Hasmo Legends V: Back to Melchett . . . and to Me (Caribbean Trip: Week 3)

My beach reading this past week, Coming back to me, cricketer Marcus Trescothick’s frank account of his battle with depression – which obviously proved an extremely therapeutic exercise for the former England batsman – far from depressing me, has caused me to become increasingly pleased with myself. And not because of my Hasmo Legends posts in themselves . . . but because they have served as the catalyst for online therapy for so many ex-pupils.

The trigger for the series was my realisation that the subject – and the many wild and wonderful Hasmo characters and stories – had, somewhat surprisingly, not been documented elsewhere. If anyone had predicted, however, when I published Hasmo Legends I, that the series would regularly be topping a thousand ‘hits’ a day, and soon a thousand comments, I would have said that they were suffering from a touch of the “King Paleys”. I have been reasonably successful in journalism and law, but making online self-help available to so many ex-Hasmo boys has given me a great (though not smug) sense of personal satisfaction.

Just a fun madhouse?

Just a fun madhouse?

I shared my Hasmo experiences with boys who are still my closest friends today, nearly a quarter of a century after we left. And my memories of the institution were largely positive – of a fun madhouse, if you like – but I have been given cause to revisit them by the emotional depth and honesty of some of the comments to Hasmo Legends, which have taken the series to another dimension. And some of the more serious issues which have surfaced have taken me by surprise.

But should they have?

I certainly experienced my fair share of indiscriminate pinches, raps on the knuckles, slaps across the face, and even the dreaded plimsoll. The funny – or, perhaps, worrying – thing, however, is that, until now, I never really questioned such experiences . . .

  • Rabbi Abrahams used to patrol the classroom with his arms at ninety degrees and the palms of his hands open and facing downwards, ready for action. I vividly recall the regular, generous slappings – to face and/or legs (he would move down there when one covered one’s face) – which he administered to me and my classmates, none of whose behaviour could ever be described as anything more than mildly mischievous.
  • And Rabbi Greenberg most definitely was a sadist. On one occasion, the man nicknamed “Penguin” (and no less grotesque than the Batman villain) confiscated a Hebrew/English dictionary – not dissimilar from one of those long paint-colour card indexes – from me. He proceeded to bash me on the knuckles with it . . . so hard, that it exploded all over the floor. And, yes, he would look you in the eyes after every hit, to see if you were breaking. The c*nt.
  • Even Mr. Johnson, who usually seemed the most placid of souls, once administered a particularly vicious beating – the worst I ever witnessed at Hasmonean – to our most gentle classmate, the late Ephraim Amini. Perhaps it followed one of those lunchtime visits to the pub, that other commenters recall.

It is so easy to chuckle now at Steve Posen’s eccentricities (the red shirt on Rosh Chodesh [a New Moon], for example), but wasn’t he rather too plimsoll happy to have been allowed anywhere near 11-year old backsides? And should Rabbi Angel’s chosen instrument for beatings – a thick wooden plank, which we nicknamed “Wacko” – really have been such a laughing matter? While such methods and tools may indeed have been a “sign of the times”, as some on melchett mike have suggested, they should have been no more acceptable then than they would be today.

More than any physical abuse, however, my own most painful memory of Hasmonean was the unkind (not to say unprofessional) attitude of Posen’s fellow biology teacher – and, later, deputy headmaster – Mr. Joughin, while I was working through my own teenage issues. Rehashing the details here, however, would serve no useful purpose.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I bear no grudge against any of the assorted misfits who taught at Hasmonean. And I don’t have the inclination, or the understanding of such matters, to analyse the causes of their abusive behaviour (various commenters to melchett mike have undertaken that task most eloquently). I would drink a beer (or cherry brandy) with any of them (except perhaps DJ, who I would throw one over). At the same time, however, I recognise that commenters’ experiences, and their effects on them, will differ from mine.

On Friday, I attended Kabbalat Shabbat (evening service) at Barbados’s Nidchei Yisroel (“The Dispersed of Israel”) synagogue, the second oldest in the western hemisphere. Founded in 1654, it was sold by the island’s then last remaining Jew in 1929. It reopened in 1987, following a beautiful restoration managed by the grandchild of Moses Altman, the first of a new wave of Jews to arrive here in the 1930s.

With Hasmonean so much on my mind at the moment– due to my need to moderate commenters’ occasional excesses (and the Fourth Test prompting even cricket fanatics to question how they ever liked the sport) – I couldn’t help but think how, in spite of its obvious importance for the many Jewish visitors to Barbados, our former Jewish Studies teachers would no doubt disapprove of the congregation: it has mixed seating, females count towards a minyan (quorum) and can recite kaddish (the mourner’s prayer), parts of the service are in English, and the syngaogue’s location means that congregants have no option but to drive there . . . oh yes, and they don’t forbid recalcitrant ex-Hasmo boys from taking photographs.

But Nidchei Yisroel, and its adjoining cemetery and museum, chronicling the fascinating history of Bajan Jewry, served as a welcome reminder of the many positives in our wonderful religion . . . something that the small-minded tyrants entrusted with our spiritual education – but who, instead, turned so many Hasmo boys against it – could never comprehend (never mind accept).

On a personal note, while I still experience a certain lack of focus from being the product of a ‘mixed’ marriage, it was also my good fortune. My sceptic Litvak (of Lithuanian origin) late father counterbalanced the unquestioning belief of my mother, of Chassidic Galician stock, so that our Passover Seder (meal) would always feature Reiss assertions of the God-inspired miracle of the State of Israel, with an Isaacson riposte of “So where was God at Auschwitz then?”

The line between a healthy (as I see it) scepticism, however, and cynicism can be a thin one. However ludicrous it might seem to me today, I was always petrified that more religious school friends who visited our home might witness my father transgress (however ‘mildly’) the Sabbath. On our walk home from syngagogue, one Saturday morning, with my classmate Jonny Finn – from Golders Green, but visiting relatives in Hendon – a short distance behind us, I begged my father not to ring the doorbell . . . to which he replied, “What do you think that they do when no one is looking?”

Whilst, thanks to my mother, therefore, I can never forget the importance of our tradition, my father ensured that the perversions of Hasmonean’s Rabbis had little chance of taking hold.

The Hasmo ‘religious’ experience, however, and its excesses, meant that children from more homogenous households than mine were either, in the case of Yids (see Hasmo Legends II), less likely to ever expand their Jewish horizons in a more enlightened direction, or, in that of Yoks, so completely turned off by Orthodoxy that not even ‘born again’ movements (such as Aish HaTorah) could ever ‘rescue’ them.

On a rather different note, I have received a few emails from readers of melchett mike expressing concern at the issue of defamation. I don’t intend to provide a summary of English libel law here (Google it), but if what you write is factually true (or a reasonable opinion based on such facts), you have nothing to worry about, and no need to hide. For that reason, while I have no problem with anonymous comments to other posts on melchett mike, I will not permit them on Hasmo Legends, to protect the people being written about. The series and comments thereon, more than others on melchett mike, operate on a basis of trust and personal responsibility, which would otherwise be too open to abuse.

I have added a disclaimer/comments policy to the About this Blog page. Please take the time to read it. If you are unhappy with anything you have written thus far, please contact me and I will amend or delete it. The bottom line is this – if you would not be prepared to back up your comments in a court of law (however unlikely that it would ever come to that), just read melchett mike . . . don’t comment to it (though that would be a shame).

There is no malice behind Hasmo Legends, merely a desire to tell the truth. The question should be not why I – or, rather, we – are doing so, but, instead, why the supposed ‘professionals’ entrusted with our education and growth did the things that they did.

Hasmo Legends is open to everyone. Some individuals have commented more than others. And some comments have been rather ‘heavier’ than others. But please don’t be deterred. As long as you are telling the truth, or expressing your reasonable opinions based on it, feel free to share your experiences, good or bad, funny or sad.

