A little respect, please

Rachel Lesel, Staff Columnist

On Monday, February 14, I heard an incredible speaker talk about oppression and atrocities in his time, while I witnessed disturbance and assumptions in the crowd.

The audience was composed of parents and extra-credit seeking students belonging to YULA and Shalhevet, and although I was there for personal reasons (my great-uncle was liberated from Buchenwald by an African-American battalion), I just assumed everyone would show respect to a World War II veteran and peace advocate.  Wrong. The entire speech I heard laughter, chatter and at one point watched people say goodbye to one another with smiles and hugs while Dr. Leon Bass discussed a lamp made of human skin.

I am not blaming everything on YULA, since there were Shalhevet students whispering too. But I saw many more yellow-and-black kippas turning their head than red kippas. Then, as many realized, YULA added a fifth student to the “Outstanding Students” mumbling that she wasn’t on the program, then shoo-ed Mr. Tranchi off the stage and ended the event before our principal could give a closing speech on unity.

A few days later, Ms. Berkey and others informed me that YULA’s principal had called Mr. Tranchi on the phone and apologized for his mistake, explaining that he had not seen the final version of the program.

The rabbi from YULA did not read the program, and therefore did not realize Tranchi was going to speak. Then how did he know a YULA student was missing from the program? I now understand why we are rivals with them.  To be fair, Mr. Tranchi’s final sign-off had indeed been added to the program last minute.

Dr. Leon Bass was probably saved the humiliation of background noise due to his own poor hearing, but the whole event’s message seems meaningless if we couldn’t even keep it together and listen to him.

Next time, teachers, just don’t make it extra credit. Those who truly want to go and listen will do so without the extra motivation.  People who go just for the extra credit end up treating it as just something to do to hang out with friends.

The message I got out of Dr. Bass’s life story is that we sometimes should be rebellious when we disagree and hope to change a social law. We should speak up about what we think is wrong, and try to fix it.

I guess this column is my way of telling our community that what I saw at that lecture was not a respectful nation, but a pitiful social scene. Maybe I’m not a complete rebel, but if anyone asks about the evening, I won’t hesitate to share my frustration toward my peers.