I Became a Plagiarist, a Book Lover, and Finally a Writer // All thanks to having a mean teacher

By Ruchama Feuerman

We called our English teacher Mrs. Mean-a-ker instead of Mrs. Menaker, because to us third graders, that was the epitome of wit, and also because she was dour.

Three memories stand out:


On the first day of school at Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington, Mrs. Menaker, a square-shouldered, squat, yet somehow small middle-aged woman with a round head and short gray bangs, announced, “Class, I’m 100 years old!”

This declaration electrified me. I half rose in my seat and bawled, “No, that can’t be true!”

Her gaze softened a little and she almost smiled.

Encouraged, I went on, “I could see you being 80 or 90, but not 100!”

If she were a beach ball, I’d say she deflated.

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