ah but Ratner you don’t look like a priest” said the man who wouldn’t let us wear underwear. Running for the bloody 240 bus but it only goes to Mill Hill East – should I take it and change to the 221 or wait…..Simon Leigh knocking me out before an english lesson. Osher Baddiel – I liked his niece Miriam – too bad she lived in Newcastle – should been the other way around! Liam Jogen pissed during a 13.55 biology lesson and I mean hammered. Loads more stories in fact probaly 1000’s more. Nice to see loads of familiar names here Eli Baran,Ledermann,Tuetsky,Feigenbaum, Marks etc

  214. Graham Summers

    Loved your story about the Nigerian kid attending an interview. Imagine had he beeen ccepted..chichios would have loved him, DJ’s
    pimple would have exploded on his first sight of the boy and Cyril would have said …hmmm, he thinks he’s ( been ) on the beach !

    Still have fond memories of you and your brother
    occupying the flip up seats at Hendon Adass.
    Still see your dad there, sings a nice Haftorah !

  215. Graham,

    Long time!
    Those flip up seats were always good for a sneaky getaway.
    You still running marathons?

  216. Hi All,

    This whole thing has been great, and sorry to get serious for a second . . . but please don’t forget that there are real people who could be extremely hurt by what is written here. Writing names of girls in relation to past sexual peccadillos, or of ex-pupils with emotional problems, is simply not acceptable, even to my relatively broad mind.

    Even when I am not on holiday (which I currently am), I cannot monitor every post as it comes in. Please use your common sense, and let’s carry on enjoying this in the right spririt. And if anyone does spot anything which they consider inappropriate, please let me know asap.



    (Please also see the “NOTE” at the bottom of my Hasmo Legends I post . . . full names and e-mail addresses when submitting comments!)

  217. Stephen Goldman

    Another great memory is DJ’s office burning down – never did know who did that – but whoever it was deserves a vote of thanks
    Taking cans from the 6th form vending machine by tipping the machine to a near horizontal position – and more than once it comes crasing down disturbing Roberg during his facinating assemblies

  218. graham summers

    yossi klein..

    in the true spirit of a hasmo blog and pehaps egged ( not the bus company !) on by tales of feigenbaum, marks et al, are you willing to have a little wager on whether Mr Lesser did/did not teach at Hasmo Primary.
    say £50 to Kisharon ?

  219. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Graham bet with you? Never in my right mind, last time you gave anyone any money it took a week for them to get the ink of thier hands.

  220. Much has been said on here about the way we were streamed for JS classes but the sectarian/ethnic lines along which we were segregated into our respective forms when entering the school has yet to be mentioned. During my era each yearly intake comprised of three forms, frummers in one, modern orthodox/traditional in another and if you found yourself in the remaining class you were either a yok or a sephardi.

    On my first day in the fourth year I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had been removed from the frummers class and was now officially a yok. That was also the year my folks finally saw sense and stopped wasting their money on yeshiva stream so it was an even prouder moment for me when I was placed in the newly-formed and historically unprecedented 03 group for JS with Mr Rosten, a gentleman if ever there was one – where is he now?

  221. Terry, is your surname Maslin? If so, I thought you were the year below me (starting in 1980).

  222. Yes, I am he, and why does that surprise you? Has there ever been anybody else at Hasmo with the same, dare I say, Christian name?

  223. Pun most definitely intended BTW

  224. Terry,
    I remember you and your sidekick (was it Murgraff?). I seem to remember you doing something to seriosusly piss off a load of us 5th years in your first 5 minutes at the school.
    I can’t remember what it was that you did, but I remember revenge being taken in the sandpit.
    Can you recall?

  225. I thought it was you! You were/are very memorable for being ne of the more colourful guys in the school. What are you up to these days?

  226. Graham.. When would he have had the time to teach at pardes, prep and then hasmo? havent u heard of the credit crunch, or has it flown over hendon and straight into GG….

  227. Henri,

    I know exactly what you’re referring to and my recollection of events is as follows:

    Murgraff and I used to ponce cigarettes off yourself and other 5th years at break time. Murgraff made a deal with a guy who I think was called Dave Simons to sell him a bottle of his parents Johnny Walker Black Label at a knock down price. Murgraff’s parents notice their whisky has gone, question him and he tells them he has sold it to one of a number of older boys who give him cigarettes. Murgraff’s mother phones the school and following this I am hauled up in front of Roberg who asks me to name the smokers. I steadfastly refuse to tell him and he can’t bully me into doing so because my mother is there.

    Next thing I know several 5th years are coming up to me and calling me ‘grass’. Nobody ever took any revenge on me. Perhaps Murgraff would like to fill you in on the rest?

  228. Richard Simmonds

    Not sure if Rabbi Lewis will ever get his own page, but I do remember in 3F being in the top non-Yeshiva stream class and wanting to be demoted to the – and I hate using this derogatory word but it seems to be the only one to use here – Yoks’ class as they had all the fun. In particular, I remember Stephen Grossman telling me that when Rabbi Lewis asked him to do anything fairly innocuous they’d just tell him to f*** off, which to me just seemed the wildest thing. “You try it”, he said, “He doesn’t know what it means”. The words hook, line and sinker spring to mind. Funny that, isn’t it, a teacher objecting to being told to f*** off – whoever would have thought he’d take offence and send me to Roberg?

  229. Richard Simmonds

    On the subject of other, non-legend teachers, I distinctly remember that Anti-Semite Woody Harrison in the first year. The only thing he hated more than Jews were Jews wearing school caps in class. Of course, to us that was red rag to a bull and as sure as eggs were eggs, we’d deliberately leave our caps on with the sole intention of pissing him off. I wish I could remember this boy’s name – apologies but possibly Meir? – left his on quite deliberately after Harrison had expressly shouted at us to “TAKE YOUR CAPS OFF”. Woody was having no more of it, so he went over to this boy and instructed him, face to face, to stand up, and take it off. When the boy did, Woody, standing no more than twelve inches in front of him, smacked him in the face with more force than I had ever seen in my life up till that point. The boy’s face was red the rest of that day.

  230. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Jonny Deal has made an appearance, we have been blessed and graced with the presence of one of the true legends of all time.
    The boy was both an inspiration and a measuring stick to which we had to match if ever to be accepted as true leaders in the feild of delinquent behaviour. I doff my cap to the great one of the mid 70`s.

  231. Terry,
    Thanks for reminding me! I’m in pain from laughing so much at the memories that I had forgotten a lifetime ago. And you’re right – it WAS David Simons.

  232. Henri,

    That wasn’t one of my fonder memories but I’m glad to have had the chance to tell my side of the story after 28 years.

    By far the best I’ve read on here so far though, was your story about Rabbi Lewis (poor guy) trying to convince a boy not to jump out of a window. Why?
    NOT because he was likely to die or seriously injure himself
    NOT because said teacher’s career would have gone out the window with him
    NOT because said teacher and indeed the school would most likely be prosecuted for negligence
    NOT because of the inevitable scandal, embarrassment and bad PR that the school would suffer as a result
    NOT because an entire class of boys would probably be left traumatised for the rest of their lives
    NOT for any of the above reasons, no, but simply because he would be committing an avaira.


  233. You just couldn’t make it up, Terry!
    None of us really realised at the time what an asylum that place was. We were all institutionalised! 😉

  234. Rabbi Lewis…..with long bony fingers that would shame ET. A genuinely decent man who was way out of his depth.
    Yosi…how are you? I remember the hole in the floor well. How each time the leg would go through it the challenge was to produce a more theatrical dive.

  235. How great to have a teacher to unreservedly praise.

    Rabbi Lewis was a wonderful human being who called me Dor-knee-el and taught us gemara in North Hendon Adas.

    We played him up a bit, why not? But I think he loved um yisrael very deeply and a large part of that love was returned.

  236. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    As this is the JS page – I would like to remember the short lived Hasmo teaching career of Rabbi Vershavski , the south african who had the whole school singing “Just one shabbes” in assembly with an electric organ (and Rabbi’s Roberg and Cooper looking on in distaste) . The rabbinic gentleman didnt last long in the school – maybe because his JS lessons with 3rd years had the word semen mentioned in them more often than in a pamphlet for the Royal Navy – despite the official topic was hilchos teffilo of some other facininating hasmo js topic.
    Another name to be remenbered is Rabbi Rabinovitz , from Edgware – who was given the sack for condicting hatikva on speech day (quote from Roberg to us 6th formers – “I sacked the idiot” – I am sure thats how the headmaster should speak of his staff to school boys).

  237. I had earmarked Rabbi Warschawsky as the subject of a future post and I remember that assembly well. My recollection of him was that he cunningly ingratiated himself with us as some sort of Mr nice guy before metamorphosing into a textbook Hasmo tyrant, then disappeared as suddenly as he’d arrived. Anyone remember the ill-fated band he attempted to put together?

    As for Rabbi Rabinowitz, the guy is believe it or not, my Uncle, but please don’t let that inhibit any of you. I didn’t know he’d been sacked but the story does not surprise me as he is well known for his espousal of right wing Zionism.

  238. graham summers

    morning all !!

    just about ready and composed to type up my daily offering…
    martin goldberg’s mention of the ( late) C&A fish bar on Bell Lane ( now the White House),reminds me of a wonderful story that happened to Tony W ( is this Motzei Shem Rah ?… bloody hope so !!) and I, one night in the early 70’s having disembarked the 240 bus after yeshiva stream.

    Having made our purchase from the said establishment, we casually strolled down Brent Street enjoying a hot, tasty, salt and vinegared bag of (treif, as we were to find out) chips.
    Why was it that I was always strolling along somewhere ( see the great ‘chichios Great North Way’ story) with either Wage or Ricky or both – before getting into huge trouble.

    We had got about 100 yards which probably allowed us no more than a few tasty mouthfuls, when a car – driven by the mother of a Munk’s boy screeched loudly to a halt ( she could easily have gone on to be the technical advisor to Bodie and Doyle for all I know) who then proceeded to give us a huge telling off in front of some rather amused passers by..using many words that only later on in our pathetic jewish education we were to discover their meaning – chillul hashem, lefnei iver, maris hoayin…etc !

    my learned defence was as follows:

    1) C&A fish bar regularly advertised in the Hendon Shul ‘ tzibbur ‘ – their bi annual magazine.

    2) a sign in their window clearly stated they fried all the chips in ‘ vegetable oil ‘

    clearly my extensive halachic knowledge held little sway over this irate woman who threatened all sorts of punishments and we had to promise there and then never to buy chips from there again.

    A stale Grodz bun and the watery orange juice was more than adquate as a replacement.

  239. In my era, the “Bun and a Drink” service was open to Yeshiva Stream boys, in the kitchen opposite Room 4 at the 4.15 break.