And, if you visit Israel, please do look me up. Why more of you haven’t taken the plunge, but chosen instead to remain in the ‘ghettos’ of North-West London, is a source of continuing bewilderment to me. As my old Hasmo mate, Joey Garfinkel, always reminds his apikores (heretic) friend, “Every arbah amos (roughly, four steps) that you walk in Eretz Yisroel (Israel) is a mitzvah (good deed)” (which is just as well for me).

My next post in the series, on a Legend named “Sid”, is reddening nicely – like a pinched cheek, in fact – in the melchett mike ‘oven’; but I just felt the need for a little introspection and stocktaking . . . until it is fully-browned.

[If anyone is in possession of a  photograph of the great man, I’d be willing to offer a soya roll for it . . . or half (i.e., “one half”) of a chocolate rice crispies. In fact, I would be grateful for any good snaps – of the asylum, its staff or inmates – as I could then dedicate a complete Hasmo Legends post to a “pictorial history”.]

Next on Hasmo Legends, Part VI: Rabbi “Sid” Cooper – The Pinching Preacher

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69 responses to “Hasmo Legends V: Back to Melchett . . . and to Me (Caribbean Trip: Week 3)

  1. hadassahsabo

    Mike,

    my brothers attended Hasmo in the 80s, and so many of the stories that i have read here sounded familiar. i could probably repeat all the Cyril stories verbatim!

    thinking back – when i heard about the physical abuse we just seemed to accept it as their way of keeping order. back then it was just the way things were done.

    these days if a teacher hit my kid, this mama bear would be up in arms and bring all kinds of trouble raining down on the teacher and the school.

    i am sure there were boys devastated by their experiences at hasmo, who still are indelibly marked, but others just chalked it up to the way things were.

    i wonder if there was a teachers handbook back then, and if it addressed physical punishment?

    Keep writing the Hasmo series – my boys have never seen me laugh so hard, and i only lived through it vicariously. it seems to provide a great forum for healing for some people too. who would have thought it??!!

  2. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    Mike,

    May I suggest a reunion sometime soon in Israel (I would be happy to host it here at Sde Eliyahu , but I fear its too far away for all the afluent toshvei hamerkaz) ? With all the “issues” of ex-hasmos, some of the more legal and accountancy minded alumni could claim refunds of the costs as group therapy.

  3. You may, Simon . . . though you will be pleased to hear that discussions are already under way for some such. I think we will definitely require a psychologist or social worker in attendance, in case there are any breakdowns!

    While Sde Eliyahu sounds tempting, sadly, I swore I would never go back to the place after visiting friends who were on Bnei Akiva “hachsharah” there, some 23 years ago. Must have been something to with being forced to get up and spray the fields at 4am in the bloody morning . . . even though we were, supposedly, “guests”. I am sure it is lovely now, though. 😉

    Any chance of your dad attending? And even bringing Mr. Marks with him? Now that really would be something!

    Mike

  4. Michael Taub

    This really a great series of blogs that you’ve put together and I commend you for it! It is always with mixed emotions however, that I have been reading it. I enjoy the retelling of all the great stories and remembering all the characters. I’m always left with a slightly bitter after-taste however.

    Whilst there were many happy moments for me, my overriding feeling was that I hated being there & couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

    The shambolic teaching & general lack of interest from the staff had something to do with it. I was also mercilessly bullied (mainly verbally) for 2-3 years by a boy in my year (you know who you are), to such an extent I’m not sure I could forgive him even now, even with a sincere apology. Existing somewhere in between the yids/yoks & Hendon/Edgware cliques may not have helped either. (Of course it’s probably more to do with being one of the sad gits that blight every school)But none of that matters now really.

    As you say, you’re surprised that this has actually had some therapeutic benefits for people; well it’s surprised me too. It’s good to put it in perspective through all the reminiscences and make some sense of all the madness. It’s especially good for me as I’m now living in Australia (see some of us manage to expand our horizons), where most people haven’t even heard of Hasmo, much less regale a good tale or two.

    So thanks for every thing so far and looking forward to the next installment.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. daniel hass

    I think a lot of the readers of these blogs will have memories of the odd “beating” or two at the hands of some of the teachers, I am sure that there was similiar issues in all schools during the 1970’a and 80’s, I would be interested to get the reaction of more recent pupils to the fact that physical punishment was the norm in Hasmo back then. I personally was kicked on the shins by Alan Walters and remember having my cheek almost ripped off by Mr Posen. I have to say however that I have never felt the need to “get over” it. I assume that relative to the abuse and violence of other schools we got off lightly.

  6. i saw steve posen this past saturday ( sorry, not shabbos – lost my faith since hasmo!). he still has the same extraordinary gait..like someone yomping through the highest snow on the alps. He looks like he could go on inteminably.
    He was such a strong b-stard in every way, too.
    One field trip, i forget to where, everybody got salmonella except the Posen.
    The strain of Salmonella was duly named salmonella posen, after him. This is apocryphal,and needs to be ratified by the literati scientfica!

  7. jake Rosenfield

    Hi Mike,

    Great blog, bringing back many memories of our time at Hasmo.

    I noticed your continued dislike of DJ after so many years.

    Still living in the “ghetto” of NW London I meet quite a number of my ex-teachers and almost feel sorry for the grief that we gave them during our school years.

    However when it comes to DJ, who I do bump into on a regular basis, I still can not bring myself to greet him. I know that I am not alone & have come across so many ex Hasmo’s who feel the same.

    What was it about that “Zit” that has left so many of us, some 25 years latter with the same dislike of him today as we had back then?

    I look forward to your blog on DJ and reading the stories of other people’s memories of probably the most despised teacher ever.

    Jake Rosenfield

  8. Lovely hearing from you, Jake! My only explanation for my feelings for DJ is that he always seemed to go that extra yard to make our lives unpleasant. And, unlike some others, he always came across more bad than mad. It is interesting that even people who see him now, decades after leaving Hasmo, in Golders Green, still feel the same way. If he writes me a letter of apology, I’d be prepared to forgive him . . . as a fellow “Yeed”. 😉

    The funny (and lucky) thing is that DJ didn’t teach me for very long (as well as of himself, he instilled in me a deep loathing of chemistry . . . the irony is that I am now ‘in house’ at a large pharma company!) So, as with “Woody Harrison”, if someone with more experience of the “Legend” that is DJ would care to write a post about him, please get in touch with me. You can have a ‘guest spot’ on melchett mike!

  9. Mike Shalom,
    I went to “Hasmo” 1975-1979 and left back to Israel at the end of the 3 form.I was sent a link to your blog by Robert Lederman (he was in my year / class) Our Form master was Dr Finkelstein of whom I have fond memories (I was good at phisics).
    To the point – I enjoyed very much reading your stories,but I was especialy moved to read your stories (and comments) about the phisical abbuse which I also experienced a lot of.
    I’d like to share with you (and the rest of the blogs readers) my first experience. unlike losing my verginity , very painfull ,yet ,as it turns out,just as memorable !

    My first year at “hasmo” ,first few weeks at school (grammer – before I was at primary) ,English lesson with Mr Soester, I’m sitting at the front of the class and I’m hit by a piece of chalk ,thrown from the back (Robert – I think it was you or Robert French ) . I don’t hessitate,and being an “Israeli” I throw it back( “an eye for a chalk” if you really need a reason…. )

    As I turn to sit ,I’m faced head on by Mr Soester (does he have a first name? do any of them ? ) who with a very calm voice said “Master Kohn – please come forward” ( We didn’t have first names !) He then gave me the following instructions –”Go to the teachers room,you can use the middle stair case (It was off limits to us “Fresh meat” from the first year) knock on the door and ask for “Freddy”.
    I followed the instructions to the letter , I remmember thinking that he must be at least “one marbel short” ( as indeed they all were ) ,unfortunatly he wasn’t.
    I was met ,after knocking at the door as if I was knocking on the “Aron ha-kodesh”,by Mr Lawrence, who asked me “cheerfully” – “What do you want BOY !!” so I tald him.
    After he took a long look at me (like an undertaker taking size) he returnd to the “holly room’ and emerged after a short while with “Freddy” – A white plimsoll ,which had the word “freddy” written at the front.The shoe was placed on a silver tray.
    On seeing “freddy” the “dime didn’t drop” unlike “freddy”, like the old saying ,the gun that appears in the first scence ,will fire in the second ,and kill –my sole – in the third.

