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,