Gail Horalek, a parent in Northville, Michigan, filed a formal complaint with the local School Board after her 7th Grade daughter was assigned to read “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.” The book is a diary written by a teenaged Anne Frank while she and her family were hiding from the Nazis in Holland during WWII. They were eventually discovered and Anne perished in a Nazi concentration camp. Her writings have been translated into over 60 languages and the book is often cited as one of the most important of the 20th century.
The most recent unedited version of the book contains a passage which Horalek, in her own words, has described as follows: “It’s pretty graphic, and it’s pretty pornographic for 7th Grade boys and girls to be reading.”
This is the passage in question:
Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris … When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you’re standing, so you can’t see what’s inside. They separate when you sit down and they’re very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there’s a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That’s the clitoris.
To be fair, Horalek would prefer that the school assign an earlier version of Anne Frank’s Diary to the kids. Otto Frank, Anne’s father, edited out some of the “controversial” passages from the original diaries and only later was a fuller version published which included passages critical of her family and reflective of her budding sexuality. There’s no indication that Horalek is anti-Semitic – only that she has chosen her words poorly. Calling the passage above “pornographic” was a big mistake and I am sure that if she could, Horalek would take it back. You’d have to be one heck of a twisted and warped person to be sexually titillated by anything contained in Anne Frank’s diary.
As for Horalek’s daughter reading these passages – clearly 7th grade is no time to be learning about human sexuality. The best time for that is in the 11th grade after you have given birth in a toilet.
Anyhow, the principal, the teacher and the School board are going to discuss it further so stay tuned I guess. Some resolution should be announced within 2 weeks.
- Jews Blessed by their High Priests - 10/14/2022
- Foolproof Mufletta Recipe & Muflettapalooza / Mimouna Invite! - 3/26/2021
- Jewish Poles who will Amaze You - 1/29/2021
Great post. But in 11th grade, my friends didn’t give birth in the school lavatory, they went to the nurse’s office, which was adjacent to the vice-principal’s office
Ha….Ha…. You are right!
“Pornographic” is definitely an ill chosen word, but it is graphic and this woman’s daughter was the one who said she was uncomfortable.
Maybe Anne Frank’s diary isn’t the best place to learn a lesson in sexual anatomy? Like maybe, a health class is a more appropriate place? There is an edited version that probably retains all the stuff about living in hiding under Nazi occupation.
“Pronographic” is an ill chosen word but graphic it is, yes. It was the 7th grader herself who said it made her uncomfortable, right? I dunno, CK, maybe the time and place to learn about sexual anatomy is in a sex ed class. The edited version still contains all the parts about living under Nazi occupation, right? Probably, a compromise can be made without all this hoopla?
In my very Jewish district we sure is heck read the edited version, and I think the full poignancy of the text was still came across.
Bad article title. It is Anne’s pudendum or vulva this mom doesn’t want her kid reading about.
Gail Esther Horalek is a pious Jewish woman. As an Orthodox Jew there is no way I would want my children reading the uncensored version either.
This woman is correct. You do realize that orthodox Yeshivas do not allow this version of the book, do you not? Why on earth would you want your children to read about someone else talking about their body like this? Not to mention the homosexual passages about her friend Jacques. Ms. Horalek is merely following Halakha and she should not be condemned for it. That’s anti-Semitic, not asking for modesty for our children.
Yes, of course, Rivka is absolutely correct! if Orthodox yeshivas do not allow this version of the book, then this is the right way to go. After all, Orthodox yeshivas are great places of learning. They may not be incubators of artists, fiction writers, scientists, engineers, musicians, academics, businesspeople, athletes (or otherwise productive citizens who don’t require the state’s help to provide for their multiple children), but they sure turn out lots of folks who have modesty. These are the types of people who are so modest, they send the labias to the back of the bus, or ensure that vulvas are hidden behind a mechitza, or worry greatly about clitorises studying Torah and preventing them from becoming rabbis or even praying with tzitzit on at the Western Wall.
Let’s face it, when it comes to education, modesty is far more important when raising future contributors to society than courses in the maths, biology, chemistry and music. And if a yeshiva excludes courses in those areas, as do many of Israel’s yeshivas, then why on earth should they include passages in memoirs that discuss the labia? What’s really, really, really important is modesty for our children. Yeshivas know best.
Your sarcasm is biting and funny. Gail and her daughter are not even Jewish…
However, I would venture to say that you have lumped all yeshivas into the same boat and that is simply incorrect. Yeshivas train some of the brightest young people contributing to society in the ways that you have outlined – science etc.