    Manned (or womanned) by a rota of local mothers (I remember Mrs Hammond and the late Mrs Rubin), a bun cost 5p and a drink a penny.

    Some of us would prefer to use that break to go ‘down the shops’, to the newsagent and convenience store opposite the crematorium, taking food orders from lazier classmates, for a modest delivery charge. Never on a Tuesday though; early closing.

    The other local amenity was ‘down the park’. Out of the main gate, across the road, and down an alleyway was an unspectacular local park, with a set of swings popular with the school smokers, and a brook with a rope swinging from an overhanging branch, popular with daredevil types. It was of course out-of-bounds during the school day, but there was always a minyan or so of boys skulking around, their blazers shining like maroon beacons, practically begging to get beaten up by the (real) yoks from Christ’s College.

  240. Great memories of the park to which Allan Engel refers.

    In particular, some major bridging of the religious divide, so eloquently described on this blog, took place there.

    I remember on the day that the headboy and deputies were announced in our upper 6th (all nice safe Golders Green boys naturally), those 3 individuals bunking off afternoon lessons, to share Silk Cut galore with their less orthodox classmates – a healthy muual respect having set in from the 3rd form onwards, despite the establishment’s best endeavours to the contrary.

  241. Graham – with regard to the C & A Fishbar (now , boruch hashem, metamorphosed into “The White House” Kosher restaurant).
    If I may correct you on one small detail in your (otherwise hilarious) note. The reason we thought the chips were kosher was because the sign on the window said everything was fried in matzo meal, not vegetable oil! I can still remember the screech of ties as the lady concerned emerged from her blue ford cortina.

  242. cyril co-opted me as his pet , since i was one of the few who did french a-level.
    i always got forced to be his scorer at sportsday at Copthall. what a drag.
    We had spotted that he passed our house most shabass mornings on his way to and from shul.
    One morning thus, we went next door to our pot-smokig, trendier neighbours (same ages) and laid an aural trap for Cyril.
    New Boots and Panties by Ian dury and the blockheads…..
    as Cyril passed their house, with windows wide open..we blasted the intro at him.
    “A-seholes, b-stards, F-cking C-nts and pr-icks”.
    The whole world heard it.
    Cyril visibly shook his head, you could see his tight little mouth “tut” and he walked on.
    Man of ice in the veins.
    Except when we “cough-spoke” in the lesson.
    Mark nevies and another, one would cough “sexual”, the other “intercourse”.
    Funny for a nanosecond, but Cyril turned round once and screeched “Baran…IT WAS YOU” and then ran at me, red-faced and boiling and twisted my ear so hard that i swear it hase never rotated quite back to its original position.
    Maybe he was only half Vulcan.

  243. To prove that even those at the very top had no idea how to deal with the yids v yoks mix…..In 3rd year I was doing my maths homework quietly at the back of a Yeshiva Stream lesson being taught by Rabbi Clive Baddiel (cousin of Osher…and David). Rabbi Baddiel eventually noticed and asked me what I was doing “Maths Homework” I replied proudly. “Come bring me your book” he said. “No!” I answered. “Bring me your book” he barked again. “No!” I answered again. “Lerer I am going to ask you for a third time to bring your book to me and if you don’t I am taking you straight to Rabbi Roberg. BRING ME YOUR BOOK!” I calmly replied and said “Sir You know you are just going to put a line through it and I would have wasted the last half an hour. I was not disturbing anyone just getting on with my work……so no I am not going to bring it to you!” With that he jumped up and frogmarched me up the stairs (from Cyril’s classroom) to see Roberg. Once there he explained the story to Roberg. Roberg turned to me and asked me to explain myself. I said “Sir, I come to Yeshiva stream 3 nights a week until 5.45pm. I also come for three hours on a Sunday and I keep Shabbat at home. In all I have over 30 hours less per week to do my homework then half the other boys in my year… I was not disturbing the lesson……should I be penalised for being religious!” Roberg did not know what to say…he mumbled something about Derech Eretz and sent me back to the lesson!

  244. Mark W asked how Eli Nussbaum got the name Stuart, so here goes. During our first ever lesson with the infamous “Woody” Harrison, Woody began to take the attendance register, he got down to Stuart, and asked the class who was Stuart, seeing as there was no Stuart in the class, we all pointed to Eli and screamed “Stuart ” as loud as we could, and this is how the legend of Eli Nussbaum becoming Stuart was born. no matter how many times Woody tried to get to the bottom of Eli’s real name , it was always Stuart and this is how it stayed forever. even to this day I have taught my kids , who have never even seen Stuart, about Stuart.

  245. DJ
    here’s another one for the record. during our sixth form we went down to the river to mess around in lunch break, of course we decided to dump the most serious boy in the river a certain Ronald Aziz. we of course being on sound mind scarpered as soon as he hit the water, as we were already late for a double chemistry lesson with DJ. some five minutes after the lesson started in walks Ronald soaked from head to toe. DJ has a complete fit why he is so late and dripping from head to toe. to which Ronald replies would DJ mind if he spent the restt of the lesson sitting in the sink and draining off!!!
    now that’s hasmonean

  246. The segregation of ‘Yids and Yoks’ was obvious. Roberg and DJ never wanted to ‘contaminate’ the frum kids with those ‘less pure.’

    The irony of all this is of course that the standard of ‘Kodesh’ teaching was so very poor, even for the frummers.

    When those of us who went on to Yeshiva in Israel met American guys from similar religious backgrounds – we reliased that their standard of learning was streets ahead of ours.

    The awful ‘Kodesh’ teaching is really the ultimate shame of Hasmo. I can forgive Hasmo for all the looneytoon teachers, but I cannot forgive them of robbing our generation of a better Jewish education.

    Roberg, Osher and DJ were very ‘machmir’ on discouraging celebration of Israel. To their shame, I would say a good 60% of boys left Hasmo after 6 or 7 years unable to read hebrew to a half decent level.

  247. Interestingly, despite the fact that Hasmo JS staff were obviously not interested in investing any effort in non-Yeshiva Stream students and/or anyone appearing to be of the “yok” persuasion, many of these boys are extremely religious nowadays. In my year alone (Class of 1967-74) I can think of about a dozen seriously frum men who were total “yoks” in school. Given that their frumness was not inspired by Hasmonean, and usually started some time after their departure from school, their rotten learning experiences in JS and/or personal example provided by the frum teaching staff apparently didn’t put them off yiddischkeit. I wonder why?

  248. Jonathan (Jonny) Kovler

    I was in the infamous school assembly where Rabbi Dr. Schonfield announced that “Hasmonean Yeshiva Stream Boys are pure” and that “Hasmonean Yeshiva Stream Girls are pure” noticeably omitting us Yoks.
    The heathens present were so incensed that we began to heckle him with cries of “What about the Jewish Studies Stream we are also decent people” or something similar.
    The School Staff around us told to shut up and show some respect for the ‘great’ old man.
    We understood that as scum we were not entitled to a voice even in the face of senile ramblings and insults……….

  249. The only thing the JS ‘teachers’ hated more than Yoks, were boys from frum families that had turned to the dark side.
    It never occured to them that they did more damage than they could ever repair.
    Whilst noting Davids point about non-orthodox boys becoming frum after leaving the school, my experience is more of people being turned off the religious aspect of Judaism for life.
    These vicious, small-minded bullies had an opportunity to spread a real love for learning, instead they just took out their own pathetic inadequacies by using violence and bullying against kids.

  250. I went into that school frummer than i came out.
    Saturdays or Shabbos used to consist of shul in the morning and going to football in the afternoon. Then my parents signed some ridiculous declaration from the school about keeping Shabbos and that was the end of football for me, as my parents started getting frummer. Needless to say , the school had turned me against going to shul and then i started to go to football on my own and shul has since become a three times a year thing. I thought going to Hasmo would be like going to Cheder, but sadly it was a brainwashing with very little other education.
    Even my parents regretted sending me there in the end. I think they realise that JFS would of been more suitable. Probably wouldnt of been as much fun though.

  251. Kovler, it’s funny that you mention the statement “Yeshiva stream boys are pure!” because I guess I must have totally blocked it from my mind. I was always sure he said that Hasmoneans in general were pure. I guess we all have our own ghosts.

    Many (35 or so) years ago a Bnei Akiva magazine published a comical article about Dr Solomon Schonfeld called “The Wisdom of Solomon”. I wrote back a letter in his defense and was embarrassed to be called to the staff room where Bert Meyers thanked me and told me that if I ever needed him he would be there for me, Needless to say, I never took him up on it.

    I know that when you wrote, “senile ramblings” and described Schonfeld sarcastically as “the ‘great’ old man” you did so out of pain but all the same, for the second time in four decades I shall defend a man who cannot defend himself.

    Rabbi Schonfeld was indeed a great man who devoted his life quite literally to Am Yisrael. He was an unimaginably enormous talmud chacham and academic who Wikipedia describes as “one of the most remarkable, yet least known of the Holocaust heroes..”

    When the he saw the holocaust coming he abandoned all else to the task of saving Jewish children. Schonfeld bought himself an army uniform, put a magen david and the rank of general on it and proceeded to bang on every table of every Nazi collaborator he could reach and threatened them that he personally would see them hanged the war if they didn’t “give him the children”. Literally scores of Jews are breathing today because their grandchildren were rescued by him.

    Tragically, his later life was marred by a brain hemorrhage and the ensuing surgery which left him unable to fully control one side of his body and a large part of his thought process. What we saw in the assemblies of the 70s were sadly all that was left of a true giant of enormous charisma and, incidentally, a wonderful sense of humor.

    So I don’t blame you, Johnny, for not knowing that Schonfeld really was a great man or that he was never “senile” , because I respect your pain and feeling of humiliation when you remember what you perceived as somebody insulting you that day.

    Why not respect Nick’s memories too?

  252. Jonathan (Jonny) Kovler


    You do me a disservice by assuming that I was ignorant of Dr Solomon Schonfeld’s history.
    I am fully aware of Dr Solomon Schonfeld’s incredible heroic efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.
    I was also fully aware of this at the time of the “Hasmonean Yeshiva Stream boys are pure” episode.
    I take issue with the fact that the school allowed a great man in a debilitated and weakened state of mind to stand in front of us and make inflammatory statements that were bound to provoke a reaction.

    Regarding Nicks memories I find it strange that you feel that I was being disrespectful?
    Nick – No offence was intended to you or anyone else on this blog.
    If you re-read what I wrote you will clearly see that I agreed that we experienced some pretty horrible episodes.

    In my opinion (and Mike please correct me if I am wrong) this blog was not meant to be a platform for spite or malice.
    In the main the contributors to this blog just seem to be trying to exorcise some nasty demons through laughter.

    I wish all the Hasmo ex-inmates a Shabbat Shalom!

