Hasmo Legends XVIII: The Birds and the Mrs. B

With the notable exception of the contribution by the lovely Sue Schneider, Hasmo Legends and the comments thereon have – perhaps in keeping with some of the more unlovely interpretations of our religion – been rather male-dominated.

This may be some reflection of the fact that – as partially evidenced by the multitude of (invariably pasty) sprogs which they produced – most of Hasmonean’s Jewish Studies teachers viewed women as things to be fertilised and then (rather ironically, as they were the only ones who needed to be locked up) chained to the kitchen sink.

Indeed, Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld’s legendary school assembly addresses always seemed to contain a warning about the dangers of the opposite sex or of the prohibition against dressing up as one of their number (even on Purim). And, with the exception of a one-off upstairs (girls) downstairs (boys) Chanukah assembly at Kinloss – at which a request to turn over the page led to several minutes of paper rustling (demonstrating that Hasmo girls had the same wonderfully advanced sense of humour as ourselves) – any fraternising between Hasmo boys and girls was strictly forbidden.

Not that many of us showed any interest in Hasmo girls anyway . . . which was more than a little surprising when one considers the teenage male’s perpetual state of sexual arousal and the fact that Hasmonean Grammar School for Girls – representing the only Jewish “skirt” in the area – was little more than ten minutes’ walk away.

I think not.

Our indifference was probably the result of a particularly unappealing school uniform – according to a reliable ex-Hasmo “sauce”, the girls were even required to wear maroon school knickers (not pictured right) during PE – or due to the fact that, whenever a Hasmo girl opened her mouth, she just sounded so Golders Green. Indeed, one can always spot an ex-Hasmo girl by the elongated vowel sounds and incorrect grammar – “Whoo are you eating/daaavening byyyy?” – not to mention the sad inability to escape (usually physically, but always psychologically) the ‘ghetto’.

Sex education at Hasmo Boys was virtually non-existent, with the school library and syllabi censored of any material hinting that human beings might perhaps copulate for purposes other than the purely reproductive. This made the teaching of English Literature and Human Biology at the institution particularly challenging. The first I heard about “the birds and the bees” was from my next-door neighbour, Graham, over a game of table tennis (see melchett mike’s Loss of Innocence), and it was not until well into my mid-teens that I first managed to tickle some tonsils, a sad fact that I still blame on Hasmonean.

So, it came as some surprise when, in the early eighties, the fairer (they could hardly have been unfairer) sex slowly started infiltrating Hasmo’s staffroom. The reasons for this sudden influx of female teachers remain shrouded in mystery, though one credible theory is that following the relocation of the male victims of Mrs. Thatcher’s Care in the Community policy – which entailed the closure of so many Victorian mental institutions – there were just no more suitable male candidates available.

Notwithstanding certain commenters’ lascivious references to the (mythical?) daughter of Mr. Tompkins, the school caretaker, Hasmo’s pin-up girl was undoubtedly Suzanne Stern. And the young, willowy Economics teacher (see photograph below) – who always left a refreshing trail of perfume in her wake in the otherwise fetid school corridors – succeeded in arousing in Hasmo boys a sudden, miraculous interest in the Law of Diminishing Returns.

Not surprisingly perhaps, Mrs. Stern was also the unwitting trigger of numerous teenage pranks. On one occasion, a particularly gullible Persian boy – who, together with his family, had escaped the Iranian Revolution, merely exchanging the tyranny of the Ayatollahs for that of Hasmo’s Rabbis – was informed that a Valentine’s card forged in his name had been placed on Mrs. Stern’s windscreen (which of course it hadn’t). The entire class rubbed (for once only) its hands with glee as the boy, in heavy Farsi, pleaded with the bewildered blonde: “Mrs. Stern! Mrs. Stern! It wasn’t me who wrote the Valentine’s card.”

Economics A-level with Suzanne Stern, 1985: (from left) Shuli Meyers, Daniel Kelly, Marc Reiss and Yoel Kahn (who seems to think he is in a Gemorah class)

Whilst not sharing culpability for the chronic tendonitis of so many middle-aged ex-Hasmos, French teacher Marion Rosenberg did at least have a ballad dedicated to her . . . though the lyrics of Rosey, Rosey (to the tune of Daisy Bell) are not printable even on these pages.

