By Laura Seymour
Often in the adult classes that I teach, I talk about the many entryways to Judaism. There are so many different ways that we define our Jewishness. There are cardiac Jews (“I don’t do anything but I feel Jewish in my heart”); gastronomic Jews (“I love Jewish food!”); sports Jews (“I play basketball at the J”); and more and more. Author David Forman wrote a book titled “50 Ways to Be Jewish” and says that his book is a Jewish “self-help” book — it gives 50 entryways or possibilities on how we connect.
It begins with Way No. 1: Your Name. Way No. 50 is Your Instincts and there is a wide range of ways in between. Way No. 26 is “Your Profession or I’d Rather Be a Sparrow Than a Snail” (from the Simon and Garfunkel song, “El Condor Pasa”). What an interesting title and what a question — is there a Jewish profession today? (And we are not talking about being a rabbi or Jewish teacher or being the Shabbat Lady!) There may not be a specific Jewish profession but there is a Jewish way to relate to the job you have, how satisfied you are and how well you do your job. Here is what Forman says:
“The 26th way to be Jewish is to guarantee that whatever our profession may be, we not only perform our job to the best of our ability, but we also safeguard the human side of our work. It matters little if you are ‘a sparrow or a snail,’ a bricklayer or a nuclear physicist, a manager or a laborer; the important thing is to maintain your decency, sensitivity, dignity. After all, the famous biblical quote, ‘Man does not live by bread alone’ (Deuteronomy 8:3), was not uttered in a vacuum. It is presented as a work ethic. Its message is simple and direct: A job is performed well when one has an appreciation for all that surrounds him or her, for what came before and what will come after (based on Deuteronomy 8:4-10).”
This is something to think about for yourself but also for your children. The best way to teach is simple: Model, MODEL, MODEL! Demonstrate for your children how to make your job special — be passionate and dedicated to making the world a better place through your daily work.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
By Laura Seymour