Religious at Work: Shabbos

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 workWe are so fortunate to live in a world where religious freedom is a given. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it was for people who were required to work on Shabbos or else they would lose their job. What a nisayon!

My work week is technically Monday through Friday, but the occasional Saturday is required. When there is a technology release someone from our team has to test the changes on Saturday to make sure everything will be up and running when Monday morning comes. My group tries to rotate who signs in for testing, but boy do I feel bad that I can’t help with this.

No one ever complained out loud, but I can just imagine what they’re thinking! Not only doesn’t she have to test, but she also gets to leave early the day before!

Leaving Early

As a rule, I’ve always left work 2 hours before Shabbos starts. It gives me an hour to rush home and an hour for last minute prep (or extra traffic). I really try hard not to take advantage of this and if I have to I can work from home on the weekends.

Even though I’m extra diligent in making sure my work is done, I always feel guilty about leaving early. It’s like I know I should be putting in more face time, but I’ve made a religious life choice that prevents me from doing it. Luckily at this point I work from home on Fridays so no one sees me putting on a coat and walking out of the office at 2pm like they used to.

Yeshiva Schedules

Now that my 2 oldest boys are in school, it gets even more complicated. I can’t wait until 4pm to pick them up- they end school at 2pm! I literally have to run out, pick them up and return to my computer. I make it work, but it isn’t easy, especially when there are conference calls and deadlines involved.

How I Manage

So, for those of you who are new to this blog, you may be wondering how I get everything all ready for Shabbos with working full-time. My two “secrets” are freezer cooking and super simple Shabbos menus.

I make sure to shop/prep in advance and have a stocked freezer. There are some weeks that I don’t have to do any shopping for Shabbos and we still have yummy fresh cooked food.

Some things I always keep on hand are: gefilte fish, challah rolls, raw chicken, and frozen veggies that can be easily turned into a kugel. Rice, 5-minute couscous and sweet potatoes are always in my pantry. And if you’ve read my menus you’ll see that we have them almost every week.

Make Shabbos Special

I marvel at my friends who bake challah every week and make fresh chicken soup, but I know my limitations and I just cannot do it. Maybe when my kids are a bit older, but for now, I know that I’m doing what works for us. I make food my family likes and we have wonderful Shabbos meals no matter how simple the menu is.

In order to get into the Shabbos mood after a long day of work I try to do at least one of the following:

  • put on lipstick before lighting candles
  • set the table before/right after I light candles
  • discuss Parsha projects with my kids
  • get dressed in something nice
  • put on a shaitel
  • read something “Jewish”

Doing one of these “special” things helps me focus on what’s happening now. Work is over and Shabbos is starting.

Every week I feel like Shabbos is the ultimate reward for all of my hard work. My job gives me the means to provide my kids with a yeshiva education while Shabbos lets me see the fruits of my labor. I get to spend the day looking at Parsha projects, singing songs and reading class newsletters. There are no electronic distractions and I can finally relax and spend quality time with my family. Isn’t that what life’s really all about?

How do you manage leaving work early? Do you have to make up the time? What special things get you into the Shabbos mood?

Until next time,