  253. To Jonny Kovler: I was in an unusal situation at school coz due to some mistake I was in the yeshiva stream form but I wasn’t in the “yeshiva stream”. Just like you (or with you) I left school at 4:15 to catch the 240 while my class mates stayed on till whenever. I seem to remember ( I may be wrong) but you used to get off at The Green Man or at Hale Lane. I did in fact experience the yeshive stream in the 3rd year but after a term of Philip Greenberg smacking us about I decided thankyou but no thankyou. Like you I was present that day when Schonfeld insulted 2/3 of the school (Was my 2nd year – your 3rd) and even though I was able to pretend that I was in the yeshiva stream – it did hurt what he said, but it shouldn’t have bothered you coz you went to shul every week with your dad and your 3 brothers (if its 4 correct me) just like I went there with my dad and brothers. You were all known and were active members of the community and therefore Schonfeld was of course wrong. Everybody on this blog spent between 5 to 7 years at Hasmo so therefore everyone is entitled to his opinion. I hope Melchett bans this yanky rosenheim character that nobody seems to know from this site- who the f is he to judge someone? Jonny you feel free to continue to add your intersting comments.

  254. Jonny K, not only are you fully entitled to your opinion on melchett mike, but I wholeheartedly agree with it. I mentioned Rabbi Dr Schonfeld’s heroic past in Hasmo Legends I. I remember, however, that we would joke about his speeches on “Concorde and mash potoatos”. Now, I couldn’t swear that he used those precise words, or spoke on that exact subject, but the fact that we joked about it suggests he wasn’t always entirely to the point either. I certainly recall him ranting about the prohibition on boys dressing up as girls on Purim. The “idiots that were” at Hasmonean allowed a once great man to humiliate himself.

    From V. C. Bird International Airport, Antigua . . . g’shabbes!


  255. Mike,
    First of all, I totally agree with you that Johnny is entitled to his opinion. I respect Johnny very much and he knows that I have always liked him. We even shared a few things in the distant past, but to elaborate would be outside the scope of this blog and could rock the already volatile orthodox Jewish world as we know it.
    Just to clarify things, I was in the Yeshiva stream at the time and was far from pure – again to go into details would be in bad taste. If I’m not mistaken Mr. Kopaloff was also in the Yeshiva stream and he was much less pure than I – lucky bastard. At the time we, like most healthy young men, prided ourselves in being impure were prepared to expend a not inconsiderable amount of time and resources to stay as impure as possible. I have no first hand data as to how pure or impure Mr. Kovler was, but I certainly remember that he was very healthy. Though it may surprise many readers, there were even certain young men in the Yeshiva stream and outside of it who stayed pure, but not for the lack of trying, and were prone to invent imaginary incidents to substantiate the claim that they were, in fact, less pure than they really were. Names are superfluous.
    I seem to recall that Mr. E Feigenbaum was still wholly pure, not having as yet availed himself of the required financial resources to rectify that predicament in a professional way.
    As I have already said, old age had caused me to forget that the statement had been made about the Yeshiva stream and not Hasmoneans in general, but at the time I just thought it to be amusing – I was neither proud nor humiliated. I believe it was David Hare who said, “Purity is the feminine, truth the masculine of honor.”
    Finally, let me publicly apologize if I offended Mr. Kovler.

  256. Jonathan (Jonny) Kovler


    I of course accept you apology and appreciate your gracious words.
    Now enough of this introspection and on with the serious business of writing amusing anecdotes that sometimes even border on being truthful.

    Best regards – Jonny

  257. Mike,

    My opinion for what its worth, if somebody wishes to avail themselves of the nom de plume “yanky rosenheim” for reasons of his own, why not?

  258. Daniel,

    Making up for my (relatively) conservative and well-spent youth, these days I am in favour of as much “impurity” as possible! So – as long as it is not defamatory (remember, truth is a defence!) – please do elaborate!

    Re the mysterious “Yanky Rosenheim”, while I understand where you are coming from, for the Hasmo Legends series, I am not sure I want people telling stories, etc, behind assumed names. I try to intervene here as little as possible, but I just think it could be open to abuse . . .

    Gut voch!


  259. Oh, a small semantic point for the esteemed Daniel Ratner :

    Danny mate, I’m not sure that going to shul ever week with one’s father and three (or even four) brothers was what Rabbi Schonfeld had in mind when he employed the term “pure”. I refer you to the excellent Monty Python of that epoch, “A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind dog, know what I mean? Say no more!”

  260. ..er….you’ll have to run that one by me again.

  261. Shavua Tov Danny!

    When Schonfeld said “pure” he meant that they were sexually inexperienced, not that they were not observant.

    Whether or not they went to shul every week with their fathers and any number of brothers is neither here nor there and in no way factored into their pure/impure status.


    Daniel Marks

  262. How did you come to the conclusion that he meant pure with regard to our sexual behavior? You might be right but when I heard him say it I took it for granted he was talking about how “frumer” the yeshiva stream boys were compared to the other boys. Whatever, it was 35 years ago….ha-ikar ha-breeyut kmo she-omrim ….

  263. I refer you to the wikipedia and its articles on purity in Judaism:


    You will notice that synagogue attendance, again with or without brothers, has never been in any way connected to the subject.

    Had Schonfeld wished raise the question as to who goes to shul, he would doubtless have availed himself of the dreadful expression “frumkite” or its like.

  264. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Daniel thank you for remeinding me, but you owe me 25 pounds from our day out in Soho in 1976, Istill have no idea what you needed that much for, but I never actually asked how many you needed it for.
    In anycase I accept all forms of payment index limked of course.

  265. Ellis I’m not sure if you mean me or Marks coz I was with you and Ian Landau (why was he with us?) in Soho in 1973 when I was pickpocketed by some bitch and you lent me money to get home, but I’m sure it was about 25p not 25 pounds.

  266. Ellis Feigenbaum

    wow you were 12 years old an there was already a woman with her hands in your pocket, now thats what I call education for life.

  267. no I was 11 – you were 12. Real men of the world hanging out in Soho!

  268. Hi Terry,

    I remember the lag bomer fiasco well. We were sitting on the coach singing “Build a bonfire….Put the teachers on the top…. Put Rabbi Roberg in the middle and burn the f***ing lot”. Well at first, we sang it without the f word but even then Mr Lesser’s blood pressure was rising at the front of the bus. We indeed turned round etc and eventually went to some park with rowing boats. We had a much better time than those in HMS Belfast especially when, I think, Dovid Neufeld managed to tip his canoe over and fall in the water. I dont remember anyone getting into trouble for swearing though.

    I remember your mate,Murgraff, well too. He was bigger and tougher than you but you were certainly more courageous.

    I remember one french lesson with a female teacher in room one. She seemingly wasnt wearing a bra that day and her blouse was somewhat tight. In room one there was four seats at right angles to the teacher opposite the door and from their position they managed to peek into her blouse and see some female flesh. Now the four boys sitting there were probably the frummest, anti-yok etc boys in the year (maybe the school) – I remember two of them – and they literally fought each other to get a better view. Well we were somewhat jealous!!!

    Terry, do you remember the boy who snitched you up for writing “Miss World, go back to Australia” on the blackboard before a geography lesson with some new teacher? She walked out in tears. He was “sent to Coventry” for years for that evil sin by the WHOLE class (Yids + Yoks alike)

    What a loony bin!! But I’m killing myself laughing though now.

    Thanks Mike, a great site!!

  269. Mike!

    I’m afraid that I am far too young to have been a contemporary, so cannot recall many of your stories or those of your peers, but want to commend you nonetheless on such a well written (and long awaited) blog/posts.

    Generations of alumni (or is inmates a more appropriate expression?!) salute you!!

    The thing that strikes me most is that despite the large gap between our incarcerations, the experiences we shared are so similar. (I attended between 1987 and 1994) It’s hard to imagine that a school full of such crackpots and loons can have remained so unchanged by time over so many years – many of the teacher leg-ends you refer to were still there in my time!!

    The time spent reading through the blogs and responses has brought back so many memories and attracted some very unusual looks from colleagues who cannot understand why I am doubled over with tears in my eyes……

    Given more time I would share my own stories about some of the Kodesh teachers not mentioned here (latter day saints perhaps?) such as R Sebbag, R Emmanuel et al, but time does not permit, although I promise to return.

    And of course who can forget the cries of ’round the table’ in the 6th form common room, the day that the Marcus’s entrepreneurs bit of a little more than they could chew and for those young enough to remember; the joy and wonderment that was the appointment of Mrs Coleman as the first ever female headteacher of Hasmonean. Did they ever really believe that a woman could gain the respect of the Hasmoneans? And did she really believe that noone could see her put on her sheitel as she drove into the school and remove it as she drove off again?

    Alas, so many memories, so little time.

    Regards to one and all!

  270. Henry Conway,

    Are you writing under a pseudonym? My apologies for not remembering you if you’re not but I can only remember Conways Jeremy & Robert in our year. Describe yourself.

    I remember the rowing boats now, I think the place was somewhere near Welwyn, not that it’s important. I seem to recall that Captain Neufeld had a crew of four on his merry vessel when it went down and despite the murky water being only knee-deep they all somehow managed to get drenched from head to toe. The staff at the boating lake were obviously used to their boats capsizing and had clearly raided the local charity shops in anticipation of such events for they provided the hardy mariners with a change of clothes. The finale of an eventful day was the spectacle of a group of frummers going home dressed as scarecrows replete with dusters and oversized trench coats.

    I remember the incident with the Australian teacher well. Her name was Miss/Ms/Mrs Palmer (most likely Ms as she was a bit of a battleaxe). I’m still haunted by it today. It was a really cruel thing to do, but I don’t think I’d given much forethought thought to the likely consequences at the time. Chichios walked in just after she did and couldn’t resist the opportunity to exert some authority (something he perpetually craved) whilst simultaneously playing the chivalrous knight to a not very attractive lady. He decided there and then to get to the bottom of who was responsible (forgive the pun) by making the entire class forego every subsequent break-time thereafter and queue up outside his office for individual cross-questioning. It was probably more out of resentment for the greasy f*cker than any loyalty to me that only two boys out of thirty-odd cracked. I’m quite sure that a particular boy (let’s call him “D”) was not one of them, though his mum had grassed me up for other things prior to this, causing me to bully him relentlessly throughout my time at the school – something else I have on my conscience. I saw the guy in shul several years later and he’d grown much taller than me. I was truly humbled by the guy’s magnanimous attitude – had he decked me there and then, I don’t think I would have had much cause for complaint but incredibly he was actually very genial and chatty.

  271. Funny noone has mentioned Mr Beddall – the wacko art teacher or Mr (Bean) Shackman the nerdy IT teacher.

    Other eccentrics from later yrs must also include Mrs Pottage, the bumbling clueless Latin teacher, Mrs. (‘Don’t you pay any more’) Moore, the Modern Hebrew dictator(ess), Mr Stefanicki, he of the eclectic bow tie collection there were so many, hard to put them all into print.

