May 19, 2011

The Urge to Reach Out

So, I was at a store today picking up something I'd ordered online (a straight jean skirt that actually fits, yay DKNY!). The girl checking me out was awkward, but friendly. My Jew-dar failed me on this one, but I'll admit that my gay-dar is better than my Jew-dar.

I handed her my card to pay.

Clerk: How do you pronounce your name?
Me: Chaviva (emphasis on that chet, you know)
Clerk: Is that a Jewish name?
Me: Yup. It's Hebrew!
Clerk: Oh, neat. I'm Jewish, too.
Me: Ahh, nice.
Clerk: My Hebrew name is Sarah Rochel (yes, Rochel, not Rachel).
Me: That's a very traditional Hebrew name.
Clerk: Are you from Israel?
Me: Nope. My American name is Amanda, but I switched it to Chaviva, my Hebrew name, because they mean the same thing. I really identify with my Hebrew name.
Clerk: Oh.
Me: What's your English name?
Clerk: (smiling) Ashley
Me: (smile back)
Clerk: I've never been to Israel. I want to go.
Me: I'm going in two weeks! It will be my fourth trip. I think everyone should go once, no matter their religion. There's a lot of history there.
Clerk: Well, have a good trip.

As I walked away from the clerk, I had this urge to turn around and hand her my business card. I walked almost hesitatingly out of the store. I got in my car and thought to myself, This must be what Lubavitchers feel when they meet Jews and do the opposite of what I did, and act. 

Would it have been weird for me to give her my card? I sort of got the impression this girl was reaching out. She didn't appear to be observant, but she seemed to have this urgency in her voice. Should I have asked her if she's considered going on Birthright? She was probably in her mid-20s. I feel like I did her, and the Jewish people, a disservice by not doing or saying something.

What was I supposed to do? I don't know. But I felt this urge to reach out and light a fire in her neshama.


Bethany said...

I feel that urge all the time. I call myself Chabad-lite. I would go back and give her your card :)

Christi said...

I agree with Bethany! You know where she works. Go back and give her your card. :)

H. Ilana Newman said...

Go back, buy something cheap, and give her your card! You never know :)

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Well, if she's never been to Israel, she's never been on Birthright...

I don't know. I don't think you should beat yourself up about it. Sometimes it's just nice to talk to people you have a connection with.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@SS I fixed that. What I was thinking and what I wrote were two different things :)

Lily said...

Well, I personally would have written down the information about Birthright Israel!! At least the website. Especially since she mentioned never having been to Israel, and she's Jewish. As long as some denomination of Judaism actually considers her Jewish, she'd be able to go.

I am all about getting more Jews to Israel through Birthright! Maybe that could be the catalyst that would enable her to learn more about Judaism.

G-Girl! said...

When you are in the area, just drop by and leave your business card there, you might make a new friend, gay or Jewish or both. LOL! If she is gay, then if might have been one of the reasons the is off-the-derech. As you know, not easy to be both, when you background is orthodox. IMHO

Yitzchak said...

@G-Girl!--If her background was Orthodox, wouldn't she know how to pronounce "Chaviva"? Just sayin'...

thejewishteen said...

@yitzchak, chaviva pronouced her name epthassing the chh sound becuase she didn't know/have any impressions of her yet.

i agree with @g-girl. i think she probably is otd. probably misses it and was trying to talk 2 chaviva to feel part of the community again.

or it could just be its fun to find out if someone is jewish. this girl did a really good bagel.

bageling someone:

asking if there jewish:

i tried to bagel someone, she was catholic.....

Glad Hatter said...

Love the bagel!

I stole a fab idea from a friend. I made up some contact cards on VistaPrint with my contact info plus "find me on FB &" and "join us for shabbos some time!" to hand out. Super convenient for meeting people on shabbos, but also good for the bagel. has some great tips and resources for handling the bagel. (disclosure: I used to work there)

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