On Thursday and Friday I was taking exams at school. I will sit the Israeli matriculation exams in January, so I had to pass some exams at my school first. I have done Hebrew, English, Maths, Physics and Biology already, still have to take History, Scriptures and PE, which will happen tomorrow and Monday. PE will be mostly the health aspect, because my leg is still not up to 100%.

When I walked out of the exam on Thursday, after scoring 95, the headmaster told me that when I showed up at the school a year and a half ago, he didn’t think I’d ever pass the 12th grade, let alone half a year early. He asked me how I did it.

My schoolimng was eclectic. I attended state secular schools from the age of 4 to 8, and then went to a Jewish day school in Johannesburg and then I was home schooled in Windhoek. Because TV was mostly in languages I didn’t understand, reading became my primary form of entertainment. When I got back to Israel I spent two years in state religious schools before my father put me in haredi religious schools after my mother died. For three years my education contained barely more than the Torah and religion. So I was about 3-4 years behind the other students in academic subjects.

So how I caught up to them in a year and a half?

I read.

I remember the day I got my textbooks for make up tutoring. I stayed up all night reading my math textbook, essentially teaching the material to myself. I kept on reading, and while doing so, the gaps were filled. I started reading Stephen Hawking again, just for fun. I started to read studies and essays, novels, graphic novels and comic books. I read philosophy, religion, science, romance, even Twilight. Please don’t stone me.

So I spent the last year and a half reading whatever I could get my hands on. This was both to satisfy my long supressed curiousity and to escape from whatever harshness reality brings. It’s a lot easier to do with a 400 page book that lasts 2 days than the movie adaptation that lasts 2 hours! There are so many different worlds where I can retreat to for solace on my bookshelf.

While I’m not one of the cool kids, I don’t need to be, simply because I’m one of the smart kids, with a global network of similarly minded uncool youths. Some of these uncool people will make the world move forward, and I’m very happy to be considered one of them.


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