    I was also positive that being a “gentile” he must be an IDIOT !!

    What followed ,well I’m sure you can guess.However ,what you can’t guess is ,the immence shame I felt years later during my school years in Israel and 16 years in the army ,shame that being an “Israeli” I didn’t knock his head off for hitting me,as I should have done to the other sadists (and the called themselves “Rabbi’s”).

    Funnly enough it was Mr Paley who put a stop to it for me a year or so later. He used the cain on me , and it hurt so baddly I left school went home and called my father !
    First time my parents found out was then – What my father did is anther story – but what I can say is that what he did ,stopped for ever the phisical abbuse,I recieved a written apolgie and a verbal one ,from Paley, two weeks later,but most importantly I WILL ALWAYS LOVE AND RESPECT MY FATHER FOR HIS (PHISICAL) ACTION !!!

  10. Re:DJ;

    During the sixties and early seventies he sported a Bobby Charlton hairstyle, doubtlessly in emulation of the great Man United centre forward . As he leaned forward over a bunsen burner one day,our nostrils were greeted by the acrid odour of burning feathers as the major portion of his comb-over flopped forward into the flame and ignited.I think it was Yitzy Bauenfreund or Menachem Goldstein who, having waited the requisite amount of time for the conflagration to truly take hold, alerted him to this fact with a “Sir!Sir!,Please sir, your hair’s fallen off! ” I believe that their public spirited vigilance was not appreciated by the majority of their classmates.

    By the way, considering the negative press that he has been receiving in these posts, I simply don’t have any really bad memories of him ! Of course he was barking mad and violent, but so were all of our masters,each in his own way,which only added to the “charm “of Hasmo.Maybe he got worse as he got older, since it appears to me that most of the bad DJ related posts are from pupils of a younger generation.We of the old Grammar school era probably accepted the brutality of the school as matter of fact. I think that all schools were like that in those days.Legend has it that in the year above us, a certain Lebor even caned a master back, broke the cane over his knee and chucked it out of the window. Can anyone confirm this ?
    Back to DJ; I found him to be an excellent chemistry teacher, and one of the influences that induced me to pursue a career in science.Happily I can blame my lack of Jewish observance more on laziness than ill feeling towards religous maniacs like DJ among the staff , so no harm done.
    Does anyone have a “School Companion” circa 1967 (I refer of course,not to one of those inflatable women that could be mail ordered from one of the publications I have referred to in a previous post) but rather to some kind of anthology of prayers and psalms that we were supposed to carry with us at all times to help us overcome the Yezter HaRah.If someone can, perhaps they could scan it and put it on the blog. Then we could all sing the school song together on web cam ! What a spiffing wheeze that would be ! We could also all take turns leading afternoon Mincha in cyberspace, much to the horrifying embarassment of the non Yeshiva stream boys among us who found it such an ordeal at the time.

  11. Steve Graniewitz has very kindly provided me with three recordings of the school choir, from Speech Day 1983. I would love to upload them to melchett mike, especially since one is of the school song, featuring Mitch Taylor’s idiotic instruction to replace “Eretz Tziyon” with “Eretz Hakodesh”!

    Problem is my blog host (WordPress) does not allow me to upload the audio file type (mp3). I am not very technically minded, so if anyone is willing to upload them to an external site (YouTube?) to which I can post a link on melchett mike, would be much appreciated. (Kindly leave a comment here.)

    Thanks,

    Mike

  12. Henri Berest

    The reason DJ was so hated was that he really enjoyed being a nasty vindictive bully.
    He is one man who even today I wouldn’t p*ss on if he was on fire.

  13. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    send them to me -Ill put them on our server and send a link

  14. Mike,

    I echo others in their praise of this site. I just wish that more people from my year would join in. So far, we’ve had entries from Shimon Soester, Jeremy Cardash, David Barnett and yours truly.

    There are a lot of stories waiting to be told from the 1979-’86 bunch…where are you guys?

  15. Mike

    Regarding your comment on mp3 files, I’m a sound technician, so e-mail me and I’ll see what I can do.

    Regarding DJ: Don’t get me started! The point about this excuse for a human is that he was meant to be teaching us Chemistry. However, if you weren’t from his G-d squad, or if he felt you weren’t frum enough, he was nasty, vindictive and spiteful.

    The amount of time he wasted hauling someone (usually me) up in front of the whole class whilst trying his hardest to belittle his ‘victim’ was pathetic. It just made him look ridiculous. And the more he banged on, the funnier he looked, so it really had the opposite effect that he was hoping for. The man’s barking mad.

    He was once showing us an experiment and half way through, he made a mistake. We knew it, and he knew it. What’s more, he knew that we knew. But he just banged on regardless, despite the fact that he’d missed a vital stage of the experiment. Nutcase!

  16. David Silver

    Thank you Mike
    It’s brought back memories that I had successfully repressed. By the way DJ is the reason I studied chemistry at Uni – nothing works as well as telling a kid they’ll not succeed at something to get them to prove the B wrong.
    Meanwhile I too am in house at a small pharma in Israel.

    But all in all I don’t have any grudges and I believe despite beeing beaten every week I attended Hasmo – I actually liked both Steve Posen and Liam Joughin, also Mitch Taylor and DJ and the others were more of a source of deep and gratifying amusement than childhood trauma.
    The only voice that could get me to wake up in a cold sweat was that belonging to a certain French teacher – and even he can now be remembered as a creatuture (wretched) to be pitied – more than that would be a kindness
    Keep Well

  17. Jeremy Cardash

    I would be happy to arrange a Hasmo reunion in our little affluent 🙂 corner of Modi’in where a few Hasmo Alumni now reside, you know who you are. I would echo Claude’s call for any of the true 80’s bunch to make your voices heard, especially AT, you know who you are. Last time i saw you we were at Spurs vs Hapoel TA, now there was a reunion. Together screaming Yid army and singing Ner L’ragli sadly? without Mr Taylors maniacal arm waving.

  18. Simon Lawrence

    Dear Melchett Mike

    I was not frum. I did not find DJ nasty, vindictive or spiteful and I have no particularly negative memories associated with being taught by him.

    What’s wrong with me?

  19. Simon,

    You’re not alone. I loathed DJ during my schooldays but with hindsight, I don’t think he was such a bad guy. I can vividly remember one occasion when he found a diary of mine which I had lost. On the front page I had written “Life is like a pubic hair on a toilet seat. Eventually you get pissed off”. Following this ,he called me into his office for a ‘heart to heart’ and I remember him being very down to earth and non-judgmental.

    There were another two occasions where I had been involved in one-on-one fights, and he was dealing with myself and the other individuals involved. On both occasions, were he to have had to make a decision as to was the perpetrator based on reputation alone, it would surely have been me, hands down, but he didn’t jump to conclusions. Instead he showed remarkable astuteness in getting to the bottom of the situation swiftly and fairly.

    Broadly speaking, peoples opinions on this blog with regard to individual teachers are fairly unanimous. But there is some subjectivity also. As I mentioned before on here, the only teacher that I still harbour resentment for is Chichios, yet I seem to be the only person on here who feels that way. Some posters, yourself included, speak quite highly of him.

  20. Jonathan 'Choirboy' Levene

    Mike

    I got on with DJ even though I was not a member of the so called G-d squad (at the time). Took an interest in chemistry as well as long as I had him as a teacher .

    If you went on the walking tours to the lake district/ snowdonia/peak district , with DJ Steve Posen , Rabbi Abrahams, Jonny Boker at al , you did get to see a much more human side to the teaching staff as well as as having a good time with the lads .

    And when we returned to school the feeling was reciprocated and by and large we were treated as ‘mentchen’ by the above staff.

    My son now goes to the hasmo camps organised by DJ to switzerland . it is the highlight of his year.

