03 September 2007

More on Shmirat Ha-lashon

B'H, cool yiddishe mama now has two new jobs, when a little over a month ago, I was seriously worried about my parnasah. I resigned from the Talmud Torah where I had worked for eight years because 1) I was not happy with the changes he had made to my schedule and 2) he hired as his assistant someone who I KNOW is not a good person for me to work for because she tried to ruin my teaching career six years ago (however, there's more tongue-wagging about an alleged affair between herself and a rabbi, while they were still married to other people). During the week, I'll be working as an aide at a day school every afternoon. Sundays, I'll still be teaching Hebrew, at a Reform congregation known until recently as being the most "classically" Reform in their outlook. All this changed, when the new rabbi and his wife, the religious school director, came on board. Both places have nice, professional people and I am pleased to call these people my colleagues. However, recently, I have heard a couple "slips of the tongue" by people that are bound by confidentiality in their jobs.

1) My mother-in-law is a receptionist in a local doctor's office (and it should be said that we do not have the best relationship, but that is another story). One day, she was checking in (or out) a patient and randomly asked the mother ("Lisa") if she works. It turns out that "Lisa" works at my Sunday job and this was mentioned to her. Later on, she told cool yiddish papa (her son) that she met someone at the doctor's office with kids the same age as ours who will be working with me on Sundays. Sure enough, "Lisa" approached me at the teacher orientation after seeing my name on my name tag (we have a very unusual name) and told me that my mother-in-law told her to look for me. On the surface, this could seem like a cute story of people playing Jewish geography. To me, though, I wouldn't want my doctor's receptionist discussing me with her family. All of us sign that paper when we go to the doctor, assuring us that our privacy will be assured. (Of course, it is an entirely different thing when one runs into another person in the waiting room and they start schmoozing.) I guess it reminds me of going to the mikvah...there's an unwritten rule that we not talk about who we see there (perhaps alluding to knowing what will happen later at home) and being discreet about it with others.

2) This second case pains me even more as this was a teacher ("Miriam") in cool yiddishe maidel's class. Last Sunday, she was in one of our restaurants and started speaking to a friend of mine, currently a server there and formerly a janitor at the school before he injured his back. "Miriam" started telling the most horrible things (not clear if it was true or untrue) about one of her students and their family (and using real names), thinking that my friend cared. When he said that he was not interested in hearing it, she found his boss' wife (a friend of hers) and continued the story, loud enough for friend (and several patrons) to overhear. I told my friend that she was not allowed to do that. Teachers, also, are bound by confidentiality, which includes not discussing students with non-professionals. [Of course, I can report abuse if I know about it, but I can't talk about the tzarot of a friend of mine whose son happens to be in my class at the day school. I could lose a friend and a job...not worth it on either count.]

What bothers me even more with this teacher is that a teacher is bound to uphold school values in their daily conduct. It's an easy stretch to say that a school which promotes Torah values should expect their teachers to do the same. [Since this teacher is not teaching limudei kodesh and is not frum, I am not expecting adherence to kashrut and Shabbat, just sh'mirat ha-lashon.] Sadly, when friend informed the director of the school (and this teacher's supervisor) of this indiscretion, he was told that the director spoke to the teacher and since the teacher said it was a "private conversation", he's to blame for overhearing it. [He showed me the e-mail and all he said to the director was to tell her teachers to maintain professionalism even outside work.]

[Side note to readers of this blog whose children attend the same school as cool yiddishe maidel: it was one of the assistant teachers, not the one that is frum.]

This is hard for me because up until now, I have loved just about everything about this school. It scares me because it could have been my child she was talking about, in this way. It's not that I have so many skeletons in my closet (at the same time, I am not an open book). I feel that if certain people are bound to maintain confidentiality, then they should act that way, even when off the clock.

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