I started going to school more or less normally, with a year or so kindergarten, and then beginning in first class when six years old. The school my parents sent me to was close to our home and partially followed the Montessori-system, which allows children a lot of freedom.
At some point while I was in the first class the Second World War interfered, and the school was divided into two parts, one general and one Jewish. We had to dress with a yellow patch on our clothes and to go into school through the back entrance. The division was made with wooden planks, so we could hear our previous classmates walk and talk on the other side of the division.
This unusual situation did not last very long, because we were thrown out of our house and located in another part of Amsterdam, close to a train station (so we could be easily picked up and transported to the concentration camps).
This was the end of my early school career.
In the meantime education was forbidden for Jewish children – they should remain stupid. Funnily enough, religious education was allowed, and in the early months in camp I managed to learn some prayers by rote. But then came a period for nearly two years in which our parents were working and us kids had nothing to do, other than wandering around with my older brother and see if there was any food to be stolen near the kitchen. No supervision at all.
Then came the liberation in 1945, and we went home to our former house, and soon school started. The same school I had been forced to leave two years earlier. The Montessori-section – less strict – was traditionally largely chosen by Jewish parents. However, so many of them had perished, that there was no way of having Montessori classes, and I was placed in third class according to the strict 'classical' method, with kids I did not know, who had gone to school all those years, and knew things from their continuous education during my lost years. I found it impossible to sit quietly all day, the lessons difficult to follow, and I obviously missed my freedom.
I hated it all, and I was a nasty pupil. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I changed school nearly every year.
To show that I really meant it, according to a suggestion by my father, I did the final school exam (Baccalaureate) secretly in 5th grade of high school, instead of 6th. So I gained one year without the hated school.
Things became a lot better as a medical student at university.
I then promised myself that I would never set foot in schools again, and when I became a parent, I never went near my childrens' school, nor to any meetings there.
But then fate interfered. The son of a friend of ours in Amsterdam had a very hard time, with drugs and bad friends. And I invited him to live with us in Israel. He went to the American International School, and then my loving wife said: "I have taken upon myself all dealings with schools for our three children. Now it is your turn."
Of course she was right, so the following three years I was called to school every week, because the boy who came into our home was a lovable but very difficult child. The teachers there were very nice and forgiving people, and I had partially overcome my hatred of school. Our guest did his exams, went home to his parents, and found his way in life.
And here I am, of my own free will.
Eldad Kisch, tutor in English for ESRA at Rothberg high school, December 2021
Enige uitleg is hier op zijn plaats: het bovenstaande schreef ik voor twee leerlingen van de middelbare school in mijn stadje, waar ik als vrijwilliger bijles Engels geef. Om hun belangstelling te vergroten in plaats van de neutrale en zoete praatjes die ze gewoonlijk te lezen krijgen. Ik dacht dat het juist was om het eerst te laten zien aan de lerares Engels, die onze lessen coördineert. Zij was zeer enthousiast, en nodigde me uit om dit persoonlijk voor te dragen in de klassen waar ze les geeft.
Het is nu dus duidelijk waarom dit in het Engels is; dat is mede nuttig voor sommigen van mijn kleinkinderen, die geen Hollands begrijpen.