    I will however share a story about one of my all time favourite’s Stevey P – otherwise known as Herr Posen. I recall vividly how he used to vilify and castigate me in Biology classes for having no talent and frequently threw his board rubbers, test tubes and any other nearby objects in my direction before eventually slinging me out of the class. Before my GCSE’s he called my parents in and told them in no uncertain terms that I would fail (he predicted me a U) as I had no grasp of the subject and was disruptive in class. Naturally my parents were very concerned and started talking to me about private tuition until I explained how loopy Steve was and they calmed down significantly when I showed them a photo of him in the ever infamous Rosh Chodesh shirt! Sure enough I got an A!

    For some absurd reason, I decided that I needed Biology A Level to pursue my career and Steve actively tried to discourage me, saying that I would never be able to understand the concepts involved at A Level – It would just be above me; but despite his protests, I persevered.

    When it came to predictions for Uni, he was very hush hush about what he was giving, but made no secret at any point of how weak he felt I was in the subject and naturally I did not get the places I applied for! A week before my exams he told me that I might as well not bother sitting them as I was sure to fail and you’ll never guess what……

    ……an A again!!! He must have felt so shocked that he awarded me the Biology prize!

    I then decided to study Biology at Uni (not because of, more in spite of his continued lack of confidence in my abilities.

    As you can imagine, I made sure to go and see him after I had left school to see what he thought about this and he told me “I think you will really struggle, are you sure it’s a good idea?”.

    I left his room with a smile on my face, as of course this is what I had hoped to hear – and completed my degree with a 2:1!

    What a loon! G-d bless him though. I don’t think I would have been nearly as determined to succeed if not for his unique ‘motivational’ style.

  272. Mike,

    I’m puzzled. Sometimes I’m quite brutal about people on here and it seems to go unnoticed. Other times I’ll say something far less controversial and the post gets edited. Please clarify.

    Also do you have an e-mail I can contact you on?

  273. Hi Terry,

    I understand your puzzlement! It is just my instinctive judgement call . . .

    Referring to someone as a “dyke”, if she is not, would be libellous. And I also felt it unnecessary to mention a boy’s name in relation to bullying, if he – perhaps now with wife and kids – might not want to be reminded of it 20 years on, and/or it might embarass him. The point of your story, however, was unaffected. I have similarly deleted references, by others, identifying boys with emotional problems.

    Hope you will understand. (Email sent separately.)


  274. Hi Terry,

    Now that you say it, I remember one other “swimmer” in that frum boat on lag bo’emer. He was probably the cause of the capsize being somewhat overweight. He was called Spitzer (cant remember his first name). Wow I wonder where all our class are now.

    Thanks Mike for removing those names, you are 100% right. Actually that particular boy who you, Terry, terrorized for his Mum’s grassing (I wont say his name again), at one point cracked from the pressure and begged his Mum to let him change schools. She squeezed out of him the reason and she promptly complained to Roberg that the class were bullying her darling D. I think we were in the 4th year at the time and the whole class was called in for a anti-bullying speech from Roberg. Well we snickered our way through it but I think it did help somewhat. Didn’t he have a younger brother who was actually dead popular?

    I have bumped in to some of the frummies over the years including Avi Greenman who is, as you said, one of the rare humans amongst the pupils of Hasmo and they all agreed that the elitist attitude of the Yids so encouraged by DJ, Roberg and others was disgusting and they regret falling into it. In fact one guy told me that he told DJ to his face (whilst in school) that he can understand why so many kids drop out of Judaism from Hasmo if he, DJ, is supposed to be an example. DJ fumed, fuffed and barked but couldn’t answer him.

  275. Terry, one thing I must add is that Yids + Yoks alike, we were a very united class and the cases of snitching were extremely rare. Generally the whole class were prepared to accept punishments rather than sneak. I think the rowing boat lag bo’omer was the first and last trip we made as a class since we were always punished for bad behaviour from then on and were banned from the outings.

    Wishing you, Terry, and all our class (1BK….) all the best!

  276. The laws regarding not snitching appear to have been ingrained in us far deeper then we think. My brother in law, (now a father of four) was having difficulties with one of his children being bullied in primary school and duly went to the the school to complain. When the headteacher asked him who had been acrrying out the said bullying, he looked at her straight faced and said, “first rule of Hasmo, you don’t snitch”. I think she is still wondering what the hell was he talking about to this day.

  277. Someone mentioned Avi Greenman, who is my wifes first cousin, and I can confirm he is truly is someone you can look up to. I remember one time we were on I believe one of DJ’s famous walking tours, (I think the year before Braude went on the roof of the minibus), and we decided to sit opposite each other at the back of the bus and see who could push the other person the hardest. Unfortunately, neither of us were willing to give in, but the Ford Transit did and consequently had two large bulges at the side. Sorry Chich.

  278. Terry, Sorry I forgot to answer that point before.

    One of the strange things about Hasmo is that we sometimes got called names that were not our real ones. I remember “Norman” Smith who was always previously called Menachem and is so called today too. Just in Hasmo he was called Norman. Well in Hasmo I was called Jeremy but now I have returned to Henry.

  279. Benjy Broder – You beat me to the story on why Eliott Nussbaum was called Stuart. But does everyone remember sitting in those classes that backed on to the dinner hall. Kids used to constantly bang on them, and when Woody went out, we would all begin yelling “Stuart”
    Johnny F – I was one of those who drove in with David on our last day. I think there were six or eight of us, but cannot remember who else. I do rememebr two things. One, David had a spare set of keys and when the gates where opened for the teachers, managed to escape. I beleive he was called at home and told to have the car back in school before shabbos, or he could take his a levels somewhere else. Second, there was someone who was doing upper sixth for the second time in the group, and when Roberg (I think) was asking what we were thinking, this person replied “it’s our last day, sir” to whcih roberg replied “yes, I know you’ve been here a year longer than anyone else”.

  280. I remember G.J. Jurke ! He was a gym teacher of the old school, hard as a slap in the face from Fred Zartz . Jurke was a German refugee ( I suspect an ex-communist or Bundist ) with a wonderful store of anecdotes about brawling with the Brownshirts in pre war Deutschland. He always insisted that we played on, no matter how horrific the injuries we sustained on the football field. I happened to be near to a certain Steve Brenman (where is he now?) and actually heard his leg snap like a twig after an Ian Ure- style late tackle administered by Mike Skovron(I think). Jurke waved play on, and Steve did, True Brit and True Grit that by he was. Not like the namby pamby pansies of today.
    I also recall that during football practice I got kicked hard in the goolies by Ralph Last. Jurke’s advice to “Go to Ze Zide Off Der Bitch Unt Bass Voorter” has been of inestimable value over the years, especially after a (nowadays all too rare) weekend of depraved debauchery and drunkeness. Thank you Mr. Jurke, wherever you are.

  281. Daniel Bentley

    I remember Mr Jurke too. From long long ago. I am from an earlier, 60’s, generation. Mr (never knew his first name) Jurke used to bounce the of miscreants off his biceps. I rember it had a dizzying effect. He had been close to being on the German 1936 olympic team, went the rumour but was excluded for the unsurprising reason. He retired to Australia and that is the last I heard.

    Someone mentioned “Sid” – Was that “Sid” Beilin? He was much ridiculed as a supposed am-ho’oretz. But with his strange attire, old tie-less zip-up silk shirts and rumpled jacket he was i have worked out one of the best most meticulous French teachers around. His attention to accent and spelling and grammar meant that I who had been pathetic enough as a beginner had learned enough by A-levels to stand me in good stead 25 years later when I had to take proficiency exams in French for the Canadian public service and gave me a boost I still benefit from. I still feel bad about the way we treated him.

    He once cme into our a-level class, held in an old nook in some dilapidated tower reached I seem to remember by something that seemed like a catwalk over an abyss, dribbling banana. Martin Kohn, who hadnt yet encountered adolescent rebellion and was reading his way through the tanach as a hobby – well it just ignited a fit of giggles for which he was thrown out and which lasted till we saw him again an hour or so later.

    The teachers in my day wre Mr Elman. the wagnerian Mr Grossman, Sid, “Curly” the dryest history teacher, Sidney Greenbaum, Richard Grunfeld, Albert Meyer the music and German teacher, Mr Frank the latin teacher,Mr Reich (who taught meikro-economics the 1st 6th form year and meikro-economics (which was the opposite) the 2nd 6th form year (and who later became a well-known psychologist) Mr Lewis, a reformed ex-baptist minister and ex-communist also called something Lewis , John Denham – opened an art gallery – Jo Munk – the only decent JS teacher I had. That was in the 60’s. The reactionary alignment – Gerber, DJ were already ascendent – and yes they made us sing “lihiot am kodaush” too

    We also got up to stuff but it has all faded. I only remember being suspended once for not wearing my school cap on the way home when i was about 17.

    If someone reminds me maybe I can remember more.

  282. Daniel Bentley

    PS – whom are you referring to Mike who lived on Princes Park avenue? I lived on Princes Park avenue – who else? Gerald Cromer did too – he sadly died recently in Israel (his obit was in Ha-aretz); my contemporary asley Grossman lived a few streets over at one point, who else? but thart was the 6o’s.

  283. Daniel Bentley


    What is happening in GB. The news i read here (Canada, Ottawa) sounds like darkest Europe in the 30’s. Is it as bad as that – and how widespread?

  284. Do Hasmo 5th years still collect ‘toilet money from unsuspecting 1st years still? Is the sand pit still in existence? Anyone for a cross country around Copthall? – Happy Days!

  285. David Lerer

    Jeremy Conway’s name is really “Henry”? How about that. Presumably you felt that there was no longer any point in masquerading as the head of the London Beis Din Kashrut Division.

    As regards Norman Smith – Norman was quite definitely his real (English) name, and continues to be – and there are still alot of people who call him that (although it is quite true that many call him by his Jewish name).

  286. Hmmm..

    Henry/Jeremy Conway also claims above to have been in my form in the 1st year (1BK) when I know for a fact that he (Jeremy Conway) wasn’t.

    So, ‘Henry Conway’ and ‘The Truth’ what are are you hiding? Stop playing silly beggars and reveal yourselves.

  287. Jack Buechler

    I remember Chisios warning that if anyone laughed at Rabbi Schonfeld and he caught them he would wack them. Funny as no other jewish teacher saw the point.

    Of course R. Schonfeld was a truly great man, however when he spoke to the school he was somewhat older, and slorred his speech – we all laughed a lot.

    True to his words he said the girls and boys scholl will never join together.

    Lastly – who remembers the channukah service – when the girls left at the end – and the boys had to wait 20 minutes so that there was absolutely 0 chance of seeing them.