Mrs. Rosenberg would often exit our lessons in tears – I am sure that there will always be a part of her subconscious inhabited by her bête noir, Eric Elbaz – though her cause was not helped by a penchant for multiplying punishments in accordance with the Principle of Geometric Progression and for continually confiscating pupils’ belongings (her son, with whom I was in Bnei Akiva, would report to me on weekends on his newly-acquired secondhand goodies!)

One thing that I can certainly never claim is that Hasmonean failed to prepare me for my own current bêtes noires: Israeli women. No, the school’s humourless Modern Hebrew duo, Mesdames Moller and Moore, provided more than ample notice of all the trouble I would encounter in later life. The pair had all the charm of . . . well, of two religious Israeli women. And the only thing that makes me smile when recalling either of them is the information, again from my aforementioned “sauce”, that Chana Moore used to sign her name “ח.מור”. Anyhow, I am confident that they are both now more suitably employed by El Al at Heathrow, either in security – fully equipped with rubber gloves – or in providing a broomstick shuttle service to departure gates.

Another female who must have questioned her sanity in joining the “funny farm” that was Hasmonean Grammar School for Boys was French teacher, Shirley Samuels. Alan Hyam Bloomberg, aka Cyril, took such a violent dislike to her – merely because she had the temerity to set her own examination (incidentally, for her own class) – that, for the remainder of her time at the school, he only ever referred to her as “the wretched Mrs. Samuels” (which Cyril, in his own inimitable way, pronounced “Sam-u-els”).

Hasmonean’s Latin teacher, Mrs. Shapiro, is also best remembered for her examinations . . . not because she dared to defy Cyril, but because the results always rivalled Norwegian Eurovision Song Contest entries for most “nil points”. One such zero, my old mate Joey Garfinkel – never one for the convincing excuse – memorably attempted to explain away his total failure to “trouble the scorers” by claiming that he had suffered a problem with his contact lenses, a story no less feeble than Bernie Madoff telling his investors that he had only wanted enough to take his missus to the Hamptons for the weekend.

Hasmonean’s excellence in Latin was matched only by its preeminence at Geography. Following the departure of Jonny Denham in the late seventies, an escaped clown by the name of Joe Paley had been holding court, introducing overhead projections of African tribes with the insightful words: “These, my boys, are schvartzes.”

At some point in the early to mid eighties, however, Hasmo’s Headmaster Rabbi Roberg, never slow to miss a trick, burst into action, making the inspired decision that his school needed a Geography teacher who actually knew something about the subject. Alas, the overlong reign of King Joe had ensured that the arrival of Cynthia Toledano – Hasmo’s second full-time female teacher (after Sue Schneider), but about whom I only recall a couple of things – was far too late for any of our year to have a future in the subject.

The wonderfully named Mrs. Kadoo was the Asian lab assistant who appeared to model her hair on Basil Brush’s tail. Whilst I can still hear Mr. Joughin calling her name in his familiar drone, I don’t believe that I ever heard Mrs. Kadoo herself utter a word. Witnessing the daily antics in Hasmonean’s science laboratories – not least those of Flop and Steve Posen (never mind the ever delightful attitude of DJ) – she had probably lost the ability to speak (not to say the will to live). Either that, or the Hasmo powers that were had resolved that the best way of keeping lab assistants at the school for more than a fortnight was by only employing mutes (Flop’s miserable gimp, Michael, was the other).

It was with Hasmo’s little old Cockney dinner lady, Mrs. Bannister, however, that boys were most keen to ingratiate themselves. After all, it was Mrs. B who dished out the much-coveted Friday soya rolls (though also the retch-inducing meat loaf processed from offal which, submerged beneath its coagulated gravy, you wouldn’t fob off on your Lithuanian cleaner). Assuming the guise of Jewish Olivers, we would always request an extra roll . . . though in the full knowledge that it would be met with a shrill, apoplectic “You know you are only allowed two!” (indeed, with the daily wind-ups that Mrs. B was subjected to, the miracle was that she never let slip the odd East End “Now f*ck right orff!”)

