1. I’m Incredibly Grateful to You for the Time I Have Off

It’s not a personal choice to leave early on Friday and be off Saturday and Jewish holidays. For a Jew who lives in accordance with Torah law this is completely nonnegotiable, even if there is a million-dollar deal and a bonus on the table, and deadlines screaming from all directions. And the things we can’t do are not just what most people call “work.” There are 39 general categories of creative effort that we avoid, which include cooking, using electronic devices (no e‑mail!), talking on the phone, writing, and even driving.

If you want to have a heads-up on when I’ll be requesting breaks, have a look at this calendar. Jewish holidays begin before sundown, which means I’ll need to be home after my commute by that time.

I realize that’s a lot of time, but I am absolutely committed—to you and the company—to compensate for that time by working early, late, or Sundays.

2. Most People Would Never Guess What I Do on My Days Off

While the spiritual rest and recharging on the Sabbath and holidays is real and essential, these days are always full and quite busy. I spend large chunks of Saturday and holidays in the synagogue praying. We spend a lot of time with family and friends at meals (including setting up for and cleaning up from those meals), night and day.

Learn about Shabbat

3. No Matter How Good It Tastes, If It Isn’t Kosher I Can’t Have It

(Photo: Chabad of Denmark)
(Photo: Chabad of Denmark)

Kosher laws are intricate and complex. The kosher laws are not related to health, nutrition or cleanliness. Think of it as a spiritual allergy. We also can’t use utensils that have been used with non-kosher food, so if I have a coffee cup or microwave that I’ve designated for my personal use, that’s why. I appreciate it if no one uses it (or even washes it) unless I know exactly what you are doing and am okay with it.

Learn all about Kosher

4. Married Jewish Women Cover Their Hair, Even If You Can’t See It

Jewish law dictates that married women cover their hair. Some use a kerchief or hat; others wear a wig. Sometimes the human-hair wigs look so good that only a fellow wig-wearer can spot it.

Read: Why Do Jewish Women Cover Their Hair?

5. I Won’t Shake Your Hand

Most of us follow the halachic ruling that unrelated men and women do not engage in any form of touch that expresses trust, affection or friendship. Yes, a handshake is just a handshake, but for me it’s off-limits. It’s certainly not personal, or any indication of my regard for you.

Read: What’s Up With Orthodox Men and Women and the Handshake?

6. Most Jews Are Neither Rich Nor Stingy

Contrary to common myth, all Jews are not rich. We span the full gamut from outrageously wealthy to rich to comfortable to just-getting-by to living paycheck-to-paycheck and deeply in debt.

Watch: Jews, Judaism and Money

7. I Truly Respect Your Faith, But I Can’t Participate in Any Activities Related to It

Jews believe in the One G‑d who created heaven and earth. Our beliefs are set down in the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings (all of which Christians call the Old Testament, but for us they are still new, fresh and relevant). We don’t believe in Jesus—not even a little—and we don’t celebrate Christmas.

If you invite me to a church wedding, I may have to skip part (or all) of it. Same goes for church funerals.

Read: Why Can’t Jews Go to Church Funerals and Jewish Coworker Not Joining Christmas Gift-Giving

8. We Believe That G‑d’s Goodness and Direction Are for Everybody

Although we Jews do not believe that everyone must be Jewish—and we appreciate when you reciprocate in kind and don’t try missionizing to us—Judaism does have a universal message. Particularly, there are the 7 Noahide Commandments which G‑d commanded all human beings.

9. Fact of Life: Not All Jews Are the Same

You may have observed that not all of us are homogeneous. Some Jews are very observant, and some seem less so. That’s just the way life is. But it does not mean that my observance is optional or “extra credit.” To me, every single one of the commandments (even those overlooked by other Jews) is infinitely important.

10. Our Culture Is Based on Asking and Answering Questions

If there is something I do that’s strange, just ask me. I’ll be happy to do my best to explain. In general, it is always better to speak up than to ignore.

See our vast Q&A Section, or Ask the Rabbi for yourself on a question that you may have!