    No wonder everyone volunteered for the choir where you could get a better view of the proceedings.

  288. Jack Buechler

    Compare and contrast learning a foreign language today and back in the 70’s at Hasmo….

    So being a grammar school we learned language out of a book. My German teacher was Mr. Meyer. Nothing wrong with that – as he was German and therefore well qualified in the language.

    So the German tourist board sends us 30 copies of something like ‘Life in Germany’. For the pupils to see what life is like in gemrany , culture etc.

    Mr. M. opens the package in front of the class and pronounces ” Look at what these Roshers ( evil people) have sent us”. With that he orders Baran to open the window. Bearing in (mind we are on the second floor) he then throws the whole lot of the window.

    He then carries on as per normal.

  289. Jack,

    Our German teacher, in the early 80s, was “Herr” Dr. Fried, a rather weird gentleman (a survivor I think), who – if someone had farted – would ask “Who made that air?”

    He once told my mother at parents evening that I had “funny eyes” . . . by which I think he meant that I was a right bastard!


  290. Daniel Marks

    Anybody with information or anecdotes about Woodthorpe Harrison. please send them to:


  291. Yitzchak Landau

    Terry – re. the “Henry Conway” mystery, I happened to see Jeremy at a Barmitzvah this week and can confirm that he is most definitely NOT Henry – in fact he didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked him about it!

    Hope all is well with you – I have enjoyed reading your comments over the past few weeks, more in wonder at how you learnt to write so well – it certainly wasn’t at Hasmo!

  292. Yitzchak,

    Thanks for your kind words. Creative writing was the only thing I ever excelled at, or indeed enjoyed during my time at Hasmo and you’re right, it is something more visceral than learnt.

    I think I remember you despite the fact that we probably didn‘t have a lot to do with one another. You were short with dark hair and would have been in 1RG when we joined the school. You see, aside from my ability to write, I have just one other faculty of which I am proud, and that is my memory. That is why I wasn’t taken in by Henry’s nom de plume for one second. Certain comments of his are quite telling and I am fairly sure that he is one of two people, and one of them never was very good at owning up to things.

    What’s up ‘Henry’? Cat got your tongue?

  293. Terry . . . you should have written that it is because you, like me, hail from the land of Joyce, Wilde, Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney!

  294. How true! Joyce was from Rathgar which of course is somewhere both our Dads would have known well.

  295. Yitzchak Landau

    Hi Terry – pretty accurate description, tho’ that would probably have done for about half the school! I actually started off in 1BK and for some reason which I can’t remember clearly now, I transferred to 1RG after a few weeks. I suspect it was to do with having one or two more close friends from primary school in 1RG but then again I had good friends in 1BK too, so who knows.

    Like you, I suspected that Mr Conway was not Jeremy as it was just not his style, unless his literary persona is different to his public one, so I was pleased to be able to clear that up.

    I was privileged to witness one of your “fights” with Roger in year 1 which took place at the doors leading to the external stair case near our form rooms (Nos. 9-12?). I think he had provoked you by calling you something first, but I was quite in awe at the time!

  296. Yitzchak,

    I remember that. It was the second of three occasions that I fought back against him (for the first and third see Hasmo Legends I). He was escorting me to Roberg and thought I was dragging my heels so decided to assault me. I pushed him back against a clothes peg and could see him grimace as it dug into his back. I remember it like it was yesterday.

  297. Anthony Mammon

    BRILLIANT, and perfect to a tee. You’ve really summed up Hasmo and I had a great laugh reading all your blogs. I left Hasmo in 77, but I can see it never changes

  298. Sorry to hear that Animal Farm was banned by the ‘mob’. Especially as I got an A+ for writing an essay on the book when I was in the 1st form – the last A+ I ever received – all downhill from there I’m afraid.

    Mind you, they should have banned various parts of the Mishna using the same principal. I remember Rabbi Angel once having to talk about what he called ‘fornication’ in Mishna class. The way he said the word gave it more innuendo than he could have imagined. Still makes me chuckle when I hear that word.

  299. I have been asked to post the following, by an ex-Hasmo boy who (for good reasons) wishes to remain anonymous:

    Regarding the treatment of “ethnic minorities”, I wonder whether any Sephardim recall the blatant racism of some of the teachers? There was Roger (was that really his name?) Gothold who referred to Sephardim as “the second plague” (a supposedly intelligent pun on “Sephardea” – frogs).

    I even recall dear Jack O. making snide comments, and marking an Iranian refugees paper down, for the hieroglyphics he had scribbled in the margins.

    Interesting to note that almost a third of the school were Sephardi, and yet I believe it took almost 40 years till there was a Sephardi headboy!

    Best wishes.

  300. Wow, things did change after my day (late 60’s to mid 70’s). I was never aware of any anti-Sephardi bias during my time. The only real problem we had was the ultra-frum mafia taking over from the early 70’s. Even Willy was being overridden by certain teachers by that time.

    If it’s true, then I’m truly sorry to hear that this happened.

  301. Mike

    With reference to your shy, anonymous Sephardi, most of the blatant racist remarks that I received at school were from fellow pupils rather than the teachers (as I wrote in an earlier posting). The sudden affectation of a South Indian accent by the boys in my year, at the mere mention of Mr. “Jolly Good” Benjamin is a case in point. (Maybe Shimon Soester can enlighten us and reveal that in fact, other members of staff referred to him in the same way!)
    As far as the teachers were concerned, I can only remember one teacher giggling at his own stupid joke about an Ethiopian Rabbi, who came from Israel to talk at the school. This teacher went around telling all who would listen that the visitor in question had hilariously received his Semichah from a ‘black’ Yeshiva.
    I also remember one special assembly for Sephardim, where Rabbi Abraham Levy came to give a talk to Sephardi pupils; which, if anything, shows that the school actually tried to make an effort in some way.
    In my opinion, Hasmonean was too dysfunctional at the most basic levels for there to have been institutionalized racism. Very few teachers possessed the imagination to be cruelly racist towards Sephardim. Any real or zealous malice was directed towards irreligious pupils, Zionism and Gentiles rather than Sephardim.

  302. avrom cutler

    This ones for terry, do you remember, we were having a game of “yes, no, black and white” on a sunday morning, the tension in the class was unbearable. It was down to the last two boys you and someone else. The rebbe, I forget who, slowly stroked his beard, looked you in the eye and said “was it you i saw smoking in hendon park last week?” You fell for the bait and said “Nooo.” Then realised what had happened, and ran from the class swearing. I remember feeling really sorry for you, and that the Rabbi was below the belt. Also you once got me to nick a cigarette from the caretaker for you, well I was scared of you so I did it.

  303. Avrom,

    Good to hear from you.

    Yes I remember that lesson. It would have been in Mr Lesser’s form room and the teacher was called Mr Bude. He was a young guy who only taught on Sunday mornings on a temporary basis. He was one of the few teachers at Hasmo that was capable of motivating me and I seem to remember actually enjoying his class. When I walked out the focus of my anger was actually Gothold who I just presumed had badmouthed me to him. The following lesson we were making tzitzit with Gothold where I took revenge for this (possibly imagined) slight. What happened next is described in my very first post on this blog (see Hasmo Legends I)

    I don’t remember getting you to procure cigarettes for me though I’ve no doubt it happened.

    Hope you’re well. I gather that you’re a Rebbe yourself now?

  304. great blog – so many things i’d forgotten!!

    I do remember the the whole anti-zionist thing.

    Anyone recall how they tried to stop us bringing in flags into the assembly when Natan Sharansky came to speak. Needless to say dozens were smuggled in, to which Sharansky said something like “I see the Israeli flags all the time”. I cant remember his exact words but i do remember that comment getting a huge cheer.

    I also remember them trying to stop us signing Hatikvah at one of the prize days (maybe 83). We sung its anyway, and Rabbi Rabinowicz was standing on his chair on the stage singing at the top of his voice and conducting. I never liked him until that moment.

  305. Antony Grossman ('82)


    the story you refer to with the russian dissident was the probably the moment that we all realised if we did not before that we were at a madhouse

    I cant recall the name of the dissident but I dont think it was Sharansky

    it was I think late 1981 and we were all standing up on the 6th form gallery when the speaker stood up with our israeli flags neatly hidden on the floor

    the first thing that the speaker said to the amazement of all of us was that the only thing that kept him going in the gulag was the ‘degel shell yisroel’ at which point the flags were ceremoniously unwound and waved from the balcony

    Rabbi Roburg immediately told us to put them away to which the speaker just continued to talk about the flag and then all mayhem broke out

    the sixth formers ran down the back stair case onto the stage and started dancing round the room with the refusenik lifted on shoulders- Roberg was waving his hands as were one or two of the other anti zionist teachers remonstrating with everyone to stop but noone paid any attention – they could see many of the other teachers simply ignoring Roberg on the basis that they could not in their conscious stop such joy (I remember in particular Dr Finkelstein standing motionless and wishing that he could have joined in).

    It took about ten minutes before calm was restored and the speech continued. It was reported in the JC and I think as a result of the likely publicity nothing happened to the boys which effectively emboldened them for the hatikvah story which you tell and which probably happened a year or so later.


    ps it would be great if everyone wrote what year they left the school so people know roughly when the events referred to took place

  306. Antony,

    It was Yosef Mendelevitch and I remember the event well.

    Claude (left 1985)

  307. Jaicky Tammam

    I remember the Mendelevitch event well. Does anyone remember driving to the Girls school on Yom Hatzmaut in 81 or 82 with Israeli flags and the entire girls school coming out to the parking lot. I think we were asked to write a letter of apology to the governers for that one.

  308. I also don’t remember much Ashkenazi/Sefardi friction, just the Yok/Yid and Zionist/anti-Zionist splits!

  309. David Silver

    I clearly remember DJ teling us how “primitive” the sephardi children were and recalling how he caught two of “them” fighting by head-butting -which was supposed to be proof of his contention.
    We just saw it as proof of his racism – though we wouldn’t have called it that at the time.

  310. In my day the Sephardi boys were known as the the Stamford Hill Pakis. Fairly insulting, but not quite as bad as DJ calling me a Hitler Youth as i had shoulder length hair.
    What a ridiculous school!!!

  311. With reference to Adam Topol’s post;
    Is this the same, Sven Hassel – loving, member of Her Majesty’s Territorial Army?

  312. Deborah Moher

    I cannot comment for the boys school, but the girls school was embarrasingly incompetant. See -i probably have a million spelling mistakes in this. Their attempts at rearing nice jewish girls failed misrably. I can collect a plethora of inappropriate incidents of my “school experience”from hundreds of girls. (and boys). Its quite amusing to read, but this school is still open, and is still a total embarrasment for british jewry.

