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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 14:58 
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My first name is of Jewish origin, well, it's in the Old Testament, whilst my second name, the one that I actually use is of Germanic/ Anglo-Saxon origin.

Yes, I do know that Anglo-Saxon is a Primitive Germanic language of the Indo-European group, but I'm still pleased that I am named after a probably fictional queen.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 18:08 
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Wonder why Naomi was considered to be more likely to be a Jewish name than other OT names such as Sarah, Ruth, Rachel. Rebecca, Hannah, Deborah? Don't think EBD uses them all, but there are several Ruths, and a notable Sarah (Denny)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 22:19 
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Not having the unabridged version of Trials, I think I have maybe not picked up the meaning of Joey's Jewess remark correctly.

I took it to mean that Joey was asking if Naomi was Jewish because Naomi was unpleasant and Joey thought Jews were unpleasant. This is so outrageous though that I think Joey meant something different - that because Naomi was not Christian Joey thought she might have been another religion and used Jewish as an example.

Please let me know which is the correct interpretation or is there a third?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 22:32 
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I don't think Joey has met Naomi when she makes the remark. IIRC she is asking Hilda about Naomi before she arrives. Which is why I wondered if EBD was trying to forestall any accusation of antisemitism because she knew the character she had depicted was unpleasant.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 22:49 
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Naomi hasn't arrived at the school at this point, and Joey doesn't know anything about her. The issue of her being agnostic hasn't arisen either - that only comes up when Mary-Lou asks her which prayer service she'll be attending. Joey only asks the question because she thinks Naomi sounds like "a Jewish name", for lack of a better way of putting it. It's an odd question, and I think Abbeybufo's probably right that, maybe because of what had happened with the EJO book published in the same year, EBD didn't want to be accused of any sort of insidious prejudice.

I do wonder why she didn't just choose another name, though! She could always have used "Naomi" for a less controversial character. But it makes sense that she might have already written the book and just added that line in at someone else's suggestion. The "she's not ... is she" wording doesn't sound very nice, but, given the earlier storyline about the friendship with the Goldmanns, I really don't think that either EBD or Joey held any sort of anti-Jewish prejudices.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 22:56 
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ivohenry wrote:
Wonder why Naomi was considered to be more likely to be a Jewish name than other OT names such as Sarah, Ruth, Rachel. Rebecca, Hannah, Deborah? Don't think EBD uses them all, but there are several Ruths, and a notable Sarah (Denny)
But I think most of them, with the exception of Ruth, were all pretty uncommon in the 1940s (when Naomi was presumably born), or even the 1950s. They became hugely popular in the 1960s and 70s, to the extent of many girls being, say, one of five Sarahs or three Rachels in the same form at school, and it's really difficult to imagine now how rare they were twenty years before that.

Re Sarah, I'm always struck by Madge's wondering, on meeting Miss Denny, how the Denny parents could have called one child Tristan and the other Sarah, I suspect because in the UK at the time (1926) Tristan would be considered an enormously romantic name and Sarah both mundane and old-fashioned.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 23:10 
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Noreen wrote:
They became hugely popular in the 1960s and 70s, to the extent of many girls being, say, one of five Sarahs or three Rachels in the same form at school, and it's really difficult to imagine now how rare they were twenty years before that.


Yes! In my secondary school class in the mid 1980s, out of 30 girls there were 5 Sara/Sarahs and 4 Emmas. Only one Rachel though. And none of the Victorian names so popular today.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 30 Aug 2018, 23:26 
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Noreen wrote:
ivohenry wrote:
Wonder why Naomi was considered to be more likely to be a Jewish name than other OT names such as Sarah, Ruth, Rachel. Rebecca, Hannah, Deborah? Don't think EBD uses them all, but there are several Ruths, and a notable Sarah (Denny)
But I think most of them, with the exception of Ruth, were all pretty uncommon in the 1940s (when Naomi was presumably born), or even the 1950s. They became hugely popular in the 1960s and 70s, to the extent of many girls being, say, one of five Sarahs or three Rachels in the same form at school, and it's really difficult to imagine now how rare they were twenty years before that.

Re Sarah, I'm always struck by Madge's wondering, on meeting Miss Denny, how the Denny parents could have called one child Tristan and the other Sarah, I suspect because in the UK at the time (1926) Tristan would be considered an enormously romantic name and Sarah both mundane and old-fashioned.


There's an EJO with girl called Sara - insists on without the h, which she says sounds so housemaid-y.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 31 Aug 2018, 11:31 
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The only anti-Semitic comment I can think of is from Herr Anserl in Exile who says he has no great love of Jews though he wishes them no harm. I think this is EBD being realistic for the times. In 1930s Austria there would have been many with similar prejudices.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2018, 00:01 
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Still not 100% clear about this but I am taking it that Joey only thought Naomi Jewish because of her name ? Is that right?