The Hasmonean school office was staffed by the lovely Ruth Hepner and the slightly irascible (though who could blame her?) Mrs. Saul-David. And affably attempting to maintain a semblance of order, in the dinner hall especially, was School Officer Mrs. Koohl, a curious addition to Hasmo’s staff whose job description was no less shadowy than that of Harvey Keitel’s Wolf character in Pulp Fiction. Indeed, the title of Pushing-In Prevention Officer would have represented a far more accurate description of her seemingly limited duties.

Now that’s more like it!

Anyway, school kapels – if not knickers – off to all the female Hasmo staff who braved the nuthouse and who, for the most part, provided welcome relief from the excesses of the male loons who roamed its corridors and terrorised its classrooms.

[As with all Hasmo Legends, I welcome the memories and comments of ex-Hasmos of all generations. In relation to Hasmo ‘girls’, however, please be sure to keep them chaste . . . or, if not chaste, then at the very least true! And, should you wish to pen your own Hasmo Legend, be in touch.]

Economics A-level with Suzanne Stern, 1985: (from left) Joey Garfinkel, Yoel Kahn, Jonathan Dubiner, Daniel Kelly, (from top) Martin Hakimian, Binyomin Morris, Marc Reiss, Meyer Meyer, Shuli “Gay Basher” Meyers and (right) Daniel Vecht

Next on Hasmo Legends, Part XIX: The Return of the Rotter-in-Chief

63 responses to “Hasmo Legends XVIII: The Birds and the Mrs. B

  1. Daniel Marks

    I congratulate the author of this excellent blog for another absorbing page. He and I were at Hasmonean during slightly different eras (I was 1972-1979) and for that and other reasons, our memories are different.

    During the seventies there were some extremely attractive Hasmonean girls and both “the Bell” and Golders Green Station, as well as other lesser known locations served as convenient rendezvous spots. No names will be mentioned nor shall more details be given. Any youngsters reading this page and wanting to know whether their mothers or grandmothers were among the conquests of Nick Kopaloff are invited to contact him directly. If they have similar questions regarding Ellis Feigenbaum or Michael Goldman, let them be assured that the answer is a categorical no.

    Miss Krolick was an English teacher who (I believe) began to teach at HGS around 1972 and was at the time the only staff member belonging to the fairer sex. However, let not the reader imagine that her minority status made her either unnoticeable or inconspicuous.

    Miss Krolick was a highly substantial lady and an educational heavyweight who could tip the scales even against the likes of Rabbi Greenberg.

    Rumor has it, that she was being courted by Mr. Heller, music master and giver of free lessons extraordinaire, and that the two were cozily shacked up in rented accommodation, courtesy of the Feigenbaum family.

    Miss Krolick was our first form English teacher. She was a fun lady, but unremarkable pedagogue.

  2. Daniel Greenspan

    Hasmonean in the ’80s was summed up thus:
    “In every other school, they were learning about ‘Safer Sex’. In Hasmonean, we were learning about ‘Sayfer Torah'”.

  3. Chana moore is still at hasmo

  4. I remember our sex education classes in 1984. Liam Joughin, with a badly-hidden exasperated look on his face asked “certain boys” to leave the class – clearly something was pre-arranged by their parents – in order that we could begin the double period that contained the entire Hasmonean sex-education syllabus.

    We learned that copulation was necessary for fertilization of ova in mammals, and how the embryo (not foetus) developed in the uterus, leading finally to birth. I think our classes on assexual reproduction in non-flowering plants the following week was more explicit.

    Despite HIV/AIDS, we learned nothing of erections, orgasms, ejaculations or condoms. Rumour has it at Haberdashers’ you learned all that with Mr Clulow in one day! Well, praps not the condoms part.

    Anyone know what dinner ladies are called now? MTS anyone?


  5. Great post Mike, as always, and I see you decided to play it safe on certain aspects, very wise indeed may I say.

    On an entirely unrelated note, what an iconic picture, looks like something out of a classic film, The Graduate or something of that ilk!

    Does anyone remember a fairly short-term American, or perhaps Canadian geography teacher called Mrs Palmer (circa 1981-2), well before Mrs Toledano? She used to reprimand our class with “Gennelmen….fuuuurst yeaaar….1 L EEE-EEE !!! …..”

