I taught in the New York City public school system (usually called the "DOE NYC" for Department of Education, NYC) for 20 years. I taught all types of students: boys and girls of various races, ethnic groups and abilities. Most were not well off, but some where from quite comfortable families. At one high school I came into contact with kids from Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, Italy, Tibet, Pakistan, and several other nations.

Most of the students were Christian, and many others were Muslim or followed Asian religions. A minority were Jewish. This basically reflects the demographics of New York City, but a few of the schools were much more diverse than others.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


I have kept in touch with a handful of students via social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram. A few were among my all-time favorite students. One student, Mario, was something of a comedian, very bright but not always too disciplined. However, I always nagged him to do his work and he did. These days, he and I sometimes discuss current events and sports. Another student, Megan, raised money via crowd-sourcing to go to teach in Israel. I was very pleased with her choice to do so. Yet another student, Donavion, is very career oriented and I see how he is enjoying various internships during his college career.

Another former student is N, a bright and talented young man who is now in his mid-20s. He works a few different gigs: he does commercial art and is also a youth preacher. I guess you would call him a "born again Christian" although he was somewhat religiously involved in high school. He and I have sometimes discussed Biblical stories and religious holidays. He attended one of my Pesach seders, came to both my daughters' bat mitzvah ceremonies, and even came to one or two typical Shabbat services at my synagogue.

For the most part I have been pleased to engage in religious discussions with N, but recently we hit a rocky patch. Why? Because, quite frankly, he has asked me if I would be interested in studying Jesus's teachings, and even accept him in a certain spiritual sense. When I realized he was quite serious about that, I was shocked and quite annoyed. I even grew angry. But I wanted to walk a fine line of tact, teacherly understanding and do so with a dose of humor.

However, when I explained that as a Jew I really could not accept his savior as mine, he sent me a series of Facebook messages basically pleading with me to change my mind. I got quite angry but had to step back from growing shrill. N seems to see me as a pet project, because as he has made clear, getting Jews to accept Jesus is one of his goals. And it is not one of my life goals.

I have made various attempts to explain this to him, and at this point we have kind of an "agree to disagree" truce. But I am quite discomforted by this. I really never had someone else try to convert me. I had one friend who tried to convince me to have a Christmas tree, but she felt it was a secular thing, (I didn't and plan not to have one in my house ever.) But I have discussed this sticky issue with friends who are Jewish, and most think I should just take this in stride. I am trying to do so, but perhaps it is just not in my personality, to brush off serious attempts at converting me to Christianity. This may happen to Jews in tiny Southern US "Bible Belt" towns, and a new movie version of the Philip Roth novel "Indignation" features a young Jewish man, attending a midwestern college, who is forced to attend chapel services on campus. But here I am, living in the most Jewish of United States cities, and someone is trying to convert me. And I really do not appreciate it. Oy vey!

Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

Think others should know about this? Please share