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Lest It Be Forgotten After I Am Gone: The Adolescent Years - 2

...I was a good wicket keeper and in winter I was wanted because I was a good goalie. I got a medal for this sport activity...

Raymon Benedyk recalls his days at a private Catholic school.

To read earlier episodes of Raymon's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/lest_it_be_forgotten_after_i_am_gone/

Back home, I soon got back into my old routine, although I had to rid my room of all the things that Henriette had left behind, little smelly bottles and jars, lumps of cotton wool, and all sorts of mysterious things a boy does not want to touch. I dumped whatever I came across in the dustbin.

And so I went back to school, but by this time my parents realised that I was not doing so well at the Jewish Orphanage, having failed an important exam. Shortly after, at the beginning of 1937, I was moved to another nearby establishment of learning, St Joseph's College, a private Catholic school about a mile away, where the teachers were priests and known as Brother this or that, the Headmaster being referred to as Brother Superior. Here, I began to learn a little French, Algebra and more advanced material.

I was not happy at first, mainly because of course nearly everyone was Catholic and I was the only Jewish boy. I made a few casual friends, but no one I could call mine. However, in the interclass sports matches, I proved useful to the class in the cricket season because I was a good wicket keeper and in winter I was wanted because I was a good goalie. I got a medal for this sport activity.

I got good scholastic marks too and I think, all in all, that I was better than an average scholar. I did encounter some anti-Semitism, although at the time I did not realise that is what it was, for example when one of the teachers asked if my first name was Moses. It wasn't a nasty thing to ask, but now I realise he shouldn't have needed to pose the question, since he must have known it as it was in the class register. Some of the boys said things that did upset me however, such as that the Jews killed Jesus who, at that time, I don't think I knew who it was, and that Jews killed Christian babies to use their blood to make Matzahs. However, most of my classmates accepted me without question, especially as I learned and recited all the daily Catholic prayers and did the religious homework along with everyone else, although that was only to get better exam marks, which was necessary.


If you wish to make a donation to the Elsa Benedyk Memorial Fund, set up by her friends and colleagues entirely without Raymon’s knowledge to provide funds to support the children's ward of the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem to commemorate her life of work with children in her nursery schools, it would be most gratefully received. The amount that you give will not be revealed to Raymon. He is not a trustee of the fund. Your cheque, payable to the Fund, should be sent to the fund's Treasurer Mrs I Dokelman, 14 Charville Court, 30/32 Gayton Road, Harrow, Middx HA1 2HT.


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