June 13, 2012 On Satmar Lawrence College
(Guest commentary by my gifted dear friend Frimet Goldberger:)
On Students of Satmar and Sarah Lawrence College
All Puns Intended
The peach walls around my living room appear as a timeline; the timeline of my marriage, that is. It begins with the 16×20 wedding photo of my gekrazelte peyos husband and I—an 18-year-old bride with a face shedding the last remains of baby fat. To the right is a montage of photos of my family, illustrating our transformation from KJ and beyond. Underneath all of this, perched atop the mahogany buffet my in-laws paid a fortune on, is the picture frame containing the fruits of late nights and two and half years of my life: my Associate in Arts.
Next to my husband, two children, and the family we managed to hold together through our life-altering journey, this is my biggest pride.
The first year of college was not easy. I entered with a non-accredited Bais Ruchel diploma. I was also an amazing balabusta, with a deeply bruised self-esteem and even rustier brain, but armed with an iron determination. I ran from carpools in the morning, to class, back home to cooking poprigash and baking kokosh cake, and tending to my two toddlers.
I developed a network of support—with my husband and wife/husband, Shpitzle, at its core. By the second year, I was invited to join the Mentor/Talented Honors Program.
Before I graduated from Rockland Community College in 2011 with highest honors (3.945, baby!), and after I reluctantly conceded to the impracticalities of an Ivy League education and all it entails, I applied to four Colleges in the Rockland/Westchester vicinity: Pace, Fordham, Manhattanville, and Sarah Lawrence College.
Let’s just say they all loved my unique sob story of fourteen bedikas, twice-a-day, a bearded, coke-smelling husband who refuses to change tires, and Airmont men who gawk at me every time I leave my house to duck out for a movie. I received four enthusiastic “Here is our response: Congratulations!” letters, accompanied with generous scholarships.
The Sarah Lawrence package was irresistible. They sure know how to lure women like my fellow Sarah Lawrencer and epic cartoonist, Shpitzle Shtrimpkind, and I—who have never heard of Barbara Walters— into their bastion of diversity.
We are often asked why we chose Sarah Lawrence College. What is it about this small, astronomically expensive, gay-friendly, and relatively unknown college that attracts suburbanite Satmar graduates like us?
Allow me to debunk a rumor: we did not follow anyone there! Shpitzle applied on a whim after realizing her dream of roaming the Columbia University halls would mean trading in her doodling to study for the GRE. SLC prides itself on their liberal admissions process: no SATs, GREs, or grades are required to join the elite. In fact, until this year, they disallowed these good-for-nothing scores from being submitted to enhance one’s application.
I, on the other hand, applied because really, secretly, I am a lesbian and a feminist who fell in love with the study of underwater basket weaving, and in order for my business pseudo-degree to be plausible, I can only sneak off over the Tappan Zee Bridge four times a week.
Na, whom am I kidding. Sarah Lawrence College is accessible to bogged-down Rockland moms whose motherhood comes before selfhood. It is a haven for students from all walks of life, including ex-Satmar, but still Satmar, mothers like us.
In no time, I fell in love with their unique pedagogy and respect for every beating heart. I found my little niche, next to the incredibly bright, and fully-pierced Sally, across the most articulate and sweet John—who wears cardigans and neon nail-polish, and amongst the beskirted, largely female, student body.
As I bid farewell to my first successful semester at SLC, and embrace the carefree days of summer freedom with my family, I pat myself on the back and declare, “I am proud of me.”
I owe my success in college to my fourth-grade level English, to my husband and his unwavering support, to my two beautiful children who never stopped believing their mother is the bestest, to my mentors at RCC for nursing me back to health, and to my old and new friends (you know who you are!) who are here when I need them.
And I need to thank Sarah Lawrence College for greatly expanding my horizons, so much so I am considering leaving my husband for a book deal. Last I heard, Shpitzle abandoned her cozy blue home and beloved impatiens to go shopping for a Valentine in New Orleans.