    Is something the matter with me that i don’t feel bitter and twisted about my time in hasmo ?Come on , how can people harbour grudges about teachers 20 years + after leaving school.

  21. Hi Yoynoson!

    Good to hear from you, pal. I am glad to hear that you admit, by implication, to being a member of the “G-d Squad” now . . . and, also by implication, that you do not consider melchett mike to be “bitul z’man”! (Could you get a Doniyel Israel rubber stamp on that?!)

    As I wrote in my post above, I don’t bear a grudge against any of our former teachers (though see my “PS” below) . . . but why should boys have had to waste their summers with those losers in order to receive preferential treatment back at school?! And why were they treated as “mentchen” only then?

    Being “bitter and twisted” and “harbour[ing] grudges” is one thing. Discussing the past, and the behaviour of our former supposed educators, is quite another.

    When you coming to live in Eretz HaKodesh?

    M

    PS Please ask Yanky to inform DJ, the next time they are in Switzerland, that lowering the safety barrier in ski lifts is a thoroughly unnecessary precaution. 😉

  22. David Silver

    Just remembered a fascinating day when DJ taught us car mechanics using his morris 1000 as the subject including how to disable a car by removing the distributer cap

  23. Fascinating comments regarding DJ and I don’t deny that there are differing memories for differing boys.

    Strange thing is, I have absolutely no bad feelings towards any teachers except DJ. Chemistry lessons followed the same script: literally the second we walked into the lab – even if we were on best behaviour – someone would be hauled out for ritual humiliation for absolutely no reason other than his perception of the boy’s level of observance.

    Interesting to note that I never recall a frum boy being treated in this way. As someone earlier said to him, we were all gassed together.

    I’d like to see DJ explain to my father, a Holocaust survivor who was very particular about sending his kids to Jewish schools, why he felt the need to be so nasty to those who in his opinion weren’t ‘good’ Jews.

    A lot of boys in my year referred to him as a bigot and I have to agree with them. I’m glad that some people have good memories of him and that he does have a decent streak somewhere. It’s just a shame that he couldn’t show it to all the boys he taught.

  24. Henri Berest

    Eli,
    Agree with you completely about DJ.
    To be one of his ‘boys’, you had to fall into at least one of three categories:-

    1. Being Ultra Frum
    2. Not being frum but being very studious/clever ultimately bringing credit to the school with good results
    3. Not being Frum or clever, but him holding the belief that you could be ‘turned’ from the dark side.

    If you didn’t fit in to those categories, you were just toast to him.

  25. Would be great to have a Hasmo re-union in Israel, do any of our ex-teachers live here? Perhaps they will come also!!

  26. Maurie Ernst

    I wrote a comment about DJ on the Cyril site – which I shall paste below – I would like to emphasise that in my time DJ, was almost almost universally hated. He was a really nasty piece of work, vindictive, small minded, a relgious bigot and very anti zionist. He was an adult with the personality and hangover of a small child – the class sneak mixed with the class bully. and when he really went for a boy he did it slimily and surreptitiously, hiding his real intentions behind a facade of pleasantness, not revealing his true intentions. I can honestly say I have never in all my years of education for myself and my children met a more slimy sneaky personality in a teacher. A teacher’s function should have been to educate, support and help the children in his care , not bully them – for several years Willie was officially headmaster but he was never in school as he suffered from cancer of the colon – in those days an UCCA report was the way to university and the headmsters recommendation was a must for acceptance no matter what grades you had – Willie was away DJ played and DJ wrote the UCCA reports for Willie to formally sign, and I had it from the horses mouth as Willie was quite freindly with my parents – DJ out of pure spite and ingrained bigotry ruined several boys future careers. He was especially vindictive to less frum boys, and he was blatantly obvious about it, talking about the length of their hair when punishing them. Sitting in his 6th form Chem lab he would keep his eye out so as to never miss any long haired boys sneaking into school – those who were both late and without caps coming in at the side of the school and not frum in his opinion,would be not only punished but verbally humiliated in front of our small A level chemistry group and they would be made to stand the complete period in grotesque poses.
    If he caught two boys at the same time and generally he caught four or five boys every morning period, he would reprimand the short hair boy and cuddly coo to him to give his message to us of the correct way to lead our lives and the “rewards” it would bring us, then tell the short haired boy to go and proceed to punish the long haired boy.

    Pasted from the Cyril; blog –

    I think everyone always had the last laugh at Cyril, so for all his antics he was loved. the same could be said for most of the other teachers, excepting Sid and espescially DJ who were really nasty numbers.

    DJ would wait in the Chem lab at the side entrance to the school to catch latecomer boys and those sneaking out at lunchtime not wearing their school cap, and would only apprehend the ones with long hair, making them stand aginst his classroom wall in ridiculous poses and not in any way doing anything to the “frumer” boys – and he made no bones about it.

    Steve Posen started playing with phosphorus one lesson and it exploded and got stuck in bits all over the chem lab ceiling. then a few months later in a lesson of DJ a large part of it burst into flames exploded fell to the floor and it landed near Malcolm Granat. Malcolm was a brilliant student who with absolutely no work got straight A’s. but he was also very unconventional. He was bored out of his mind by the lessons and he then decided to manufacture explosives in DJ chem lessons.
    He sat himself on the back bench and whilst DJ was droning on in the lessons he made TNT, and nitroglcerine. After a few weeks of piddling about he took the stuff he made and went to the park at the side of the school – of course in school time and missing nearly all his lessons – dug holes in the park grass put his explosives made in the chem lab and set off the explosives. This went on for almost six weeks with Granat hardly ever being at his lessons, other than chem lessons till one day DJ found out. Granat told DJ what he thought of him and DJ made Granat’s life hell after that every possible way he could and made sure that Granat despite brilliant A level results was not accepted to medicine his choice or to any other university for any subject – till finally he got in on clearance somewhere obscure for a subject he never wanted to study.

    I remember Jeremy Rose one day walking into the chem lab lesson and out of the blue going up to DJ and saying hello DJ BSc failed, Bsc failed BSc failed, BSc, – everyone roared with laughter – and when Sid was the form teacher of the upper six Aaron Cohen together with others sent to DJ and sid at his neighbours and freinds home addresses subscriptions to playboy and pornographic magazines in his and DJ’s name.
    DJ together with Jerry (Gerber) also had a clear declared agenda of making the school frumer and more charedi, part of which include bringing in Rabbi Roberg as headmaster ( a charming man, they made a mistake there) – – they instituted hashkofo lessons for the sixth form – which I stopped attending after they tried to inculcate the boys with anti zionist propaganda including the one that the zionists sold Jews to the Nazis for money, to be sent to be burnt in the camps. They then brought in Osher Badille who tried the same lines in a regular JS lesson, with the addition of a story I will never forget of his father had a heart attack on shabbos but they did not call the ambulance as they were unsure as whether he was going to die or not, and did not want to be mechalel shabbos for an uncertain reason. the boys went dead silent and were absoltuely shocked – and when he added the bit about the Zionists selling jews for money – iszkiwits and a few others, including myself, got up and left the lesson.

    Iskovits then had the bright idea of going to his parents who lodged a complaint with Willie against Osher Badille who was dismissed from the school – only to come back again the next year on the promise he would no longer teach this rubbish – which of course he did but in less direct ways.

    In summary if any boys – as blogged above – think DJ was nice to them – I am sorry to disallusion them but they should think again – the nicer he appeared to be – the more dangerous he was and likely he was up to no good behind their backs.

  27. Just logged on to your blog for the first time today, and posted a Chichios memory.

    Fab to see all those names again, Morgan, Levene (can these ineffable names be said together?) etc.

    My kids say they’ve never heard me laugh as much, and i think with as many tears too.

    As for a reunion in Israel – i’m game.

    In the immortal words of the school song:

    “Ner LeRagli Devarecha…”

  28. Interesting to see Maurice’s comments above; sums it up really. Also interesting to read Henri’s list of things guaranteed to make DJ go after someone. But here’s the thing: nowhere on that list is the phrase ‘Inability to do Chemistry.’