    She also repeatedly referred to Rabbi Roberg as “The Rabbi” – one consequence of which was that when she threw the lout Platt out of the class with instructions to report to “The Rabbi”, he burst in on a bemused Rabbi Angel’s art class, with most of the geography class in tow, all of us crying tears of mirth.

    As you’re posting about the female staff in general, worth perhaps a quick cross-reference to Chich, and his self-appointed role as Defender of the Damsels in Distress: much has been said about this before, but it remains as hilarious a phenomenon as ever!

  6. Yes, Dan, I partake in Friday morning brunch with the son of one of the named. And I considered reference to the worry of dozens of middle-aged Golders Greeners – that they might soon start losing their sight because of his mother – as being in extremely poor taste.

  7. i can assure you that we did not need to wear the above underwear! I am infact nearly positive that underwear was not a requirement at all. In which case -you hasmo boys may have made a biiiiiig mistake not having befriended us Hasmo chicks.

  8. no fraternising – yeah right!! the 240 bus was the perfect place to meet you Hasmo boys. Princes Park Avenue too. WHere there was a will there was a way!! then we spent all day at Hasmo Girsl daydreaming about the hot boys we thought we saw. Of course, looking back, you were all bespectacled and pimpled gangly young men. But we were cloistered in an all girls school so any male was worthy of our consideration.

  9. The only reason that ex-Hasmo girls “did not need to wear underwear” was because nobody wanted to get into it!

    Only kidding, anaomynous. And before you get some pervy old ex-Hasmo asking you whether you were wearing any undies while you were writing that comment . . . well, were you?!

  10. Daniel Greenspan

    With the ‘no underwear’ revelation (pun!), the Patent Leather Shoes Edict suddenly seems marginally less ridiculous.
    The connection to 7-11 still eludes me, though!

  11. If you have to tell us it’s a pun…

  12. Mike, the story about the Valentine Card – now that brings back memories – couldnt stop laughing for a week!!.

    Nice to see you included a picture of the 3 hottest studs that ever came out of the school

  13. Don’t forget the biggest homophobe!

  14. This post is not complete without a mention of Judy Falk. She was an excellent history teacher and the initial cause of my love for the subject. I understand that she left Hasmo for the King Solomon School in Ilford where her husband became headmaster and she managed to take Mr Joughin with her.

  15. Would it be legitimate to discuss the character of Richard Rosten on this excellent page about female teachers?

    Richard Rosten was an excellent Jewish Studies teacher and while he could not be considered to be a lady in the strictest sense of the word, doubts, which later turned out to be wholly unfounded, were raised regarding his sexual identity and preferences.

  16. Nice that someone mentioned Mrs Falk, a really talented and capable history teacher (far too sane and pleasant a human being for the Hasmo staff) , who rescued my, and my classmates’ A-level grades when parachuted in, circa 1987/88 for our Upper Sixth only, after our shambolic Lower VI under the short-lived reign of Lorna “Granny” Oakes.

    While on the subject, anyone remember the Great Granny herself? A well-meaning, but batty old fossil of a woman, with precious few teeth of her own to render her speech intelligible, and in a quite worrying state of physical decay generally. How we loved to ask her when the Versailles Treaty was signed (“Ninecheen-ninecheen”). Her history teaching seemed to rely so heavily on her personal memories of World War I.

    When she finally hung up her clogs, Rabbi Roberg muttered in assembly:

    “Ummm – Mrs Oakes is leaving at the end of this year…….errrr…..if any of you ever visit the British Museum, go and look in the archives, and you’ll find her there ……[dramatic pause]…………….where she’ll be working as an archivist.”

  17. Howard Singer

    Those historians lucky enough to have had the benefit of Mrs Falk’s teaching must have known that her father was none other than the illustrious WW Stanton MA (Oxon).

    I always wondered why she never married a Hasmo boy.

  18. Technical correction it was some Irish lady that served lunch with Mrs B. Now if anyone remembers her name that would be an achievement. I still laugh when anyone does the Mrs B “geeeet Baaaack”

  19. Yitzchak Landau

    I would definitely concur with the comments about Mrs Falk. A really great teacher who had that all too rare (in Hasmonean at any rate) ability to make a subject interesting whilst managing to maintaining a modicum of decorum at the same time – quite a contrast from the lunacy of Alan Walters and the boredom of Mr Johnson.

