Thursday, May 25, 2006

Orthodox Apprentice

I just found the blog Orthodox Apprentice which has great background information about the Jewish finalist Lee Bienstock. It also has an interview with Lenny, who it turns out is a lot less anti-religious than the producers made him out to be.

Some interesting points:

- One of the tasks was during Sukkos and Lee did not take the day off but the comments suggest that maybe he didn't "work" on the task in his usual way. (There is an interesting debate in the comments about whether this is a chilul Hashem, or even a kiddush Hashem.)

- As I mentioned above, Lenny actually liked Lee from the beginjning and claims in the interview that he never had a problem with his taking off time for the holiday, but rather was saying that it is not looked at positively in the working world. He also went to shul for part of Yom Kippur and fasted even as he worked on the task.

- Tarek is quoted with praise for Lee's faithfulness to his beliefs and says that he was surprised that Lee didn't take off for Sukkos.

I haven't finsihed reading the whole site but want to do so before the show tomorrow. Go Lee!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hurting Other With Words (Part 1)

Cool Yiddishe Mama writes about one of my "favorite" topics, people who worry so much about tiny details of tsnius, kashrut, etc. but hurt others with their words and actions on a regular basis.

I am not really in favor of the Lesson A Day program -- not because I don't think people should learn the laws of Lashon HaRa, but because I think many people honestly believe that any issue of interpersonal behavior not covered in that one sefer is therefore not a violation of halacha. In fact, the Chofetz Chaim's teaching on proper behavior extend to all aspects of how to treat others. (He even wrote other sefarim!) There are some excellent books that cover a broader scope of the halacha, including anything by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (especially "Power of Words") and "Journey to Virtue" by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman. (I love giving this book as a gift, and currently don't own a copy because I gave mine away.)

But then there's the bigger problem that has entered so many of "the issues" -- why does something have to be codified in order to be the correct way to act? Shouldn't it be obvious that Hashem needs us to be Not Mean? Maybe even, NICE? Why should I even have to write a post about "frum" people being rude and thinking it's ok because the exact thing that they said isn't mentioned in Shmiras HaLashon?

Like the person who was double-parked and had a bumper sticker saying "I don't speak Lashon HaRa" (or something like that), and screamed and cursed at another frum person who asked them to move their car, and claimed that "Nothing I just said is Lashon HaRa."

Or a rabbi with whom we were previously involved who had smicha from Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, emphasized learning the Lesson A Day in his shul, showed the Chofetz Chaim Heritage videos on Tisha B'Av....and yet constantly spoke negatively about former congregants and people he saw as "not frum" (which was basically anyone who did not wear a black hat). My husband was very close with this person and was told these negative things in many conversations. We're talking extremely nasty remarks. Then my husband "parted ways" with this rabbi and -- what a shock -- became the TOPIC of the nasty remarks.

I guess I am a J-Blog now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lag BaOmer Mini-Meme

I was wondering when we would start these! I was tagged by Out of Town and Orthonomics.

It is so hard for me not to listen to music in the car during sefira, so I was really excited to turn on the radio on the way to work. But -- it was ALL talk. Six stations, no music. I'm sure eventually they played something but nothing memorable. The first song that I like that I remember hearing (on the ride home, of course), was "Beautiful" by James Blunt.

I tag Every Artist is a Cannibal. He's a good friend with a great music blog.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jewish at work - the update

Unlike several friends who have jumped into blogging with insightful posts every day, I am having a hard time actually sitting down to write. But I wanted to give an update on my accidental experiment into not dealing with religion at work.

Even before I was Torah-observant, I always had a deep sense of my Jewish identity and was often in a position to emphasize it. I always wrote about Jewish topics for history class, and kept a very basic standard of kashrut that led me to openly not eat certain things at school or social events. I stopped eating red meat when I went to a ranch camp where they killed the cows on-site, and continued this new stringency until I got to the kosher cafeteria in college and hated the dairy meals.

Since I was already observant when I entered the working world, I found that I had to bring up early Fridays immediately. So I was pretty open in general about kashrut, holidays, even davening.

In Ohio, Shabbos in the summer doesn't start until after 8:00, and the earliest it starts in the winter is around 4:30. Pesach is over, Shavuos only uses one weekday, and then the only holiday we need off the rest of this year is Yom Kippur. So there was absolutely no reason why I had to bring up early Fridays, and therefore I started the job without anyone knowing my religious business. And I found, quite by accident, that I kind of enjoyed this! I am not actively hiding anything - and certainly not violating any halacha - but I am not putting my beliefs out there or making an issue of kashrut.

I will continue this tomorrow hopefully as there have been some interesting results.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Temp frustrations

So I was going to post more about the Jewish aspect at work but I am currently very frustrated about the way the temps are being treated. The manager, who is supposed to be my boss, is a sweet and intelligent person who I would love to work closely with - but she is rarely around. Instead, we have a "supervisor" who is the stereotypical mean boss. She is always screaming about something, talks in a harsh manner even in her normal speech, and picks on every little thing. Yesterday she came into the room that i share with another temp, and proceeded to list five things that we were doing wrong. None of these were related to our actual work - I don't think she even knows what we are doing for the boss. She just wants us to LOOK busy. Ironically, within an hour of her tirade, I was in a meeting with the boss being asked my opinion on how to proceed with some changes she is planning, and was assigned a special project for her. So there is no issue with my work habits, but I dread next week when my boss will be out and the supervisor will completely be in charge of us.

I will definitely get back to the Jewish-at-work topic soon. In the meantime, I have started listing some of the J-Blogs that I read and generally agree with. (There are a few not listed that I read regularly because I disagree and enjoy the comments and discussions.) The tuition discussion, because it is close to home, has been particularly interesting. Living Out of Town has a lot of great suggestions, and SephardiLady (Orthonomics) of course has both interesting ideas and detaied links to everyone else talking about the topic.

I want to welcome my friend Cool Yiddishe Mama to the J-Blog world!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Jewish at work...a new perspective

When I started this blog, I was pretty sure it was not going to become just a Jewish Blog. I read a lot of these and find that most of what I believe has been said very well by others, or can be added as a comment to other blogs.

But when I started my long-term temp job two weeks ago, I inadvertently started an experiment of sorts that I would like to share on this blog. In previous jobs, my religious issues had to come up before I was even hired, as I needed to ask for early Fridays off. And of course, with the emphasis of food in the workplace, I usually was discussing my dietary restrictions with everyone.

So it was a different experience looking for a job in Ohio in the spring, when Shabbos doesn't start until after 8:00 and when, after Shavuos, I won't even need any holidays off this year except Yom Kippur. So I was actually able to interview and accept temporary positions without ever having to talk about religion. (Obviously if I was offered a permanent position I would bring up the distant issue of Fridays, but as you all know from earlier posts, no such offer has happened yet...)

So I will post a bit this week about my new experience of not being indentifiably Orthodox at work. It has been strange, and certainly something I could change anytime by being more open -- but I am enjoying having some aspect of my life private, especially as many of my coworkers are openly Christian and I am not really looking to get into religious conversations with them. And I will probably also blog about "the issues" a bit more soon.