    DJ was employed to teach Chemistry; and that’s all. The fact that he used his authority as a teacher to attack young boys – and to prevent them from going to the university of their choice because of his prejudiced views – is just plain bullying.

    I’d like to think that not even Hasmonean could defend him if he tried to behave like that today. The man’s a disgrace to the teaching profession.

  29. Nicole Broder

    Hi Mike,
    I would just like to say how much I enjoy reading this blog. Whenever I have a free moment at school (I’m a teacher) I log on in the staff room and literally can’ t log off. Many teachers have approached me and enquired what exactly is so funny and why I’m laughing uncontrollably, but there’s no way to explain it because they’re Israelis and have no idea what Hasmo culture is!
    Although I attended Hasmo Girls, there is no comparison between the two schools. And I have to admit that this blog is making sense of a lot of what I heard growing up, but never actually understood!
    Thanks Mike and keep on writing!
    Hope to see you soon,
    Nicole

  30. Ivan Taylor

    Mike

    I agree an Israel reunion is a good idea but I am not sure that ex teachers would add anything !!

    Keep up the good work and have a great Pesach.

  31. Jonathan Wasserberg

    I was at hasmo from 71-78. This blog has brought back so many memories and I have laughed and cried and it has felt very good to know that after all I was not alone. What is amazing is that many of you were at the school before or after me and yet have had identical experiences.
    I never really recovered from the ‘yeshiva stream boys are pure’ episode and it was the subsequent feeling of impurity that was difficult to throw off. I do respect the comments about our President but that was a real body blow ,not contradicted by a single teacher then or later. Most of my vivid memories are traumatic somehow, OB saying that the bus bomb victims should have known better than to travel on shabbat, a comment which sparked a full scale riot and really upset me. The chemistry teacher we all love to hate sneering at a delivery man because he was a goy, or endlessly teasing me for having become a St John Ambulance Cadet.
    I’m trying to remember the good bits, I remember Mr Taylor, he of the lunchtime chess club, doing the commentary over the tannoy at a Copthall sports day. Here comes Wasserberg, leading the field, here he is, the final strait, AND hes being overtaken by 1, 2,3 now 5 boys, Oh dear he said, over the tannoy.
    Now to be fair despite all my supposed impurity I was promoted to Prefect and for a short time became Rabbi Robergs favourite. ‘Whatever you need to do the job, you’ve got it ‘he said. Armed with such approval I turned my attention to sorting out the farce that was the lunch queue. Boys would push in to a long queue just before the right hand turn to Mrs Bannisters serving table. Constant scuffles between prefects and boys would proceed throughout lunch, with boys dragged by their blazers along the ground kicking and swearing. They would get up, dust themselves off, go back round the corner and push in again! My efforts at bringing some order to the lunch queue brought some dark threats that I should avoid walking alone in the alleyway by the chemistry lab down to the gym if I knew what was good for me.
    I enjoyed the trade in desserts, particularly the high value that a strawberry tart with coconut sprinkles could attract, or second favourite chocolate krispies. Remember the unusual treat of a snowcrest ice lolly?
    Sports with chich, run around the school three times. By the time we got from the gym to the shul, most of us were wrecked. We must have been the unfittest lot of boys in london. One boy ran in his shorts and blazer and kept a cooked chicken leg in his pocket. As soon as he was out of sight of chich, he would lean against the wall, adjust his kapel,say a brocho and start eating.
    I don’t know if these memories are helping any of you but they are doing me the world of good.

  32. On reading this, it reminded me of a Chemistry lesson in the late ’70’s with DJ.

    He declared emphatically that “ALL chemical reactions were reversible.”

    One boy (Martin Goldberg?) retorted “Oh yeah, what about toast then?”

    There was a pregnant pause as DJ considered his response.

    “Don’t be stupid” was the best that he could do.

    I’m still convinced that toast is an irreversible chemical reaction.

    Does anyone remember another Frummer who used to teach Chemistry, Roger Gothold? He was my first form master in 1975 and had a full beard/moustache/head of red/brown hair. Can’t remember a damn thing about him apart from that. He doesn’t seem to feature in any anecdotes.

  33. Daniel Marks

    Roger Gothold was my first form teacher too. I believe his middle name was Donut or Doughnut or something of the like as was graciously revealed to us by his cousin Neville. I began Hasmonean in 1972 (I think) and I am pretty sure that we were his first class.

    I recall that Mr. Gothold was single at the time and one Sunday or holiday we met him in Regents’ Park with, what with hindsight , must have been a shidduch. We too were escorted by members of the fairer sex and when he reprimanded us the following day for being in the company of ladies the irony of the situation escaped no one.

    I would remind the ever articulate Uri Baran that I did briefly reference Gothold in an early posting featuring and addressed to Adrian Warren, which I shall repost here for the titillation of the readers.

    “What about the time when Roger Gothold explained to us about sexual intercourse in the first form and when he finally reached the point of penal penetration you released the disgusted cry of, “Yeeach!” Hope you’ve gotten used to it since.”

    I also made later mention of Zvi Chaimovitz who took the subject quite seriously and being a Talmudic scholar of some repute, asked a learned question: (I paraphrase)

    “But sir, you say it goes in there when you’re in bed at night. If both the man and the woman were sleeping at the time, how do they know in the morning whether it happened or not?”

    I know not how much light all this sheds on the inner soul of he who was occasionally nicknamed “the Jolly Roger” but they’re fine anecdotes with important lessons to be learnt.

    I remember Roger as being a reasonable teacher, decent fellow and not overly violent even at the annual teachers-pupils soccer match when the legendary Ellis Feigenbaum led us all in choruses of “Oh! You’ll never get Roger Gothold on the wing, on the wing!” and “Roger Gothold, Roger Gothold, you’re not fit to wipe my arse!” Gothold ignored him and it was left to the venerable Noddy Lever to protect his honor by once again promising an imaginary cane.

    Not the type you’d want to go out for a swift half with (like Harrison) or muck up just one more time (like Cyril) and in no way deserving a page of his own, but as I said – a decent fellow.

  34. Henri Berest

    Roger was my 1st year form teacher as well.
    I have 3 enduring memories of him – Red Hair, When he lost his temper, his face went the same colour as his hair, and the largest flakes of dandruff I had ever seen. These resided on the shoulders of his jacket once they became too large and heavy for his head.
    (The dandruff issue seemed to affect many of the teachers, but with Roger it was like a snowstorm every time he shook his head.)

  35. Nick Kopaloff

    On behalf of all MM readers, including those who may have taken offense at Daniel Marks’s seemingly offhanded jibes in the past, I would like to extend my best wishes to the aforementioned on the occasion of the wedding of his son Amichai “to a certain” Re’ut Shalev.

    Having done with the pleasantries and platitudes, it was certainly intriguing that on that momentous day, Daniel Marks saw fit, rather than fine-tune the seating arrangements or make sure that the Kettuba did not get lost – as it ultimately did, to prefer to regale MM readers with a post, of lengthy recollections of Mr. Roger Gothold’s depiction of “penal penetration.” Misguided priorities or a lesson in multi-tasking?

    I am sure Marks actually meant penile penetration, rather than penal, and his Freudian slip may be indicative of the punition and admonishment that was always attached by Messrs Gothold, Angel and Roston, to our man-friend, for wrongful use.

  36. Nick, after the guest spot which I so magnanimously offered to Daniel (and to you) on melchett mike, should I be offended, Abie-like, that the honour was not reciprocated for the wedding of his son?

    If I had posted his (and your) “rough cut” on Woody – instead of my immeasurably superior version – do you think things might have been different?

    May the Settler be penalised without penance in a penal penitentiary by the penetration into his pooper of a proud, preferably Palestinian, penile protuberance.

    That aside, I extend him a hearty melchett mike Mazal Tov!

  37. Daniel Marks

    Neither can I dispute Koplaloff’s proficiency in spelling nor can I question his having caught my Freudian Slip. Surely it is a sad reflection on the psyche of a late middle-aged ex-Hasmonean that while talking about sex what was really on my mind was punishment – were it that it would have been the reverse, were it that it could have been!

