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Malky Cope

“The school doesn’t have spare cash to invest in the library. If you feel so strongly about it, maybe you can raise the money”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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I t was Shabbos afternoon and I had nothing to read — again. I had long finished the magazines from cover to cover. The few novels my family actually possessed I could quote verbatim; I had read them that many times. I was signed up at the community library but the waiting list for the new books was miles long. And my school’s library? Don’t even get me started on that. Their library is a pathetic joke. The most recent novel they have was published in 2009. We’re now in 2017. Do the math. They haven’t bought a new book in the last seven years. Seven years! It’s inexcusable really. I mean, they manage to give us homework; they give us tests. Shouldn’t they find a way to give us books to read as well?

The mishnah we had recently learned from Pirkei Avos reverberated in my mind. “In a place where there is no man, try to be a man.” I decided to apply it to this situation. Everybody else had accepted the status quo of the library. Girls either found their own ways to get hold of books or just didn’t bother to read. If nobody was going to do anything to change it, I would have to be the one. The key to success lay in my hands and I was going to start the revolution.

Although I’m normally shy by nature, I summoned up unknown reserves of confidence and went to speak to our principal. Respectfully (because that’s the way people actually listen to you), I lodged my complaint. She was receptive but apologetic. “The school doesn’t have spare cash to invest in the library at the moment. If you feel so strongly about it, then maybe you can think of a way to raise money. Feel free to come back and discuss it with me anytime.”

That night, I roped in my four closest friends for a brainstorming session. Ideas popped out faster than the popcorn we made, but each one was disregarded just as quickly. Just when we were ready to write off the meeting as a failure, Toby came up with a winner. “Why don’t we do a sponsor read,” she suggested enthusiastically. “People choose a certain number of books to read and find people to sponsor them per book.” We didn’t even have to vote on it. The decision to use Toby’s idea was unanimous. The remainder of the meeting was spent planning the logistics and typing out a clear plan.

The next day, I presented our plan to the principal, desperately hoping she would consent to our proposal. “That was quick thinking,” she told me, sounding impressed. “I can see you’re really determined to make this work. I have a board meeting on Thursday. I’ll run this by them and do my utmost to get them to agree to your plan.” 

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 665)

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