I think that you have misconstrued the issue for your own personal vendetta against the highly segregationist Israeli religious fanatics. Your conflagration of Ann Frank’s personal writings and the extreme misogyny of Israeli religious radicals is simply disingenuous.
However — (and I am by no means defending the system of education in Israel or anywhere else that doesn’t offer a balanced approached. All Jewish schools need to teach both secular and religious with the same emphasis.) —a Torah education doesn’t need your hechsher.
Torah learning is contributing to society in ways that you might not appreciate. It is connected to the metaphysical underpinnings of our relationship with God and humanity.
As I said, Gail and her daughter are not Jewish, let alone orthodox.
Rabbi, as you know I try to write carefully and I was specific in writing, “…as do MANY of Israel’s yeshivas…” so as to assure the reader that NOT ALL yeshivas are stupid enough to exclude core “secular” subjects from their hapless students’ curriculum. However, many yeshivas’ curriculums are that stupid.
The point being that when Rivka (not Gail, I was responding to Rivka) seeks to allude to yeshivas being example-setting institutions that may guide us in terms of general education or the setting of terms for how women should be treated within society, I’m afraid that while there are many fine and upstanding observant Jews, let’s be honest that within some parts of various Orthodox communities in Israel and out of it, the place and role of women is quite different than the role of women outside of this enclosed world. Along those lines, many of these institutions also do a disservice to their male students by eliminating many educational possibilities that would advance their lives and enrich their communities in many ways.
In these respects, the last place that should have a say or influence on how a book such as this is read because of its mention of certain body parts or a budding sexual awareness are yeshivas. I would have responded in the same way if Rivka had said “monasteries,” “mosques” or “Amish families.” She said yeshivas, however, and that is why I responded to “yeshivas.”
By the way, I have no “vendetta” against yeshivas or the Orthodox and count some Orthodox Jews as my good friends *cough* *cough*. While I understand your taking offense at my criticism of yeshivas, let’s not minimize the substance of what I’ve written by suggesting that it was blind criticism or hatred, it was neither.
Now I will agree with you since I have no evidence to the contrary that it is very possible that “Torah learning is contributing to society in ways” that I “might not appreciate” and that Torah learning may be connected “to the metaphysical underpinnings of our relationship with God and humanity.” I have been fortunate enough to drink some of the (Orthodox) Weiss brothers’ wine and therefore have had any doubts about the existence of God dispelled permanently and have come to appreciate the metaphysics of our relationship with God. 😉
I’m never for censoring. I get that there seems like a problem to the complaining mom here but maybe it’s an opportunity to talk to the kids about bodies and about the things Anne was feeling and writing about.
Tina, it is not censorship for parents to ask that they are notified before their children are given materials in the classroom that contain sensitive issues. Then, parents can decide whether or not the material is appropriate for their child. In this case, the teacher decided to go ahead using the unedited version without informing parents. Who gave the teacher the right to make assumptions? Did this un-edited version go through a proper vetting process?? We, as parents, receive permission slips for field trips and movies that may be PG, PG-13, or R rated – so why did that not happen in this case? The administration is at fault. All books must go through a vetting process before they are used in a classroom. The teacher failed the parents and the parents in turn have EVERY right to complain. This is not about book banning or book burning or anti-Semitism or anthing else this family has been wrongly accused of in the media. This mother’s daughter approached her and told her she felt uncomfortable reading the material. What good mother would not step in at this point? The vicious media has created lies about this woman and called her filthy names. Well, I applaud Gail for listening to her daughter’s needs and bringing it to the attention of the school administration so that other parents would be notified, as well. Where are the other parents in the community of Northville, Michigan? Why in the world are they not supporting this woman in her attempt to give the rights back to parents??? i don’t understand it….
The students are not mature enough to handle a book i guess cause when i was in eigth grade us students were mature enough to handle it and also kids today are shown ponographic stuff or just search it up on there computers the world today is just mest up and wrong
Hello there, awesome web site. All of the issues you created on were quite fascinating. I attempted to provide in the RSS feed to my news reader. Thanks
How is it that just anybody can create a weblog and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said something incredibly impressive more like youve painted a pretty picture more than an issue that you know nothing about! I dont want to sound mean, here. But do you seriously think that you can get away with adding some quite pictures and not really say something?
Has anyone ever been to Kahuna Vapor Vape Store located in 916 N Shadeland Ave Ste B?