    Does anyone else remember a maths teacher called Mrs Caveen who taught in the school for a couple of years from c. 1981/2. She was probably in her 40’s and from somewhere up north which of course meant that some considerable time and effort was spent trying to get her to say certain words and phrases in her northern accent – “half past one” was a particular favourite for some reason, as I recall.

    She was a pretty good teacher and a nice person with it. She wasn’t Jewish but I remember her carrying around a book on Chanuka as she tried to gain a genuine understanding of Jewish culture (in Hasmo!!) and what we were all about.

  20. Great Post Mike! Ah the memories of stories told over the dinner table…Mrs Toledano with her ample attributes, imitations of Mrs Moller….

    Curiously, I had no clue that fraternizing was strictly forbidden. I had brothers in Hasmo boys. They had friends who came over all the time. But no, we didn’t fraternize. We coldly ignored each other while I ran to my girlfriends to dish on the latest crush. A simple look or a “get lost” got translated into “he really likes me”.

    On the flip side, my friends came over to ignore my brothers….and BH we are all happily married now, so it didn’t do us much harm.

    and BTW Mike, not all of us Hasmo Girls talk like that….I certainly don’t.

  21. There was also an Israeli lady called Mrs Yehuda who taught Nach in Yeshiva Stream – hours of entertainment created by her frequent assertions that

    “zee king of Eeezrael, ‘ee is wanting to make piss wiz ze king of Ashur……….”

    Hey Sabo, never mind Mrs Moller – isn’t “Chaza” Moore your auntie????

  22. Often, the item in a post that I think will get the most reaction gets none. In my last post, it was “strap-on protuberance”. And, in this one, the photo of Shuli . . . the would be gay-killer of Golders Green.

    Funny old thing, blogging . . .

  23. Dan Gins. firstly, what is it with you blokes calling each other by their surnames? My kids’ friends all call up asking for the kids by their last name, how the frig am I supposed to know which one they want??!!

    not related by blood.

  24. OK Fine, Mrs Moore is indeed married to my uncle.

  25. A brave admission, Hadassah!

  26. thanks Mike for not calling me SABO

  27. Hadassah

    It came from the teachers at Hasmo boys, who with a very few sane execptions, all did the surname thing. But in the girls’ school, first names prevailed, producing some great anomalies.

    Mordechai Hool and Michael Drucker had once walked over to Golders Green from Kingsbury with their respective sisters, on a long summer shabbos afternoon. They dropped the girls off at Nachum Ordman’s house, to visit his daughter.

    After socialising with the guys, they returned to Nachum’s, to collect their sisters for the long walk home. “Ilana and Sandra…….”, Nachum beckoned them, “……Hool and Drucker are here to collect you……………..”

  28. On the first day of our first form, first names were ingloriously incarcerated for the duration of our seven years sentence. Mr Gothold asked a lad, “What is your name?”
    “Harry, sir.” The lad replied.
    “I’m not interested in your first name boy! What is your name?”
    “Oh sorry, sir. Wald, sir.”
    And that was it. Henceforth I was Marks, Nick was Kopaloff and only those frummers fortunate enough to have nicknames such as Yikki or Tzruli, were occasionally referred to otherwise.

    Naturally, we took our leads from our masters and began to call each other by family names.

    That is the simple explanation as to why many of us to this day use family names.

  29. I have to agree with Hadassah on this one. Surname-calling is horrid, and there is no excuse for it 10/20/30 years after leaving Hasmo. Whilst I understand the causes/origins, to continue the practice is a sign of the ‘ghetto’ mentality of the user . . . and an indication that he/she needs to make Aliyah!

  30. I am confident that the author of this excellent blog understood that my intent in the above posting was to construe rather than to exonerate the phenomena or pass value judgement in its regard.

    As far as Mike’s presumption that the air of Eretz Yisrael would cure the surname-callers of their ailment, I have my doubts.

    My youngest Ariel has a best friend who, by chance, shares his first name. While we are the Markses, he belongs to the much respected Shoemacher clan.

