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“I looked him square in the eye and thought, “I’m ready for The Talk.”
He was not my father, and I was not a boy about to reach puberty. He was my college science professor. I was 24.
I had taken my last science class 10 years earlier, in 10th grade. The Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn I grew up in is skeptical toward scientists and their methods, including well-established concepts like carbon dating, the Big Bang and natural selection.
Secular studies were an afterthought in my all-male yeshiva high school, offered in the late afternoon after eight hours of religious subjects. After “English,” we often returned for a few more hours of Torah study. The person who was supposed to be teaching us 10th grade science was untrained as an educator, teaching until he found a full-time job as a computer programmer.
After four years in seminary, I decided that a secular college would be a better fit. I first spent two years in an evening program at Touro College, geared toward people with similar backgrounds to mine. The classes were single-gendered — Monday and Wednesday were for men, Tuesday and Thursday for women.”
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