For the last few weeks, Rebbetzin Jungreis' column in The Jewish Press has focused on the shidduch problem of "working boys" being viewed as "second class citizens" in the shidduch market*.
This week, she had letters from two young women - one who was looking for a "working boy" and one who was looking for a "learning boy" (while being respectful to workers). However, both girls had one thing in common -- their working fathers were put down to their faces.
The first girl writes (emphasis mine):
Once, my principal accused me of doing some inappropriate things that I would never dream of doing. When I told her that I was raised differently and that my Yiddishkeit meant too much to me to ever participate in the activities she accused me of, she said that she would expect such behavior from me because I was "not a good girl" as I unfortunately "come from a working family." Even more hurtful was when I was told to "not lower myself to my father's level" by marrying a working guy even if he would devote time to Torah.
The second girl had a similar experience when applying for seminary:
I was not prepared for the hurt that was inflicted upon me. The person who interviewed me questioned me about my parents' professions and their heavy work schedules, and then went on to make some very unkind, critical remarks which I prefer not to repeat because, a) it's too hurtful and b) it would be disrespectful to my parents. I left the interview shattered and broke down in tears. I later found out that I was not the only one who had been reduced to tears – other girls were equally mistreated and put to shame.
What the hell is going on here? It's one thing to extol a learning lifestyle, but it's quite another thing to bash a young person's father in front of their face! We're not talking about men who are murderers, tax cheats, rapists or other social and/or criminal misanthropes. We're talking about fine, upstanding human beings who daven every day, go to work each day, probably set aside times to learn Torah, are shomrei Torah U'Mitzvos and obviously feel that their daughters' Torah education is worth the huge monetary investment that they make in it. And what do they get for their money? The administration teaches their kids that they are "on a lower level" and that the home is obviously not a good home. They feel that such people are open game for ridicule and harassment -- and not just behind their backs but to their kids' faces!
I'm also left to wonder about these teachers/administrators who make these remarks. How could these people possibly be allowed to be in chinuch? How can a teacher possibly teach the mitzvah of honoring your parents at one moment and at in the next belittle a child's parent to their face? How do we allow people who obviously have no idea what the mitzvah of lashon hara means to teach our children the halachos of that very mitzvah? How can any school (public, private, parochial... it doesn't matter) allow any teacher to have contact with kids when they destroy the most important things in the lives of those kids -- namely their parents? How dare they! Just who the hell do they think they are?!
I, apparently, wasn't aware of the famous "working father" exception to the mitzvah of kibbud av. I certainly didn't know of the well-known halacha that one is only not allowed to say lashon hara about kollel families. Silly me... I didn't realize that intentionally harming the psyche of a young person was permitted when the target of the attack doesn't spend eight hours in the beis midrash every day. I must have been out working the day they taught those halachos.
If this is the case, I don't know how any working family can send their kids to such a school. It would serve the schools right to have every working family pull out of the school (after all, why send your daughter to a school where she's going to be taught to view you with scorn and disrespect). Let's see the school try to financially survive without the very people that they are harming.
* Yes, I used the term market. That's what it's become, IMHO.