    Their school chums refer to them Marks and Shoemacher in order to distinguish between them. However, to my dismay they have adopted the habit too and the other Ariel has been known to call our house at varying times of day and to ask to speak to “Marks”.

    Similarly in reserves almost everyone called me Marks, and with the passing of years it even became the way I would introduce myself to new comrades in arms. Many were quite baffled at the eventual realization that I had another name too.

  31. Yitzchak Landau

    Talking of surnames and Hools, I remember Jon Hool, of future (at the time) head boy fame, receiving a detention slip from Alan Walters which read “Dear Rabbi and Mrs Hool, this is to inform you that your son HOOL will be kept in school . . . . etc”. I’m not sure he ever did the dentention, but the slip itself was produced on occasion, to much hilarity.

  32. Anthony Mammon

    Alas I left school before most of you and only remember Miss Krolick, who I do believe was involved with Mr Heller. Mrs B, well everyone remembers her. I thank Daniel Marks for bringing up Randy Rosten, I’d forgoten about him. I remember that we were expecting school inspectors to come around the school, and he informed us that should they visit our class, if he asked any questions, those who knew the answer should raise their right hand, and those who didn’t should raise their left hand. I also remember Rosten beating the crap out of Max Witriol once, after Max, jokingly asked him why he had come in late to class. Tell me was it only at Hasmo that this nonsense went on?
    Great picture of Suzanne Stern, looks like a typical Hasmo scene, teacher discussing a problem with student, and everyone else just clowning around….

  33. Mike – what a great post ! – laughed out so loud, my wife & kids came by to see what was so funny. Couldn;t really explain it to them – since they are not of Hasmo blood – anyway I digress.
    I have an interesting memory of doing my French Oral CSE with Mrs Samuels – with my exam being taped on cassette to be sent off. One question was about getting undressed or dressed for bed – I did not understand the question – so she pretended to undo her dress buttons whilst repeating the question. I finally got it (the question that is) – but that is something I will never forget 🙂

  34. Greetings Anthony Mammon!

    I don’t have any first hand data about th Krolick-Heller enigma but the evergreen Kopaloff told me, a few days ago, of an occasion when they were “caught at it”. Maybe he will provide more details. Also I believe that the legendary Ellis Feigenbaum may be able to provide testimony to corroborate the story.

    Regarding Rosten there are many a tale to tell. I remember before he left, him telling us never to fear being called a hypocrite regarding Judaism.

    He explained that nobody keeps everything and so there’s always the possibility of someone saying, “Why do you do X if you don’t keep Y.” He explained that to be wholly consistent you have to either do everything or nothing and while the first is almost impossible, the second is wholly undesirable (and maybe impossible too).

    At the time it didn’t seem so clever, but his words of advice have been a faithful companion over the years.

  35. Surname calling originates in the ‘great’ English public school, where the tradition was (and is) to refer to all boys by their surnames and to distinguish between family members with the words “Major”, “Minor” and “Minimus”. I don’t know what they do with more than three brothers but I would guess it’s usually evident from the context.

    Interestingly, it is the one example of chukat hagoy that no one tried to obliterate at Hasmo. Remember, that DJ warned us against going to Seven-Eleven on the basis that we would “become entangled in the tentacles of the sitra achra.”

    I began Hasmo in the fourth year and I will never forget Joughin (surname) calling the 4J register:

    Abramowicz, Aisenthal, Becker, Broza, Cohen, Cohen, Cohen, Conway etc.

    I don’t remember his ever telling us which was whom but we always answered in the same order.


  36. Oy Mike,

    Please delete the comma after “Remember” in the second sentence of the second paragraph of my post about surnames. And then please delete THIS post.

    Ta nicely.

  37. Maybe also add a first person singular pronoun before the word Remember and then decapitalize the r.

    Also please change “no one tried” from Past Simple to Present Perfect Simple, namely by the insertion of the word “has” between “one” and “has”. This is of course assuming that there is still a possibility for change in the aforementioned custom.

    You may also want to look at the phrase, “which was whom” – perhaps “who was who” would be simpler?

  38. Anthony and Mark, your respective tales about left/right hand raising for the school inspectors and Mrs. Samuels pretending to unbutton her dress are classic, saying so much about the place!

