I am a shomer Shabbos Jew who works in a small office with a non-Jewish boss. My boss is amazing: She lets me leave early on Fridays in the winter, and is really good about accommodating the 13 days I take off each year for Yom Tov. However, a young Jewish woman who was recently hired is taking early Fridays and all the holidays off as well — even though she is secular! It really annoys me; I feel like she is piggybacking on my religious observance to take these holidays off, while not actually observing them. I am afraid that if my boss finds out, she’ll think I am doing the same thing. What do I do?
This is a super unpleasant situation. But you don’t need to be so livid! I get it: On the one hand, you don’t want to rat out your fellow Jew; on the other, you don’t want your Yom Tov “privileges” taken away. My advice is: Tread lightly. This lies somewhere in between don’t do anything and tell your boss that this girl is a cheater pants.
Here are some options:
Option 1: Take said woman aside and gently ask a couple of questions about where she goes to shul, or who her rabbi is, etc. Before Yom Tov, ask her what she’s doing. Only do this once in a great while. You don’t want to seem like you’re grilling her. It could be that she actually keeps Shabbos and Yom Tov and she’s just not Orthodox; you might assume things from how someone dresses or what she buys for lunch, but you don’t know. If she is observant in her own way, she has as much right to take off as you do.
Option 2: Extend an invitation to join your family for Shabbos, come over for Chanukah one night, or take her to dinner with your family to a kosher restaurant and get to know her better. Find out where she’s coming from in a non-judgmental and friendly way.
Option 3: Leave the whole matter alone. This is a case in which you may not be able to win for losing (I just thought about using this phrase today and hope to use it more in the future). That is, if you tell your boss about the situation, she will likely be confused and not really able to discern the subtleties between your situation and the young woman’s. She may just think you are a tattletale and probably doesn’t have time for this kind of thing. Remember, you need to make a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s name) wherever you are.
Another thing to consider — and, in the interests of dan l’chaf zechus (judging favorably), it should be your first thought — is that maybe this young woman is trying to be a more observant Jew, not put you in a bind. You definitely can’t unilaterally decide how someone should be observing Shabbos or Yom Tov. We are all on a journey, and this young lady may just be at the beginning of hers.
All the best,
A reader responds regarding “More Than Flirting with Disaster” (Nov. 30 issue). This is an edited version of an online conversation:
I didn’t agree with your response to Sara that she should not get involved in Sam and Rebecca’s situation, wherein Sam is seeing other women he meets online. Sam may be exposing Rebecca to serious health risks by his actions, making it a potential case of pikuach nefesh (saving a life).
I stand by what I said in my response: Sara should not be an intermediary between Sam and Rebecca. However, as is generally a good idea when we need halachic (Jewish law) guidance, I did suggest that Sara speak to a rabbi about the halacha of lashon hara (derogatory speech) in this situation. Perhaps I should have mentioned pikuach nefesh; however, like Sara, we don’t know what Sam is actually doing and cannot extrapolate this far. Thanks for writing in!
All the best,