Like most people, I am someone who wears many hats, someone who makes many costume changes throughout the day. I am a daughter, a friend, a girlfriend, a caseworker, a professional, an artist, a sibling. The list goes on. You can find me sitting on my roommate’s bed with her eating ice cream and talking all night, or front row at a show in some Allston basement cheering on my boyfriend’s band, or meeting my brothers at a movie theater to gorge on popcorn and soda. But a place that, until this past April, I never guessed you’d find me is a synagogue on a Friday night, a week before Passover.
In fourth grade, my best friend at the time was Jewish. After sleepovers, I was once or twice invited to attend Saturday morning services with the family. I didn’t mind. To the contrary, it was an opportunity to spend more time with my best friend. I embraced it. I reflected on the experience as I sat in Temple Beth Shalom on that Friday night. I was invited to attend services there in conjunction with my work in the Friend 2 Friend Program. And it seemed only fitting, an opportunity to spend a little more time with the clients whose company I enjoy, the work about which I’m passionate.
I’m not Jewish. I’m not religious. My relationship with Judaism starts and ends with my father and our shared love for Klezmer music. But, these days, I work for an organization with deep, proud ties to the Jewish community. And, admittedly, when I started, I expected some culture shock. It turns out, though, I fit right in. I fit in because the staff here share the same devotion to our clients, the same passion for the work.
So about being not-Jewish in a Jewish agency: I’ve learned a little more about the laws of Kashrut, the stories behind the holidays and community resources to help clients and families connect/reconnect with their Jewish identities. But more than that I’ve learned that by examining our differences, we only make them more obvious. Yes, it was different for me to attend Services, however, by focusing on the similarities I share with co-workers and participants I only see a group committed to mentoring, learning, discovering and growing.
– Mary Weinburg, Caseworker