    Regarding the “bafflement” of Marks’s fellow miluimnikim “at the eventual realization that [he] had another name too”, I am willing to swear on John Demjanjuk’s life that I have never spread “Dipstick” beyond the pages of this (excellent) blog.

    And, Jeremy, what do I do now? If I were to delete your post, Daniel’s subsequent one would then lack context (though it would still not be funny), creating an even greater quandary than before. But, were I to delete both, the 25 minutes that it took Daniel to write – precious time spent avoiding learning Torah – would have been completely wasted. Please advise.

  39. Well Daniel’s comment is fucking hilarious (as well as mostly correct), so you can’t delete it now, obviously. But you did say you were going to delete sequential posts, so you’d be in a quandary now even if it weren’t so funny.

    Git Shabbes to all


  40. “Great picture of Suzanne Stern, looks like a typical Hasmo scene, teacher discussing a problem with student”

    Are you sure he’s not staring down her dress???
    I know that certain boys may have been a tad ‘repressed’, but what an opportunity!!!

  41. Of course he’s looking down her dress. He is a sixteen(ish) year old lad. Probably a virgin too.

  42. In defence of my old Menorah Primary and Hasmo classmate, Yoel Kahn, I am 42 and not entirely virginal . . . but never miss the opportunity of a breast peek!

  43. Quite right, Mike.
    There are certain standards that need to be upheld.
    (or even uplifted)

  44. I distinctly recall the time when Mrs B’s teeth fell into a pot of either gravy or soup and without flinching, she put her hand into the vessel, fished them out and stuck them back in her mouth.

    I stood there flabergasted (and strangely averse to lunch).

  45. my biggest regret is not taking economics a level!

  46. Found this on an old Elton John album when I was about 15 – guess who I thought it was written about?

  47. Mrs. Rosenberg?

    Shocked to hear that there was an audio avoydoh zoroh in the Gins household.

    The album must have belonged to . . . no, surely not?! 😉

  48. Mike – I have more than one sibling, as anyone remotely connected with the Israeli pharamceuticals industry will be aware….. although I couldn’t possibly say which preferred Elton J, and which was more the Queen fanatic!

    I don’t actually remember Mrs Rosenberg.

  49. Queen?!

    So, whichever way you look it, your siblings were glam rockers.

    Talk about adding oil to the fire!

  50. I’m somewhat surprised to read such positive feedback on Mrs Falk. I personally found her to be a mediocre teacher, not encouraging students to read around the subject nor injecting any kind of love of learning history into her teaching. She was also prone to having favourites, which I always believed influenced her marking of essays…

  51. Anyone want to start a blog on Hasmo girls?

  52. I recall few who wanted to start with Hasmo girls themselves, so we should consider the possibility unlikely.

    Seriously however, I recently discovered that a colleague at work used to teach in the girls’ school. I could not resist, but to ask her if she had taught our lady friends of that era. We exchanged several minutes of delicious 70s gossip. She seemed to thoroughly endorce my choices, though I suspect her wanting another course next semseter and to curry favor may have had something to do with it too.

    The same lady (CF) recently bemoaned a particularly linguistically disfavored gentleman and in desperation said, “Daniel, I don’t know what to do with him. I think I might have to give him an oral.” Perhaps” I replied “But I’m not sure that even that will do the trick.”

  53. I think not, hasmo girl. From my experience, apart from their peculiar diction, including the elongation of the last word of each sentence – “Where are you going tooooo? Who are you davening byyyyyyyy?” – there is very little of interest to be said about the Hasmo girl. (Having said that, I understand from friends of my late brother that the Hasmo Girls of the late 60s/early 70s was rather different . . . and its girls less frumpy.)

    For me, the best thing about Hasmo Girls was the wonderful Wendy Lederman – whom, incidentally, I bumped into in Jerusalem last week – whose private tuition succeeded where everyone else’s (including Jack Ordman’s) had failed . . . in getting me through a maths exam, and even an ‘A’ in the O-level. (As a retired teacher, feeling commendable solidarity with her former colleagues, Wendy disapproves of Hasmo Legends . . . so hopefully this will put me back in her “good books”! ;-))

  54. That is a general religious women’s thing and Israeli-born ladies who have never heard of Hasmonean, can be heard saying, “Shabbat Shal-o-o-om!” etc. The stretching of the syllable is their way of saying that they really mean it and that they wish they could think of something else to say to prolong the conversation, but they can’t, so goodbye.”

