Religious at Work: Series Introduction

Religious at Work is a series about my experience balancing a religious lifestyle with the demands of a full-time job in a secular environment.

religious at workBack when I was in college I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation.

Well, that’s not completely true.  I wanted to get married young, have kids and a rich husband to support me as a stay-at-home mom.  A “few” years later, I see that Hashem had a different plan for me- being a working mom in corporate America.

Working outside the home full time can be a rewarding career experience, while also being a religious challenge.  Oftentimes I find myself alone- the only frum one in the department with no one who really “gets” my lifestyle. They don’t understand that I cannot stay late on Friday, I only eat certain foods and that even though it’s really hot, I will not take off my sweater, lol.

I am an FFB (frum-from-birth) and never thought that being frum was much of a challenge.   I knew there were things we didn’t do, but I never truly had a desire to do them. Yes, it was hard not going to the mall on Saturday and not watching TV for 25 hours straight, but I knew that it just wasn’t something we did. Honestly, I never gave it much thought and just worked hard to see the beauty in everything I did.

That all changed once I entered corporate America.

You see, my first job out of college was at a small Jewish non-profit agency. Even though it wasn’t a shomer Shabbos office, we had off for all Jewish holidays, closed the office at 3pm on Friday and it was company policy to order kosher food for all events. That was the life! The position didn’t pay much, but there were definitely some great benefits.

When I left that job and entered a new field, it was an eye-opening experience. I didn’t realize all the challenges that would come my way and how hard I would have to work to maintain the status-quo in my religious life. I always heard about it, but never really believed it.

Through the next series of posts I’ll delve into some specific challenges anyone in the workforce may face.  I specifically chose these topics because they are things that I struggle with on all different levels. What can I say? It’s hard being the only frum person at work.

I hope you’ll chime in and add your 2¢ on each topic.

What type of work environment do you work in?  Are you the only frum person around?  Do your co-workers understand your lifestyle?

*Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and opinions and are in no way meant to hurt anyone or minimize the religious observance of others. Each person has her own challenges and these are my personal feelings and experiences.

Until next time,

  • Sheebs

    I’m excited to read more about this. How often will you post?

    • Thanks! So far there are 5 posts in this series, each on a different topic. I’ll post once every 1-2 weeks. I hope you enjoy them!

  • Menu

    When I was in Israel,I did work in a secular environment. Because they were Jews who were aware of some aspects of religion, it did help them understand. But because they THOUGHT they understood, sometimes it was very hard when they really didn’t.

    • I totally hear that… it definitely adds another dimension to things when people think they understand.

  • I can’t wait to read along! I’m a STAHM but I love reading about other people’s experiences and challenges. I can only imagine what it would be like to be in your position…it doesn’t sound easy.

  • Melissa

    Love this series!!!

  • Rachel Pfeiffer Hayden

    I’m obviously a couple of years late to this series but this is great!! I’ve already read several entries and I’m loving it. I’m a new convert (via Reform) and am trying to figure out how to balance my work life and the fact that I desire to be as observant as possible. Thanks for this series. I can’t wait to read all the posts!

    • Welcome! So glad you’re enjoying and that these posts are helpful!