America is a melting pot of cultures and beliefs and that goes for the workplace, too. In fact, you can count on meeting many different types of people and exposing yourself to many different cultures when you enter the work world. In many places, one culture is that of Hasidic Jews. The world of Hasidic Jews is usually closed to non-Jews, but they do often take jobs in the secular community, where their customs cross paths with those of the rest of the community.
If there are Hasidic Jews in your workplace, then you may wonder why they always wear the same thing every day. This is because Hasidic law says that men must wear black suits all of the time. These aren't Armani style suits; the jackets are long, usually close to the knees, with white shirts and black shoes. Tzitzis, or fringes or tassels, are also worn somewhere on the body. Women must dress very modestly and cannot wear pants or short sleeves. Hair must be covered, usually with a scarf, but Hasidic women are allowed to wear wigs.
No Office Competition
In the Hasidic community, women receive very little schooling. The main purpose for women is to marry early and bear children. If they do take outside jobs they are limited to secretarial or retail jobs. They also cannot take on leadership roles that put them in direct contact with men. In a nutshell that means that the newly hired Hasidic office assistant will not be fighting you for the next supervisor position that comes up. Since there is no dating among Hasidic Jews, she will also not be any competition in the dating pool either. Hasidic women are matched to their future husbands by a Shadchanim, or matchmaker, so chances are they will already be married upon entering the work world.
Hasidic law requires prayer three times every day, and that includes in the workplace. The prayers have formal names -- Shacharit, Mincha and Maariv. These prayers are said at certain times of the day. The first is before 10 a.m., the next between noon and sunset and the next after sunset. The first prayer, the Shacharit, lasts 45 minutes. The other two take about 15 minutes, and can easily be done during a typical work break. Employment laws allow for time for religious prayer, so employers need to honor this requirement. Knowing that a Hasidic Jew has prayer requirements may prompt you to schedule breaks in long meetings to accommodate the ritual.
No Water Cooler Chatter
A Hasidic Jew is probably not going to discuss what happened on "Dancing with the Stars" at the water cooler. Television is forbidden in the Hasidic culture. Mixing with non-Jews is also against Hasidic law, although work discussions do not count. Just beware that it is highly unlikely that there will be a Hasidic bowling team at the next company outing. Hasidic teachings stress the sinfulness and general bad behavior of non-Jews, so the new secretary is really just not that into you. Hasidic teachings also make it OK to lend money to a non-Jew and charge interest. If a non-Jew makes a mistake in a financial dealing with a Hasid, it's OK not to disclose it.
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