We had a couple of seminary girls for Shabbat. One is a cousin of mine, the other her friend. In all, it was a really nice Shabbat. The girls are both students at a very ‘Bais Yaakov’ – oriented seminary in Jerusalem. Mainline American-style chareidi if ever there was one.

I noticed at some point on Friday night that each of them was wearing more than just the standard ‘red bendel’. They each had a few others as well. That intrigued me, so I started asking about them, but in my own somewhat sarcastic sort of way (“What religion are these bendelach a part of?”). I asked such a question, and nothing – and I mean, nothing – could have prepared me for the response I got:

I asked, “Is there a ‘Safe Darfur’ bendel?”
The response: “Who is Darfur?”

Neither of the girls had ever heard of Darfur. One of them had heard of the Sudan, but was completely unaware that anything of any significance was going on there. I explained a bit about the Janjaweed and the ethnic cleansing happening in the Sudan, but that’s really not the point, is it? I was simply amazed that the educational system teaching these girls can be so utterly oblivious to the rest of the world.

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