    I was comforted to discover that this late apparent late middle aged unconscious obsession with chastisement is hardly unique, and no lesser a person than the former-president Bush (the son) was heard to commence an oration with, “First I’d like to spank all the teachers…”

    I thank Nick, his lovely wife Miriam and the adorable Liam for helping to make our eldest’s wedding so memorable. I apologize to Mike for the oversight of failing to invite the editor of this excellent blog, but let him be assured that the blog was extensively referenced during the course of the evening and much praise was lavished.

  38. Shimon Soester

    No Daniel, what was very very middle-aged ex-Hasmonean was a story about sex with no women in it whatsoever, and characters being a ginger-head rabbi and a class of 11 year olds.

  39. Daniel Marks

    Hey Mr. English Teacher’s son! No points for your reading comprehension.

    There certainly were women in my story. There was the young lady being courted by the then ginger haired teacher (I have no reason to believe that he had semicha). There were also our ladies, whose names I shall not mention in the name of discretion.

    Simon is right if his point is that my story was not of the erotic genre, but who more than he knows that for an 11-year-old Hasmon of the 70s there were precious few aphrodisiac pleasures in life that didn’t involve one’s left hand or literature of the lascivious type, purchased discretely at Golders Green Station. The second-form would change that – but that is another day, and another story which I’m sure the eloquent Nick Kopaloff will soon write for us.

  40. Nick Kopaloff

    Marks has taken issue with me on my inability to recall school anecdotes with his same clarity of mind. So it was with incredulity that I discovered he had lost all recollection of one of my favorites “The Apple Appreciation Society”. Perhaps his amnesia is Freudian self-inflicted since, as I held the coveted position of Society Chairman, it was the only occasion in our mischief making antics that I could pull rank on arguably the school’s most ever beaten student.

    We set up this august body primarily because we were then allowed to disturb an ongoing lesson with an official announcement “There will be a meeting of the Apple Appreciation Society at 13:00 in the long-room.” Cyril’s look of disdain at the messenger– “is this for real or is he taking the piss” would reinforce our conviction that this endeavor was meaningful and worthwhile.

    I clearly remember two meetings. One was a lecture on “the Virtues of the Russet” with guest speaker David Dunitz, who apart from conceding they were spherical in shape, knew bugger all else about apples.
    Way ahead of our time we earnestly hailed the Egremont Russet as the king of apples long before bona fide apple enthusiasts eventually reached the same conclusion.

    Russet Apples are not a single kind of apple rather a group of apples that have russeting on their skin oft described as a sandpapery texture.
    However seldom do they make it to the greengrocers because consumers have come to believe that the lack of exterior uniformity indicates something is wrong with the apple. Having suffered as a child with eczema I could relate to the rebuff of the Russet.

    Long before Ali G popularized the one-hand clap, Marks was performing it with proficiency at Hasmonean. He used the same technique at another meeting of the Apple Appreciation Society to show us that when shaken, the flagship of English apples, the Cox, was the only apple whose pips would rattle like a Puerto-Rican Maracas percussion instrument. In the great scheme of things, God had made it that way so that blind people could purchase Cox apples without bothering any other shoppers. It was this type of mangled logic that spelled the demise of the Apple Appreciation Society and like the Roman Empire, it was quickly forgotten and seldom mentioned after its fall.

  41. Daniel Marks

    I believe it to have been Donna Roberts who was heard to say, “A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” Nick Kopaloff is undeniably a true friend, and has of late been oft to demonstrate this by heartily crooning my memory losses – for this and much more I thank him.

    Let me commence by stating quite candidly that I have no clear recollections of the Apple Appreciation Society. Kopaloff in his expectedly wily manner implies that my memory loss has been brought about by the fact that this was one society that I was not to be chairman of – this too I can neither confirm nor deny. The descriptions that Kopaloff so ably conjures up are wholly in keeping with the ambiance that prevailed in HGS of the 70s and the facts that I can both clap with one hand and made a practice of checking the authenticity of Cox apples by shaking them are both well documented and matters of public record.

    I therefore, rejoice with Nick and if it was J.M. Barrie who commented that “God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.” Maybe the almighty has given Kopaloff his that he might have Coxes apples in Kfar Yona.

  42. Daniel and Nick,

    What the f*ck are you both on about?!

    I was wondering whether you might want me to create a sub-blog (melchett mike for reformed potheads?!) for your inscrutable meanderings? They have scared even Ellis off!

    Shavua tov,

    Mike

    PS Of course, I merely jest . . . it gives succour to ex-Hasmos to know that there are some the school f*cked up even more than ourselves! 😉

  43. Daniel Marks

    I shall now offer our readers the type of posting of the sort that Mike appears to prefer:

    Oh ye! And what about the time when suddenly someone farted in Cyril’s lesson but nobody could open the window and suddenly Cyril went really bezerk and we almost pi**ed ourselves laughing!

  44. Don’t think you’ll find much of that in what I write, Daniel. Anyway, you seem to be rather fond of melchett mike . . . having posted to it no less than 92 (yes, ninety-two!) times.

    Seeing as you appear rather lacking in sense of humour this morning (must be all that Settler air), your repeated references to “the eloquent Nick Kopaloff”, masturbation, fellatio, “swallowing” and porn (see your recent posts) – whilst not prohibited on melchett mike – hardly qualify as high literature.

    If others, naturally less intellectual than yourself, find “fart[ing] in Cyril’s lesson” amusing, then so be it.

    Now, f*ck off and pick on some Palestinians.

  45. Daniel Marks

    Mike

    If I’m not mistaken Kopaloff, me and your excellent self each mentioned the subject of swallowing (or not as the case may be) exactly once.

    This, however, my dear Mike is neither here nor there. Literature is not determined to be high or low because of its subject matter, but because of its form and more importantly its soul.

    Shakespeare was not adverse to using words that you feel the prudish need to insert ***s within and Lady Chatterley’s Lover has been considered high literature for five decades, despite or maybe because of its subject.

    I was not implying that you write the kind of dribble that I gave an example of, I was just, ever so gently, asking why when others write similar postings to are silent and then when, YES THE ELOQUENT KOPALOFF or my humble self try to raise other issues you ask, in your own unique manner, “What the f*ck are you both on about?!”

    As far as the settlement movement and the return of the Jewish People to its ancestral homeland after 2,000 years of terrible exile, I would happily discuss this question with you but hardly see its relevance to the matter under discussion. Suffice it to say that my argument is too often not with Palestinians whom I have always sought to understand and respect, but with ignorant Jews.

    Please carry on with your excellent blog and feel free to erase this posting if it causes you discomfort.

    Affectionately

    Daniel

  46. No “discomfort” caused, Daniel, I assure you (though it is most honourable of you to clarify . . . and to “swallow” your pride).

    Please feel free to continue using melchett mike for musings on blow jobs, and such like. As it happens, I can’t think of many “subject matters” more enjoyable. (Whilst “form” is indeed critical, I am not sure whether I would ever ascribe “soul” to such acts . . . though, perhaps, that it is only so in Tel Aviv, and should you know of anyone who could prove to me otherwise, I am always open to new experiences).

    My point was merely that it is each to one’s own on melchett mike (though it seems that your “own” and my “own” have the same idea of enjoyment in that regard).

    On the same lofty note, I believe that you meant “drivel” rather than “dribble” . . . but, in view of the subject matter, and the magnificence of your Freudian slip, it would be a crime for me to amend on this occasion!!

    Affection reciprocated,

    M*ke (who still doesn’t know “what the f*ck” you and Nick are “on about” most of the time . . . though that is fine!)

  47. Daniel Marks

    Am taking the day off to recover from our firstborn’s alliance with the lovely, and briefly referenced, Reut Shalev (now Shalev-Marks), therefore I’m feeling quite loquacious and postings should be fast and furious.