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2018, 00:09 
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It seems so. She commented on the name and asked if Naomi was a Jewess. Hilda says that she knew twins named Ruth and Naomi who were not.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2018, 11:57 
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Thanks very much for reply.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 01 Sep 2018, 20:37 
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If she's only asking based on the name, she might be thinking of the difficulties a Jewish girl might encounter at such a seriously Christian school. Might be the reason for the less than nice formation of the question. Not that Naomi being Jewish would be a bad thing, but that the staff would have to make accommodations, maybe.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 02 Sep 2018, 10:20 
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I've not read End of Term, but I know being Jewish caused Miranda problems at Kingscote - wasn't the headmistress anti-Semitic? And she does get excused from going to services but I think she has a mistress supervising her. I think this was brought up in a previous Trials thread, but a Jewish girl would have no end of trouble at the CS. If she was observant, she'd have to miss out on any Friday night fun and wouldn't be able to do any Hobbies stuff or homework on Saturdays or Friday night prep, and she'd have to have a kosher diet. No meat and dairy, no pork etc. and that's before you get into the whole separate plates and cutlery thing. The school would have to make a lot of allowances, and I can't see Miss Annersley bending over backwards for one girl. And then there's the Prayers issue, and even a secular Jew would run into trouble there, because I'm not sure her family would be OK with their daughter going to a church service. (I got the impression that any girl who isn't Catholic just goes the Protestant service. Ricki is a Quaker and she does, although her nanny took her to C of E services in England, and presumably a Baptist girl would as well.)

The only Naomi I know is Jewish, but I'm sure there were a couple of non-Jewish Naomis at my primary school.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 02 Sep 2018, 11:14 
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Miss Keith of Kingscote had many faults but she was not anti-Semitic IRC and Miranda took full part in the school except for overtly Christian activities such as chapel and the nativity play. She did receive snide comments from nasty girls though. AF was part Jewish herself. I can't think that parents who observed kosher would send a daughter to the Chalet School.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 02 Sep 2018, 14:33 
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I wonder if that would happen in the CS? I can't imagine it, though, Miss Annersley would come down very hard on that sort of thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 02 Sep 2018, 17:07 
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Miranda was originally going to be left out of the Nativity Play, but I read it that Miss Keith meant well and genuinely thought that she would feel uncomfortable taking part in a Nativity Play. She should have asked her, rather than just wrongly assuming that she wouldn't want to be in it, but she didn't mean it in a nasty way.

I remember the staff at my school once marking off a section of the dining room, and putting down plastic tablecloths when Passover fell during term time, rather than during the Easter holidays, because they genuinely thought that Jewish pupils might be worried about cross-contamination of food. People just ignored it and sat with their friends of different religions as normal, but the staff did genuinely mean it kindly. I think it was the same with Miss Keith.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 01:14 
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I can't picture the CS being able to handle a student who wasn't able to at least go along with Christianity. Religion is such a major part of the school - they have grace at meals, a daily prayer service, religious education classes, the Christmas pageant, mandatory bedtime prayers. They have trouble handing agnostic Naomi, and she's reformed by the end of the book. And even the student from India is Protestant.

I don't think students being nasty would be accepted, but I think well-meaning awkwardness and general puzzlement would be unavoidable, and the student would feel very alienated. Mary-Lou is well meaning, but genuinely baffled at meeting someone who wasn't baptized.

And that would be for someone who wasn't at all observant. I don't think the school could physically feed an observant Jew - keeping kosher is more than just not giving her pork, and the CS kitchen and their grocery suppliers would not be acceptable. There would also be no venue for religious education or attending services.

The idea that the comments at the beginning was stuck in due to EJO's book's issues is interesting and makes sense (and is certainly easier than replacing all the names right before publication). Although the comment does seem very Joey-like in it's casual lack of tact.

Oh, and Naomi is also a Japanese name, completely unrelated to the Hebrew origin - the only Naomi I know is Japanese.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 08:58 
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Ah - that explains Naomi Osaka, the up-and-coming Japanese tennis player! I've always thought it was a strange first name for a Japanese girl to have :D .

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 Post subject: Re: Books: Trials for the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 09:05 
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jennifer wrote:
I can't picture the CS being able to handle a student who wasn't able to at least go along with Christianity. Religion is such a major part of the school - they have grace at meals, a daily prayer service, religious education classes, the Christmas pageant, mandatory bedtime prayers. They have trouble handing agnostic Naomi, and she's reformed by the end of the book. And even the student from India is Protestant.
Yes, but a daily religious-based school assembly and the inclusion of religious education in the curriculum were fairly standard in most UK schools at that time, and in EMBD's lifetime they were actually compulsory in at least the English and Welsh state schools.

I suspect that EMBD had never come across a practising Jewish pupil, whether as a pupil herself, or as a headmistress. And even if she had, the impact wouldn't be the same in a day school. It's relatively easy to exempt a non-Christian pupil or two from the RE lessons and the religious element of assembly, and they would probably go home for lunch or bring a packed lunch if that were not possible. This was the practice in my own secondary school for anyone who was of practising Jewish, Roman Catholic or any other non-Protestant Christian religion - and yes, agnostic or atheist as well. The difficulties really arise with the boarding school environment, where every aspect of the day has to be considered and the school is the sole provider, so to speak.
PS Thanks for the comment about the use of Naomi as a name in Japan, jennifer - any idea of what it does mean? I'm fascinated by these names that appear in more than one culture - my own included (Muslim as well as Irish Christian).


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