    No Hasmonean female, to the best of my recollection ever asked me where I daven, but one (SJ) chucked me when I was 13 telling me she wanted to just be, “good friends”. I haven’t heard from her since. If that’s how she treats her good friends, G-d help her bad ones.

  55. “Notwithstanding certain commenters’ lascivious references to the (mythical?) daughter of Mr. Tompkins, the school caretaker,”

    Mr Tomkin’s daughter mythical?? You’re joking, right? She was stunning, absolutely gorgeous.

  56. I have added a further photograph of the lovely Suzanne Stern and (less lovely) pupils to the bottom of the above post (click on it to enlarge). It was “found,” by (the also lovely) Joey Garfinkel, “during Pesach cleaning” . . . though I reckon he figured 27 years in his wallet was quite enough!

    While on the subject of Hasmo females, I shared last Shabbos/Chag lunch with a current Hasmo Girl – in Year 11 (our 5th Form) – who enquired of her Israeli cousin, in the process of applying to study Medicine:

    “Can you become a Doctor with that?”

    So, with all the improvements at the ‘new’ Hasmonean, its careers service might still require a bit of work!

    The question reminded me of the very sage advice given by a ‘teacher’ to the parents of a friend at our 6th Form careers evening (circa 1984), the purpose of which was discussion of pupils’ choice of undergraduate study. On informing the prophet in question – identity not recalled – that Joe was considering Computer Science, Mr. and Mrs. Winer were met with the very certain:

    “No . . . there is no future in that.”

  57. http://www.bbk.ac.uk/its/hafvm/staff/sessional/index_html/oakes

    Just had to share this link….”Oakesy” looked about 90 when teaching us in 1986-87 – that would make her approx 115 now, and still going strong, kein’eine hora !!

  58. Just had to share with Melchett Mike readers…….my daughter came home from Hasmo today having just started Year 7 (=”first year”), and on her exercise book, the following:

    “Name: Shoshana Gins

    Subject: Ivrit

    Teacher: Mrs Moore”

  59. I trust you’re going to tell Shoshana to mark her homeworks for “Chana” ח.מור

  60. She just can’t believe that ANYONE who taught me, can still be singing outside of the Choir Invisible !

  61. Jonathan Burg

    Well, I can share my memories of a long journey to school from my Dad who didn’t mind helping going to Golders Green or occasionally Hendon in his blue van, and other similarly miraculous automobiles.

    Waiting for the 240, was always a lottery, On one occasion Mrs Koohl (though I am not sure she spelt her name like that) stopped in her sleek silver/grey VW Scirrocco and said “jump in”. This was great – she definitely had the fastest car in the entire playground/car park.

    After dropping her daughter (who was slightly older than me and in retrospect really quite attractive) at school/college, she just floored it up Parson Street at full tilt, and that was a fast lift.

    That car could -move- . I have no idea what she did in the school, but if I ever needed a getaway driver she’d be No.1 on my call-list. A gesture like that would never happen today.

    Otherwise…the Lab Technicians room was the place to hang out. Mrs Kadoo worked alongside Pete, who knew everything about anything mechanical or electronic, and with whom we could talk about computers, technology and things which only a few years later changed the world. I learnt more there about computers and integration than in any science lesson or computer lesson, and that gave me a huge headstart when I went into it professionally later.

    There was another friendly lab tech who worked there for a while, a Jewish lady from Kingsbury who’s name I can’t remember. To this day, a story she told us after Pesach one year leaves me smiling. Picture the Seder table, whole family seated. Youngest child asks the 4 questions and then adds one….”Grandma, Grandma, do you like it when Grandpa does it with you?”. Grandma then dutifully says “why, yes, thank you”. And then the Seder continued along…..

  62. Was Mrs Coulle, Jon

    Somewhat ill-defined duties as “school officer”


  63. Pingback: Hasmo Legends XXVIII: AHB Unplugged | melchett mike

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