    Much was made by the articulate Henri Berest about the seborrhea of Roger Gothold. I would only say that while his description is undeniably accurate, it seems a tad unfair to discuss dandruff without making mention of the saintly Rabbi Kahan, Hebrew and Chumash Rashi instructor extraordinaire, and charismatic honcho of Edgware Adas fame. The number of those little flakes that descended his skull was so immense that readers will note that even today, when Holders Hill Road is observed through the excellent “Google Earth”, one pale blotch can be most clearly be made out.

  48. I’m sorry, Daniel, but I have to pull you up (cf. off) once again . . .

    Henri Berest is not “articulate” (are you, Henri?!)

    And even if Rabbi Kahan was “saintly”, can you please try to stop using adjectives prior to every name!

    You remind me of the legendary (BBC) Radio 2 football commentator, Peter Jones, who would commentate as follows:

    “Shilton, best goalie in the world, rolls the ball out to Kenny Sansom. Sansom, he’ll run all day, passes the ball to Bryan Robson, captain courageous . . .”

  49. Henri Berest

    *artyculayte* ?
    Dunno what that means Mike.

  50. Nick Kopaloff

    Mike,
    The use of asterisks-substituted expletives are as infantile as they are redundant and as cowardly as they are improper. Neither do they soften the invective nor exonerate the author. Smut does have its rightful place both in literature and in discourse, but it should remain undisguised and candidly recognizable for what it is – Smut.
    Perplexed as I am by your descent into the realms of gutter journalism, I realize that as you hobnobbed with a snob, and got hurt by a Hertzog, you see fit to pass on the snub.
    You might have related to the rebuff of the Russet rather than revel in the rancor of retribution by rubbishing some of the most distinguished voices that have graced the pages of your fine creation.

    If my apples opened a can of worms then let the latter feast on the proverbial forbidden fruit rather then have them eat away with heartless derision at the cultivating farmers. With your pedigree Mike, we expected more.

    As “a matter of public record”, when Marks and I simultaneously held journalistic posts at rival publications, we would regularly fuel our notoriety by plugging each other in our columns, incessantly quoting of the other and mutually bestowing the most lavish and flattering adjectives. In keeping with this proud tradition, we persist to this day.
    It is your prerogative to question my eloquence and Marks’s erudition, but I would respectfully ask you to keep your reservations clean.
    Take comfort in the fact that we forgive you for your insensitive knee-jerk quips and digs.
    Whether you choose to celebrate the upcoming Shavuot festival in a pagan style harvest romp, in secular cheesecake celebration, or in orthodox law-giving commemoration – rest assured our compliments of the season will accompany you all the way.

  51. You two dipsticks are about as “eloquent/erudite” as Del Boy on an off-day. That you had the temerity to question my translation – for that is what it was – of your draft on Woody is a source of continuing amusement to me (if any readers of melchett mike fancy a laugh, I will be happy to forward it to them). When are we having another drink with Ellis . . . and, of course, Itzy Sabo?

  52. Daniel Marks

    Mike,

    I have consistently attempted to address issues rather than people and to the best of my knowledge never resorted to calling you names. I have on occasion used the names of teachers because I believe them to be public knowledge and may have on occasion shown less sensitivity in the case of those who I believe sought to humiliate or hurt us, but you will note that I even drew early criticism from the likes of the silver-tongued Nick for not sufficiently chastising the likes of Cyril and Bert Myers. I therefore find your childish name calling bordering on the offensive and frankly gratuitous.

    Furthermore, I cannot but note that you on the one hand have suggested that I refrain from over-using the word “saintly” in the context of rabbis and the adjectives “eloquent” and “articulate” when describing other writers but you appear to have had no similar botherations by my repetitively having described your blog writing as “excellent”. Maybe Emerson had a point when he noted, “Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.”

    On one point I do tend to agree with you and that is that I may have over-posted of late and have thus decided to give your excellent blog a well-earn rest….for a bit.

    Daniel

  53. I am only winding you up, you plonker . . . oops! 😉

    “Dipstick” and “plonker” are references to Del Boy and Only Fools and Horses . . . though you were probably already settling the Greater Land of Israel by the time that came on air.

    You have not “over-posted” and please don’t stop – melchett mike would not be the same without your and Nick’s fascinating, if somewhat inscrutable, exchanges.

    His “Excellen[cy]”
    (Yes, you are correct, I have no objection to that one!)

  54. Nick Kopaloff

    Marks’s defiant stand against your lewdness may seem to you a trifle pompous but as a man of integrity and honor (me), I would expect no less of him. Years back, he took a not too dissimilar stand against the Soviet Union in the fight for the Prisoners of Zion and almost single-handedly, with the help of hundreds of thousands of like-minded activists, saw the fruits of his labor tear down the Iron Curtain.
    In similar fashion, he now battles the bawdiness of your blog. Who but he can prevent the site from plummeting into total debauchery?
    Mike, the apple is the single most popular handheld fruit in the western hemisphere, yet mention of it doesn’t seem to fit in with your bawdy worldview. Had I compared the aforementioned fruit to a large testicle, it would have been more in keeping with the abject lowliness to which recent writings have descended, but there is a limit to the extent that my integrity can be compromised.
    And so without further ado, I have hitherto chosen to add my voice of dissent to that of Marks’s and to boycott the pages of your Caribbean Trip category, while reserving the right to broaden my protest to other sections if need be. I shall desist forthwith from submitting any Caribbean posts but shall continue to monitor future postings for the public good.

  55. One man’s “defiant stand” is another’s pig-headed obstinacy.

    And for you two ageing pervs to make accusations of “lewdness”, when you have defiled the previously unbesmirched pages of melchett mike with your depraved tales (in the case of masturbation) and fantasies (cunnilingus) is rich indeed.

    Marks might have torn down the Iron Curtain, but I assure you that those of melchett mike will not yield to the Settler zeal.

  56. Nick Kopaloff

    Besides serving as a vehicle of expression primarily for Mike but also for the many motley contributors, an added bonus of the blog was to bring people together. Sadly the opposite has been the case in recent days, on and off-blog, as uncalled-for expletives and arbitrary censorship often mismatched by over-sensitivity and self-righteousness, have raised somewhat of a hue and cry – with accusatory fingers being pointed in all directions at the faceless villains.

    With Bolshy ruthlessness, incongruously backed up by a “possession is nine-tenths of the law” argument, Mike has chosen to quash seemingly subversive remarks on his blog. For the record, the foolhardy drivel peddled by Goldman was stupid rather than illicit, and humorless rather than offensive, yet no more so than scores of other uncensored puerile postings, this one excluded. One such that comes to mind was the tasteless metaphor – of wishing to post a letter into the letterbox of an attractive girl, name supplied, of Hasmonean notoriety, familiar no doubt to the eponymous contributor. Not a day goes by where it fails to besmirch the blog. To his credit, in another lewd posting, Mike wasted no time in removing the name of a once young lady of promiscuous repute, who was so inappropriately recalled for posterity by the most inappropriate of people this side of South Dakota.

    But does not the suppression of innocuous non-libelous dissent only sound alarm bells akin to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, or Orwell’s 1984, if not of a kind even more emotive and closer-to-home?

    Queen Anne had taken offense at Jonathan Swift’s writings and so thwarted his advancement within the Church. He exacted vengeance in his inimitable satirical style by having Gulliver urinate on the Empress’s room in Lilliput to put out the fire. With his diminutive hose in hand in Swiftian retribution, the slighted Goldman may try to put out MM’s smoldering embers. But Mike is no Queen and Goldman no fire-fighter and this is surely what the effervescent Marks had in mind with his “penile-penal” poppycock.

  57. My dearest Nicholas,

    Alas, you are mistaken once again! On melchett mike, possession is all of the law (as so “eloquently” explained in About this Blog).

    Nonetheless, my authoritarian rule shall not deter me from extending paternalistic Sabbatical greetings to you and to your fellow dispsticks, my wayward subjects.

    melchett mike the magnanimous

    PS I note, with no little satisfaction, that your threat – in your previous post – “to boycott the pages of [my] Caribbean Trip category” was as empty as it was puerile.