  313. Jonathan Wasserberg

    The eating treif out of school story brought back some vivid recollections for me. I had bunked off early one day and decided I’d rather get the bus to Golders Green than have to stand in that mad scrum at the top bus stop for the 221 to North Finchley. The risk of being crushed to death was only slightly higher than being punched or kicked to death by a sixth former at the bottom bus stop who had sole access and first dibs at getting the bus. Another time I’ll tell you about that!
    Anyway it was Pesach, I had consumed a latke from Blooms and was now happily tucking into a tube of Rolo’s. Bad, bad move! For those of you not in posession of a Kasher le Pesach manual for 1974, Rolo’s were NOT on the list! Mars bars (slight shrug of the shoulders…yes, Flake, tilt of the head, yes BUT Rolo’s ? finger wagging at you, firm shake of the head, definetely not.
    It was only a matter of time therefore before a teacher, wending his way home, happened upon me and slowed, then stopped, looking me up and down. I can remeber him taking in the scene. In uniform, no kapel, eating a Rolo, I clearly fitted the profile of a …..YOK!
    Vot r u doing? My teeth were firmly stuck together and I was holding my rolo packet which was rapidly transmogrifying into a holy cross as I looked at it. Sir? Vot r u eating? Wolo sir. Don’t u now wolos are treif? Noo sor.Vot is ur nam? Still chewing, it takes ages to get through a rolo as you know and you can’t swallow them whole. Wasserberg sir. And do ur parrents know about zis? I was rapidly descending to gehinna where many earlier Rolo enthusiasts must have gone before me. zrow zem avay! What? Zrow zem avay! I’d only had one but had to chuck them in a bin!
    The tragedy of all this is that I had actually been sad enough to have pored over the kosher manual but could make no sense of it. Blue smarties good, red smarties bad, breakaway biscuits good if manufactured before nov 73, penguin bars yes, kit kat no and so on so i meant well but still came a cropper.
    Today is my 49th birthday and it is Pesach again. Now, to borrow a phrase, I am a free man. If I want a Rolo I can have one without fear of arrest or public humiliation and I think if my mum finds out, she will, as she did in 1974, let me off this once! Keep the blog rolling Mike. Coming up next…… a real goy walks through the chemistry lab!

  314. Jon Fishman

    Jonathan Wasswerberg – I think you will find that the school would of been closed during Pesach, so why you were standing in school uniform eating “kosher for passover” Rolo’s is anyones guess.
    Also, the 221 goes nowhere near Blooms, which in those days was unlikely to be open during Pesach,so, did the latka arrive in a taxi?
    Sounds as likely a story, as the one DJ used to tell everyone about the frummer who got on the plane to Israel, but found himself on the wrong plane and was heading to India, Saudi etc. But, through praying hard on the journey, the plane landed in Israel , and in time for Shabbat.

  315. Jonathan wasserberg

    Jon F,

    These stories grow not old, unlike those that remember them and indeed I may have got my bus routes wrong.( Actually I got the bus to golders green and then the 13 to north finchley after having my latke, and the Rolo episode may have been a day or two before Pesach, happy now?)
    However they are gems of meshigas which deserve to be told.
    The yid/yok split was one of the most important cultural undercurrents at Hasmo and influenced all of our thinking. As a yiddi kind of yok I struggled to find a niche, frowned upon by yid and yok alike. A proper yok would have smoked and grown his hair, a proper yid would have cut his hair and used a hair clip on his kapel. A proper yid would have davened and not counted to 100 under his breath and a proper yok would not have pretended for 8 years that he could read rashi, he would have just bunked JS. Any other yiddi yoks out there?

  316. Happy birthday, Jonathan, and super story . . . even if the passage of time may have blurred the detail somewhat! It’s lucky the teacher hadn’t spotted you eating the Bloom’s latke before that Rolo . . . I seem to recall there being some prohibition on eating milk after meat in our strange religion!

    Conversely to you, Jonathan, I was more of a yokky kind of yid . . . the product of a sceptic Litvak father and Chassidic Galician mother (for my analysis of such ‘mixed’ marriages, see Hasmo Legends V!)

    I have just returned from an afternoon with the brothers Kenley, who are in Tel Aviv for Pesach. Alan was in my year, Simon a couple of years below, and Jeremy a couple more still. We discussed the blog (I can’t seem to escape the subject these days), and much hilarity ensued.

    Alan related how, on one occasion (there were probably numerous such), on being sent to the Headmaster for a caning, Rabbi Roberg asked him to “find a stick” (only at Hasmo!) Alan, of course, returned from the playground with a log, and felt the back of Roberg’s hand. Anyway, Kenleys, get commenting . . .

    Happy Pesach, one and all!


  317. Steve Graniewitz

    Apart from the discrepancies that Jon Fishman mentioned, blue smarties were only introduced in 1988.

  318. Daniel Bentley

    I note that pretty well everyone here must have left Hasmonean at the end of the 70″s at the earliest. Is there anyone out there even older – pushing 60 like me?

    By the way, “Flop” was a contemporary of mine . He was a pleasant guy but had to endure quite a bit of ragging at the hand of his contemporaries.I saw him briefly once in Israel at a hotel in Netanya about 4 or 5 years ago over Sukkot. He was already retired.

  319. Daniel, “Flop” is still teaching full-time at Hasmo.

  320. Daniel Bentley

    Hang on , “Flop” is Lionel Finkelstein, right?

  321. to Daniel Bentley

    I’m 6 years short of 60, so I was at Hasmo from 66 to 72. Actually they were great years, not only for Hasmo inmates but for England too; things seemed to loosen up a lot month by month. Plenty of good weed, Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, the permissive society, questioning of values, Dylan, Grateful Dead ,White Album, Zappa, Raleigh Close Shul Choir, Manu won the European Cup when the players still cared about football, cricket wasn’t the farce it later became and Israel was a cool place to hang out in the summer.As a backdrop to all of this we had our looney masters, who were decent enough chaps by and large, and pretty turned on cool cats too; who can forget Parnell’s home-made bongs (you don’t really believe that he was only smoking tobacco in those contraptions do you), or Mitch Taylor’s hand rolled mother nature’s own (surely they were). ‘Pity Hasmo, Rock music, England,Football, Cricket, Israel , quality of pot and just about everything else went right down the drain later, but that’s another story.

    Happy Pesach

    Joe Wyse

  322. John Fishman & Jonathan Wasserberg, with regards to which bus stops outside of Blooms, I suggest you consult with Hasmo’s own London Transport guru Norman Kahler on these matters. Wasn’t there also another crazy kosher rule that Kit Kat’s were kosher in Manchester but not in London? Terry Maslin last time I saw you, we were selling double glazing door-to-door for Highlight Windows in Finchley…sorry I got you the sack (probably did you a favour!)

  323. Highlight Windows? Blimey! that’s going back a bit. From what I remember I lasted all of two weeks there during which time I didn’t get a single lead. I had no interest in knocking on peoples doors and when the guy would drop us off to go canvassing my friend and I would make our way to that favoured haunt of Hasmo teachers, The Mill, for a couple of hours and then reappear again when he came to pick us up.
    How did you get me sacked? I’m not sure I even remember you working there.

    BTW do you remember the Clive Fierstone ‘irreversible brain damage’ incident?

  324. Hi Terry (Hasmo’s very own Tucker Jenkins)

    I didn’t last there much longer than that , maybe by an extra few days. I just remember us laughing about it afterwards, and how I was responsible for your career change, not sure what I actually did though. It was a far cry from your original plans to be a High Court Judge though, as I remember you said that “all you had to do was sit there at a desk and look mildly interested”.

    What was this Clive Fierstone ‘irreversible brain damage’ incident? It might explain the reason, why I am as I am…

    BTW Terry it was you who introduced me to smoking at lunchtimes behind the gym, it only took me 22 years to quit. By today’s prices it cost me over £40,000 in fags, if you like I’ll give you my address so you can post me a cheque plus interest, of course.

  325. Paul,

    Funny you should mention Tucker Jenkins, as that bloody programme was actually the inspiration for a good deal of my retarded activities back in the day.

    The ‘irreversible brain damage’ incident involved yourself and was the subject of one of my posts on Hasmo Legends I dated 15th Feb. Please look it up and let me know if it rings any bells.

    As for the bill for your smoking habit, you’ll have to send it to Jonathan Murgraff as it has he who introduced me to the evil weed at the tender age of 10! Unlike you I managed to give up at 22.

  326. Hilarious! I remember it very well, and it still counts today as one of my best stories about Hasmo. I think I had to see Rabbi Roberg for that. If I’m correct Andrew Cohen was there also, but he ran off. We ended up in the playground as we got kicked out of class for making gob balls (regurgitated bits of paper) and flobbing them at the white board.

    For those reading this who want to know more, here’s what happened according to Terry “On one such occasion I found an apple and threw it through the open window of room 12 where Clive Fierstone was taking a class, before slipping away down the tunnel by the gym changing rooms leaving an affable chap named Paul Keene, who was minding his own business and completely oblivious to what I‘d just done, alone in the playground. The apple hit Ari Cohen square on the back of the head and on hearing the nearby commotion, Paul looked up in the direction of the classroom at the exact moment CF, never one to understate things, appeared at the window bellowing “You boy! You have just given someone irreversible brain damage!”

    I bumped into Ari recently and we spent a while reminiscing. Thankfully, I couldn’t see any evidence to support the above statement. “

  327. Andrew Cohen

    I never ran off!!!

    You are casting aspersions in my character!!!!

    I probably ran to the payphone and called my father as he was chariman of the PTA .

    I remeber Daniel Cuby putting some pins on your chair in Jonny Bokor’s class. When you sat down, you leapt up in the air.

    I use to love CF’s jokes. One was “What brocha did the baker say in the story of Joseph (the one with the dream) – Answer Hamotze lechem min h’aretz!!

    Seemed funnier at the time!

  328. Robert Amery

    Great blog, just caught wind of it yesterday and have not stopped reading it since. HASMO on tour in the holy land was for me the best and the tormentor “Rabbi Gold” was unforgettable, as were the water fights (even with boiling hot water) and the broken windows etc…
    I bumped into Rabbi Gold a few years back and he pretended to not recognize me, but I saw by the way his eyes twitched that we were also unforgettable.
    Thanks again for this great blog.

  329. Yello Goller


    Just wanted to thank you for telling it like it is. For this article to be published for others to see has given me hope.

  330. Neil Greenbaum

    There is one story precisely about the bizarre religious tensions in Hasmonean that I have deliberated about sharing for some time as it involved a teacher who is no longer alive…but I’ll tell it anyway.

