With Shavuot/Pentecost on the horizon let’s talk Jewish holidays in the workplace. Case in point: That awkward time I started my job the week of Rosh Hashanah and the conversation with my boss went something like this:
“Do you recall when you made the offer that I mentioned I had a few religious holidays coming up?”
Yes, yes, you mentioned there would be a couple of days.
“Right, so let me just give you all the dates right now so you have them in your calendar. This week I will be taking off Thursday-Friday, in two weeks I will again take off Thursday-Friday, the following week, again, Thursday-Friday.”
“Also, every Friday I will have to leave early, and then earlier and earlier. First 4 then 3:30 then 3. You know with the sun setting and everything.”
I see, so even if we are really busy in the office you will still need to leave?
“Yes. But not to worry! I will make up the time. I can come in early/stay late/work over lunch – take your pick.”
“Oh and when the holiday sets of two kick in for the next few weeks, for simplicity sake, consider the Wednesdays like a Friday, so…early Wednesdays instead of early Fridays. Just for those weeks. Does this work?”(AKA do you regret hiring me?)
I guess it does…Wait does this mean you’ll be around over Christmas? You know since you don’t celebrate THAT holiday?
“Yes, yes, yes! You can count on me for that.”
One point for me. Yippee.
And just like that I hit the ground running. Like, literally running. In. Out. In. Out. My new colleagues were completely bewildered but polite. Religious holiday or not, let’s be honest, the optics are a killer. Fun fact, I discovered that the New Year and even the big Day of Atonement more or less resonate, but by the time I got around to talking desert huts I think I lost my credibility.
Never again will I start a job in September, I declared. Once the holidays rolled over, with the inclusion of Thanksgiving, I had not worked a single full week that entire stressful first month. But hey, by the end, my colleagues were so used to the whole thing that I was being asked for weeks if I was planning on coming in that Thursday or Friday. It might get confusing when I tell them that this year it shall be sets of Monday-Tuesday. Throw YK in the mix on a random Wednesday and add to that an early Tuesday.
Enough said. A few months and zero vacation days later, I’m still here so I guess I weathered that one. Rough start though.
Growing up, holidays, Shabbat and kosher were an easy, welcome part of my life. Heck, the holidays were my favourite part. And everyone I interacted with functioned within the same perfectly homogeneous bubble. But as I’ve entered the workforce, my religious observances resurfaced as challenges, occasionally disadvantages. I was suddenly different.
There are still times I find myself feeling out of sync with the rest of the world. Well, I guess that’s because I literally am. I may live in the Diaspora but the rhythm of my life flows in accordance of a vastly different calendar. So you can imagine the thrill of discovering that this year Shavuot falls on Victoria Day over here in Canada! One more vacation day pour moi. British monarchy, I owe you one. To my American friends, better luck next year (#memorialday).
Chag Sameach All:)
– Sarit, the working Yid