Do you find that people behave differently in in the workplace due to your Torah observance?
A Simple Jew answers:
If I did not have a yarmulke and beard, I would be indistinguishable from any other white male in the office. My appearance, however, broadcasts to the world who I am and what I believe without me even having to utter a single word. It makes me different, but that is not entirely a negative thing since it seems that people tend to take me more seriously and I tend to earn their respect quicker than if I did not have a beard and yarmulke.
I would also like to believe that my presence, speech, and behavior influences people to behave in a more refined manner. I have noticed that people are generally more careful from uttering profanities in my presence and also a little more careful about their topics of conversation. If they do slip, they will quickly say “Sorry”.
At times, however, I have noticed that people sometimes do not know how relate to me once they first meet me. Once they see that I can speak to them as another human being and not as the rabbi they imagine me to be the “wall of strangeness” quickly disappears.
While people behave differently because of me, as the only person in my building who wears a yarmulke, I am completely aware that I must behave differently because of them as well by ensuring that my behavior is beyond reproach and is consistent with my religious beliefs; by being a good ambassador for the Boss of all humanity.
What an excellent and thought-provoking post this is…
You are right, people do behave differently. I am a native of Holland, and I go back from time to time to visit relatives and friends. I do stand out there with my clothes in the style of Flatbush, Brooklyn (long skirt, sleeves which cover the elbow and often the whole arm, a headcovering,which is unusual for Dutch women;but then, I do look ‘foreign’ to them already being smaller and darker and having different features from most. I makes me aware of whom I am, I always get questions when they hear my accentless Dutch. It keeps me ‘Jewish’. And that is dafka the point.
that’s one of the few things i miss from america — the knowledge that you have to always be on your best behavior because you are wearing a kippa. (the knowledge that you can be performing a kiddush HaShem all the time)
of course the same thing exists over here in Jerusalem — but it’s just not the same. (I’ve considered dressing Hareidi just to get people to start seeing Hareidim differently)
I remember in ’84, when I was first hired as a computer specialist in the government, that I was there, happily modifying source code, while some of the women in the office were having a conversation about 8 feet away from me.
Their conversation was un-tznius (as opposed to not-tznius), and I couldn’t help but hear it. Then, one of the women noticed me, and mentioned to the other women how “cute” it was that I was blushing.
What I noticed from that time on, was that the use of scatalogical references and curse words diminished, and such conversations (as the one described above) no longer took place when I was around.