    In the third year I was in the A2 for Jewish Studies. This group was normally a mixture of Hareidi and Bnei Akiva boys. For yeshiva stream we were teamed up together with the A1 all-blacks. To kick the year off Rabbi Kahan went round the class and asked each boy to give the following two pieces of information: Which shul he attended and whether or not he had a television in his house. Many of the Hareidi boys made excuses about having televisions “only for the au pairs” or other such feeble justifications (as if one needs to justify having a TV in the house). However, as it turned out one corner of room was taken up by 6 boys from United Synagogue backgrounds. Rabbi Kahan obviously paid great attention to the answers of the boys as for the entire term he had a system for giving turns for the boys to read – he always went in the same order around Room 13, but skipped the US boys every time.

    At the beginning, my parents did not believe my brother and myself that this was actually true and was reasonably possible. After the full term of not being asked to read and a lot of persuasion my parents pulled me out of Yeshiva Stream. It was the single most negative experience to my interest in Jewish learning (I count myself fortunate to have had experiences since that more than balance this unhelpful one).

  331. Simon Finn

    I have not written on the blog for a while, but feel its getting to a stage where rather then happily telling about the fun and madness that some of us experienced at Hasmo, people are now airing their grievances about the school and teachers, some of whom are no longer around to defend themselves.
    I went through Hasmo with as far as I am aware, no teacher taking a personal dislike to me, and have only really found out through reading this blog, how some of the non frum boys were badly picked on and unfortunately pushed further away from religion. Thankfully I believe that the teachers that are now chosen to teach at Hasmonean are professional and care about their pupils, resulting in Hasmonean continuing to grow, whereas other schools are struggling.
    Every ex-Hasmonean loves to tell over stories that happened to them at Hasmo, but shouldn’t this blog be exactly about that, telling over the fun and happy times rather then slagging off teachers, who although might not have behaved correctly, do not deserve to have their names dragged through the mud.

  332. Simon Finn

    I had to attend a stone setting yesterday afternoon in Har Manuchos in Jerusalem for the father of a friend of mine who died a month ago. The format is to say tehillim that spell out the deceased name. When it got to the letter “Nun” it was great to see a number of eyes light up and people nod their heads as the chosen letter resulted in “Ner Leragli Devorecha”, a sad time was turned that much sweater.

  333. Joey Garfinkel

    I find Neil’s recollection disturbing, even distressing. I agree that Mike’s blog shouldn’t just be about settling personal vendettas but it can be a place where some poignant questions are asked from the perspective of a couple of decades ago. I also don’t believe the name of the teacher is critical. What is important however is that lessons be learned and addressed by the powers that be today.

    I recall one particular story (names are left out to protect identities) – I returned to join the lower sixth half way through the year after being away. I was faced with a choice between joining the yeshiva or non-yeshiva stream. As a means of persuasion I expected to hear something about “The best suited level of learning, etc” but was instead told: “Look at the boys in the non-yeshiva stream class: name 1, name 2, name 3 (I kid you not) . . . do you really want to be with them?” Now all three were fully decent human beings (at least back then) and 3 in particular later became an extremely religious mensch.

    I saw a promotional video on present-day Hasmo’s website which appears to give reason for optimism. A JS teacher describes how, in the first term, all pupils are lumped together and only afterwards separated in streams based on appropriate individual level. Here’s hoping that this is not mere marketing!

  334. Simon,

    melchett mike, like Seinfeld, shouldn’t be “exactly about” anything . . other than what my posts, and the comments thereto, make it.

    Some might only want to comment on the “fun and madness” (as you refer to it), others might wish to bring up rather more serious issues, while still others – including me – might enjoy discussing both. Other than libelling people (with untruths), everything goes here!

    If some tyrants spent their entire, pathetic working lives victimising young boys and teenagers – though I am not suggesting that the majority of Hasmo teachers did – why shouldn’t their victims at least now be allowed to “air their grievances”?

    And, as for your not having had trouble with any of the teachers, coming from an established Munks-attending NW11 family, you merely prove the point made by Joey and Neil (who surely meant “colour avoydoh zoroh” when he referred to “television”?!)

  335. Jerry Gerber sat in as spare teacher once when the proper one wasn’t about. I didn’t know him then as he’d never taught me in anything before.

    He couldn’t teach the subject and had to fill the time somehow.

    He asked me if I was in the Yeshiva Stream and on my negative response made me pick up all the litter on the floor in front of the whole class.

    Didn’t do much for my respect for him, the religion or the Hasmonean institution.

    Uri (Proud Atheist)

  336. He probably thought that that was the job you would eventually be doing anyway, Uri, if you weren’t in Yeshiva Stream.

    Lovely bloke.

  337. Mike, the comment about all the ethnic differences is very true, in England, it was either Jewish or not, where as soon as I came here, especially as dating became more important, it suddenly seemed to be much more of a big deal!!
    Sad really, we have a tendency to blame the whole world for anti semitism all the time over the slightest thing, they should hear the way Jews speak about each others ethnic differences in this country…
    Having said that, my wife is of Iraqi origin…and quite a few of them are f-ing nuts!!!:)

  338. Samir S. Halabi

    I went to the Hasmonean primary school in 1951. I enjoyed all my time there.
    There was a really wonderful homely atmosphere in that school, I felt that I was in Israel. In 1956 we left the UK for Geneva, Switzerland. We returned to the UK in 1970. We never associated much with British jews as we didn’t have much in common
    socially, are friends in the UK were mostly from the jewish communities of the arab world like us.

  339. I had dinner, yesterday evening, at a friend’s in Jerusalem.

    He went to UCS, but to my surprise – when the subject of melchett mike came up – he mentioned DJ. My friend’s father had sent him to the Hager’s cheder about 45-odd years ago, to instil a bit more ‘yiddishkeit’ in him. He hated every minute . . . not least because of DJ’s presence on the staff.

    Now an extremely successful educator himself, my friend commented:

    “DJ was the only teacher I ever had who used routine humiliation as a standard educational tool.”

    I thought that really summed it up . . . and from a non-Hasmo.

  340. Why don’t you ungrateful whingers leave DJ alone? I can honestly say that, in spite of his obvious religous bias, I never once experienced any overt prejudice or humiliation at his hands, despite being one of the most ignorant and least religious boys in the class.

    Furthermore, his thoroughness in expounding the basic principles of Chemistry to a bunch of dunderheads like ourselves helped laid the foundations to a meal ticket and a life in science for many a thickhead including yours truly.

    Joe Wyse ’73

  341. Well, each to one’s own, Joe.

    I think that one of the interesting apects of Hasmo Legends is actually how lightly DJ has got off.

    In spite of their many shortcomings, Cyril, Chich, Flop, Osher, etc, were all real characters, whose idiosyncracies inspired genuine affection amongst many. With the exception of the odd “dunderhead”, I find it hard to believe that you could argue that about DJ.

    In fact, the reason that I haven’t dedicated a full post to the man is that I haven’t got anything interesting, or even mildly amusing, to say about him. If anyone has, I would welcome the offer of a full post (the same goes for Mr. Stanton, Rabbi Roberg, Mitch Taylor, etc).

  342. Neil Greenbaum

    Three memories of DJ (all in the first year):

    Reprimanding a boy in our year who was ‘serving’ his dentention with our yeshiva stream class by telling him in front of his class mates words to the effect of “the only worthwhile thing you do during the day is to turn up to shacharit at the school’s early minyan” – inspiring.

    “Boys on the walking tour… I met a farmer who took me to the side and told me that he adds small amounts of pigs’ milk to cows’ milk to give it a creamy flavour. And boys, that is why we should only drink Hechshered milk” – ???

    DJ began introduced the chapter of “Pilegesh Begiva” in the book of “Shoftim”. The story deals in part with the male rape. DJ gave a whole sermon for 15 minutes of “boys, I think that you are old enough to learn this and you need to be mature…”. He then went on to skirt around the issue entirely such that it was impossible to tell what the story was about at all. No doubt I would still be in the dark if I hadn’t leant the story in Yeshiva. – for me says it all about the approach to Jewish learning fostered by the Hasmo Elite.

  343. I hope that my readers enjoyed a happy Purim . . . and that my fellow ex-Hasmos amongst you remembered the admonition of our late founder and principal, Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld, not to dress up as a female on this day.

    At a time when the State of Israel is facing the threat of nuclear annihilation by an Islamofascist maniac, and the position of world Jewry is perhaps as precarious as at any time since 1945, never can this warning have been more pertinent.

    I am starting to wonder, however, whether my Hasmonean ‘education’ might have made me a tad over-zealous . . .

    Earlier today, I approached a man in a dress on Rothschild Boulevard.

    “Do you know it is osser to dress up as a woman on Purim?” I asked him.

    “I am a coccinelle (Hebrew for transsexual), you fuckwit” he replied. “I have even undergone genital reconstruction surgery. Wanna see?”

    I politely declined, but was overcome with remorse and felt about two inches tall.

    “I am so sorry, my man . . . sorry, my friend. I thought that you might, chas v’shalom, have dressed up as a female just for Purim. And that would have been very, very wrong.”

    “Fuck off, you nut” he spat, walking off in a huff.

    And I could understand his fury. I had mistaken a male who had merely had his penis reshaped into a vagina for one committing the cardinal sin of pretending to be a woman on Purim (a transgression perhaps as serious for us Jews as mixed dancing).

    Anyway, it is a mistake that I will not make again in a hurry.

    But things can get most confusing, here in Tel Aviv.

  344. Josh Haruni


    Sounds like this fella was more a ‘Cock’s inside’ rather than ‘Coccinelle’..

  345. hasmo girl

    I find it very hard to believe about the anti zionism & Chareidim in the boys school. I went to the girls school which was much Frummer than the boys & never encountered anti zionism & had very few Chareidim.

  346. Welcome, hasmo girl.

    “Very hard to believe” maybe, but an ex-Hasmo at our hotel over Pesach recalled how a JS teacher – much maligned on this blog – told his class, in the aftermath of the March 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, that the 38 Israelis (including 13 children) murdered by the PLO had been “punished for driving on Shabbos.”


  347. Hot off the press (how “inter-esting” is this?!) . . .

    melchett mike sources in NW11 can confirm that a certain David Jacobson is making Aliyah on “Gimmel Ellul”.

    Anyone up for laying on a warm Ben Gurion welcome?

  348. Sad news . . . .

    David Simons z”l – Hasmo 1976-83 – passed away this morning.

    His funeral will be held at 2 o’clock this afternoon, at the regional cemetery on Road 38, a few minutes south of Tzomet Ha’ela (near Bet Shemesh).

    Boruch dayan emes.

  349. David (Squeak) Silver 1974 - 1981

    Boruch dayan emes!!

    I re-read the blog today – Just as funny as the first time.

    I write in the role of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “Damaged Goods”, in no small part due to my experiences at this institution.

  350. Baruch Dayan Emet.

    Are you ever going to give up your Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation??