  58. Nick Kopaloff

    Mike,
    Your diligence serves you well, your cynicism does you credit, and I stand corrected.
    I had intended to add my last posting, which to my surprise was not censored, to the Yids vs. Yoks page, but it was inadvertently misrouted along the way.
    Please do not see in my error a lifting of the Caribbean sanction. The boycott still stands and comes back fully into effect today at 22:00 hrs Tel Aviv time.
    I warmly reciprocate your Sabbath greetings though prefer to refrain from hurling derogatory taunts, though respect your authoritarian right to stoop that low if you so choose. While they may be water off the back of this “ageing perv” another “ageing perv” has had his wrath kindled and ire inflamed to the point that he feels the blog has spiraled downward beyond all recognition from its glory days – and is now about as striking as a soup sandwich.

  59. “Inadvertently misrouted” you say, Nicholas? Most curious.

    If melchett mike no longer finds favour in the – no doubt red-rimmed – eyes of your partner in ageing perversion, might I suggest that he redirect his “wrath” and “ire” towards youporn.com, an extremely worthwhile, fulfilling and enjoyable way for him to while away the hours (or at least those in which he is not harassing our poor Palestinian cousins).

    mmm

  60. Shimon Soester

    The last Isaacson-Kopaloff standoff, and its timing, reminded me of a chassidic story (that was never told to us during friday “Mussar drosho” because there is no rich merchant or elderly king in it) . . .

    The story is told of a famous Rebbe who was spotted on shabbat in the rain with an umbrella. Some litvaks attacked the chassidim on the rebbe’s behavior, and they replied that its all kosher, because the rebbe can work miracles. If so, asked the missnagdim, why didn’t he make it rain on his left, rain on his right, but not rain above him? Idiots! answered the chassidim, he did a much greater miracle – on his left side it was shabbat, on his right hand it was shabbat, but above him, he miraculously made it not be shabbat.

    Without going in to too much explanations about the maaris ayin of having a blog make posts seem to have been posted on shabbat,on a blog that has become (to paraphrase the name of the Jewish Tribune) the organ of Hasmoneanism, I would like to quote from one of the most important regulatory codexs of the age of the Technopolin, a near to unknown work of genius called “Email etiquette” written by one D. Marks, a well known lecturer to the elite of Israel’s civil service in Jerusalem:
    “By sending or even forwarding one libelous, or offensive remark in an email, you and your company can face court cases resulting in multi-million dollar (sic) penalties.”

    I think this explains Mike’s censoring of certain comments made by Nick and D.Mark’s namesake.

  61. Nick Kopaloff

    Shimon,
    To publicly and unashamedly suggest that the Isaacson-Kopaloff standoff postings were a profanation of the Sabbath – and then get holier than thou advocating anti-libelous and non-offensive rhetoric is indeed rich.
    While I can match neither your level of frumkeit, nor your Hassidic anecdotes about umbrellas, I rest assured that Rabbi Yitzhak of Berdichev would have chosen not to scrutinize the sins of his flock with a magnifying glass and then relay those transgressions on the Shtetl public address system for all to ridicule or berate. Is not the divide between us big enough already without widening the schism? Was not that how the temple got destroyed?
    But Shimon, our jousting is just whimsical banter which I take lightheartedly with a pinch of salt – unlike Mike – who is still peeved he got overcharged when we went out for a beer and a bite to eat – get over it Mike – move on.
    Please also note that you appear to be mistaken – and to the best of my knowledge, neither Marks nor myself have ever been censored by Comrade Gaffer Mike. The censored posting was by a certain M. Goldman who claimed, in no uncertain terms, that the original Marks and Kopaloff piece on Harrison superseded the Isaacson edited version in spirit and vigor. That was too much for Mike, a well-balanced man – with a chip on each shoulder.

  62. Nicholas, Nicholas, Nicholas . . .

    I knew that that was what was really riling you: the fact that I had to rewrite your semi-illiterate draft on “Woody”.

    I refer you to the verdict of the eavesdropping Itzy Sabo (which you agreed to accept):

    “Verdict: Mike wins . . . Mike’s edited version is much more polished, flowing and complete – in many places he adds names, which lends it more credibility as a historical account, fills in little details that make things clearer for people who did not directly experience Woody’s lessons, and glosses over other details that don’t seem important.”

    Could the imminent onset of the dreaded fifties, together with the sad realisation that your Hasmo ‘education’ didn’t even allow you an unedited post on melchett mike, be prompting this bitterness? (And you omit to mention your telephone admission to me of last week, that Marks was sad enough to put Goldman up to writing . . . who was even sadder to agree.)

    Who is it that needs to “get over it”?!

    Your ever-forgiving editor, Mike

    PS What happened to your self-imposed “22:00 hrs Tel Aviv time” boycott?

  63. Nick Kopaloff

    Mike – and just when I thought you could not stoop any lower…
    While I confirmed your suspicions about Goldman’s postings after your wanton censorship, he was only advised to speak his mind and certainly not to make any false judgments. Yet, in irreverent contradiction of your judicial code, you publicly betrayed a trust. And you call yourself a solicitor. The mention of the only type of soliciting you seem to know would only tarnish the professional reputations of the ladies, gentlemen and convertibles in question. Climb back up to reality. You are up and down like a whores knickers.

  64. You misjudge me, Nicholas . . . I can “stoop” extremely “low”. I am, after all, a lawyer and a Leeds fan, living in “Sin City”. In fact, my credentials couldn’t get much lower!

    But, once again, my foolish friend, you have chosen to ignore the very “code” that you invoke – see the paragraph beneath the photo under About this Blog.

    And, if we are talking professions, I sincerely hope that the chess moves which you impart to your young charges are rather cleverer than your submissions to melchett mike.

    In relation to Mr. Goldman – and your telephone call to me of this morning . . . oops! – it is regrettable that he chooses to rebuke you for breaching his trust . . . rather than himself for having been a mindless muppet.

  65. Daniel Marks

    Having chosen a self-imposed temporary exile from this excellent blog I find no choice but to break my silence and respond to Shimon Semester’s posting of June 7th in which reference was made to “a near to unknown work of genius called “Email etiquette” written by one D. Marks, a well known lecturer to the elite of Israel’s civil service in Jerusalem”.
    Were half the tales told about me on this blog from photographing Cyril in the third form to bringing about the downfall of the Soviet Union in the upper sixth be true, I would indeed have many feathers with which to decorate my bonnet.
    Shimon’s posting is another wild exaggeration, neither am I well known (off this blog) nor are they elite, and as to the aforementioned publication, it was not I who wrote it, but it can be found at http://www.emailreplies.com/ At best I lightly edited it in the way that even a talented Jordan Valley kibbutznik could have done.

  66. Daniel Marks

    A thousand apologies Shimon Soester not Somester – nothing Freudian, just a slip.

  67. Hearing on Sky News, this evening, that a teacher from a school in Nottinghamshire is being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder, following an alleged assault on a pupil, took me back to those administered daily in Holders Hill Road . . .

    Was it perhaps the slight extra protection provided by a Hasmo school cap that saved one of those lunatics from doing time?!

  68. People say that Jews don’t make good footballers because they aren’t natural headers of the ball. Jewish folklore deems the head is a precious thing to be protected. If this is so how come planty of yids have made it big in boxing?

    There was a bespectacled kid I went to school with who had a great fear of heading a football. That was until he donned his school cap, proverbial helmet. Once the cap was on his head, he’d nut anything. It was a perculair transformation. School caps, safer than a Jim Leighton johnny.

  69. Anthony Mammon

    Rabbi Greenberg!!! A real sadist. Well at least I got my last word in with him. I left school on the 1st day of the school year September 1978. After Willy had told me “I was making a wise decision” when I informed him I was leaving school. I went down to get my year end results from Greenberg, who refused to give them to me, and after a lot of delay and waiting, in front of his class, I told him he could go F**K himself. I walked out and that was my last day at Hasmo… Never did get my results, to this day I really have no idea how I did in Lower 6th.

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