  351. Doesn’t sound right to me when I talk anything but Modern Hebrew in Sephardi!

  352. David (Squeak) Silver 1974 - 1981

    Living in Izzi for the last 27+ years – speak the language with the proper pronunciation (I can hear my kids laughing uncontrollably at this lie) – but thanks to a Hasmo education, stuff like prayers don’t sound really Jewish unless bastardized in the Ashkenazi tradition.

  353. I often marvel at the fact that my nieces and nephews Hebrew is all-encompassing, whereas I love Modern Hebrew but feel completely the opposite towards Biblical Hebrew. I have no doubt that Hasmo played a HUGE (as in Pretty Woman HUGE) part in that. TG they didn’t affect my level of Zionism too 😉

  354. Quite, David . . . I can just imagine DJ, Nyap and Jerry – and they, after all, are my role models – muttering “Baruch dayan ha’emet” and kissing the male mourners as they do their rounds of the Har Nof shiva homes!

  355. I went to primary school with David Simons. I found this page in a google search about him.

    I noticed my name appearing a few times in the first edition of this blog too. Can we get any of these teachers under Operation Yewtree? Not that I am really into handing them over to goyish police.

  356. I’ve just been reading some of the earlier posts and a memory about Hatikva has come back to me. It was the year we were going on the Israel trip (not sure if they still do that) so I think we would have been in the 4th year? Anyhow, the day before we were due to leave we had Speech Day at Friends House near Euston. The usual boring event with one exception. On the programme it was noticed that Hatikva was not included as part of the close. For us, the boyz off to Israel, that was absurd! It was established that come what may we would be raising our voices and singing our national anthem with pride. And we did. The best part of that was Osher Badiel exiting the hall!

  357. Further to Terry M’s tale above, my memory of David “Jock” Simons z”l – who had been two years above me at Hasmo – is from my 6-month, pre-uni vacation at Gush (Yeshivat Har Etzion) . . .

    My roommate (and David’s fellow Edgware-ite), Melvyn Solomon, had borrowed a water-heating element from him one afternoon in order to make a hot drink.

    Returning from eyeing up (I don’t recall ever plucking up the courage to actually talk to one of them!) Machon Gold girls in Jerusalem that evening, Melvyn and I found the (previously locked) door to our room totally kicked in.

    Certain that it must have been local Arabs, we immediately reported the break-in to the yeshiva authorities, only be nonchalantly informed by David that it had been him . . . he had wanted his heating element!!

    God bless, “Jock”.

  358. Melvyn "Chol" Solomon

    David was a close and old friend – I knew him when we were toddlers and last saw him last Succas at the Hadassah Hospital he looked well and was doing well – lots of great memories growing up including breaking the door in Yeshivah – he will be missed.

  359. “Great memories and rauchous laughter! Anyone remember when Robert Ekeireb (known by Fierstone as Ekeiron?) threw a compass at Fierstone ….. Fierstone’s reply in his unmistakable growl ….. ” Go to Rabbi Roberg and tell him you are expelled for attempted murder” Magic!”

    Perhaps, in light of recent events, Mr Fierstone wasn’t so prone to exaggeration after all!

  360. The shekel has just dropped as to what Freds Blog was on about in his comment above . . .

    A fellow guest at dinner, this evening, cooly informed me that “Hasmonean now has its first murderer”. And, sure enough, if one excludes (as Osher Baddiel no doubt wouldn’t) the nightly mass ‘killings’ unwittingly inspired by Suzanne Stern, it appears that Robert Ekaireb has, indeed, set a new low for our alma mater . . .


    Freds Blog was quoting Simon “Beanie” Lawrence, who – in his comment to melchett mike of February 2, 2009 (see above) – had recounted The Legend of Clive Fierstone and the Compass Thrower . . . somewhat eerily, the very same Robert Ekaireb!!

    Who would have thought: merely one degree of separation between Mr. F (now, if the Lubavitcher Rebbe had predicted an individual’s future with that degree of prescience . . .) and a Chinese lap dancer!

    Anyone have recollections of the dear boy? Apparently, you won’t have to worry about repercussions for a minimum of 22 years . . .

  361. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-34518681?SThisFB

    I like the idea that Hasmonean has to alter its policy by the end of February 2016. Why can’t they alter it from tomorrow?

  362. Disagree Daniel, I would encourage the school authorities to zealously obtain more salacious details on wider aspects of parents sexual practices and proclivities , supported, where possible, by video clips . Surely this would, in some cases , be an effective tool, (pun intended) in fund raising campaigns, something along the lines of the old Monty Python Blackmail Show.
    Once again Hasmonean would lead the world in creativity and as market leaders in a new type of porn, would enjoy some excellent publicity, possibly even investigative reporting by The Times, Guardian, BBC, Frummer Babes, Bonkers of Bushey, Glat Kosher Gals of Golder’s Green, or other august publications of that ilk.

  363. Pinchos Chalk

    Re: shock horror teaching anything of religious significance.

    Missionaries seem to be brilliant at distilling the essence of religion and presenting it in a rosy light.

    Perhaps Nyap should have employed some Jews for Jesus salesmen to keep us on the straight-and-narrow.

    Grant – I was the first boy you met on the first day in the First Form. You asked me what my name was and then told your mum, ‘Look, I made a friend.’

  364. I am saddened to announce the passing of our former Jewish Studies teacher, Rabbi Philip Greenberg, z”l.

    Known to Hasmo boys as “Penguin”, Rabbi Greenberg will be best remembered for his predilection for whacking errant pupils’ knuckles with his favourite blackboard duster, which – for reasons best known to himself – he nicknamed “Georgie”.

    Upon leaving Holders Hill Road in 1982, Rabbi Greenberg relocated to Glasgow – there is no foundation to the rumour that this was for his own safety – where he was appointed rabbi of the city’s Giffnock Synagogue, which he served until his retirement in 1999.

    Baruch Dayan Emes.

  365. He also had good vision and an accurate throwing arm when directing the blackboard duster towards someone sitting at the back of the class. My forehead had a lovely bump for a few days after.

  366. Nathan Azizoff

    Even though he used to look into your eyes as he hit your knuckles with the blackboard duster to see the excruciating level of pain on your face, he was all in all a nice guy with a lot of patience … after all he was my Bar Mitzsva teacher and because of his efforts and IMMENSE patience, I was able to give a great performance on the Shabbat of my Bar Mitzva, so to me, his passing is very sad news.

  367. David (Squeak) Silver

    Reunion For all those who attended Hasmonean Boys school 1974 – 1981
    Date Saturday APRIL 8th (Motzei Shabbat) Time 21:00
    Where: Lechem Basar Restaurant
    (מסעדת לחם בשר)
    At the Tachana Rishona Complex
    (התחנה הראשונה)
    Corner of Emek Refaim and Derekh Beit Lechem Streets….
    Old Katamon District… Jerusalem, Israel

    If anyone is coming they can let David Hersham know by phone or email
    +972 58 7210270

  368. “It’s always the quiet ones”

  369. Claude Vecht-Wolf

    This is very upsetting for all concerned.

  370. Terry Maslin

    Mike, he doesn’t need visitors – there are already more than enough of his ex-schoolmates in there to keep him company… Shhh… lokshen horror!

  371. With all due respect to the Prosecution and the FSA, Freddy had a potential purchaser for his company (remember over 95% of his business was perfectly legitimate) who was happy to pay £15 million for it. That would’ve been ample to have paid off all those retired people who invested money with him. The FSA together with the Crown Prosecution Service refused to allow the sale!! Why? Obviously because their case against Freddy would’ve lost all its glitter after he repaid everybody. At best he would’ve got a “slap on the wrist” and maybe lost his certificate to act as a financial advisor. There would have been no prison sentence or glaring front page headlines and indeed no broken OAP’s with heartbreaking stories. Whilst Freddy acted wrongly and I am certainly not condoning him at all, he did have a plan and a way to repay everybody. Who is responsible for that not working out? The FSA and the CPS….. In fact the £15 million legitimate business has been closed down with no sale, so all that potential income, which could have been used to repay all those investors, has been lost. What a pity and what a waste. And yes, a pity that poor Freddy has to pay the price with a six year sentence and by being ostracized by his community…..

  372. Absolutely. What a terrible pity. Poor, poor Freddy . . .

    Fuck me. 🙄

  373. Terry No. 2, as John McEnroe would have said, you cannot be serious. “Poor Freddy”??!! Perhaps you need to think about the innocent victims in this case, and reconsider where your sympathies lie. I believe he is serving just 19 days for each of his victims

  374. Firstly, with all due respect usually means with fuck all respect – which is precisely what we have here.

    Secondly, I’d love to meet the cunt that wrote this because you see, there is a prison sentence, there are glaring front page headlines and there are indeed broken OAP’s with heartbreaking stories.

    How dare this fucktard blame the FSA and the CPS. How dare they use the words “pity” and “waste” to somehow belittle the immense gravity of this case.

    This man stole from his friends and family and that we must “remember” that 95% of his business was legitimate should make his fraudulent activity somehow acceptable ? Yosef Fritzel fucked his daughter in the basement of his house for years and years but he was very good to his own mum. You get my point.

    Too fucking right poor Freddy has to pay the price with a six year sentence and by being ostracised by his community. The man lied and stole and has left multiple lives in ruins.

    This is far from a victimless crime and the author of this post needs to wake up and smell the bromide.

    Slap on the wrist ? The man’s lucky not to get two barrels up his fat arse on behalf of all the victims in his wake.

    Do your time Freddy and in time accept how royally you have fucked up yours, your family’s and your victims’ lives.

  375. Wow guys, you really need to calm down and stop being such pathetic Hasmotards. Read and understand before writing your rubbish!!

    You are just proving my point, it is exactly because of my concern for the victims that I am so p’ed off with the FSA and CPS. If you would ask any of these suffering victims a simple question, what do you prefer – your money back or Freddy punished? I am 100% convinced that they would all answer that their money back is far more important. So why didn’t the CPS and FSA do the obvious thing and yes, care for the victims, and allow the sale to ensure the money is returned? Nobody is saying that because 95% of the business was legit therefore what he did was right, just use that fact to help the victims! What he did was horrible and wicked and he deserves his punishments, but the sad stories of the victims could’ve been avoided with a bit of common sense.

  376. Hey Henry, what’s it like in there? Many Muzzies? If they ask your name just tell them its Farouk Al-Daoud and they shouldn’t give you any bother. Might be an idea to tuck your tzitzit in first though k?

  377. Perhaps if you’d have saved us that pile of “poor Freddy” claptrap in your first email . . .

    A thief. A criminal. A life ruiner. And a chilul Hashem.

  378. Apparently, “poor Freddy” aka “Farouk” aka “Terry No. 2” is appealing his sentence . . .


    I’m praying. That it pisses the judge off . . . who increases it!

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