I am fortunate to have many friends, some of whom are not frum. Speaking to them about their interactions with other Jews, and especially Lubavitchers, gives me a unique insight that we could all benefit from.
One of them is Miriam, a girl in her late 20’s living in a college town in a southern state, who worked at the local crafts store.
Her passion was art and craftwork, so while she found her job to be below her level of training and education, she was happy to even have a job in such a small town with the current market.
As one of the few activity-based shops in town, the local Chabad Shlucha, who primarily services the needs of college students, frequents this store regularly.
My girlfriend, knowing my desire for her to connect more strongly with her Jewish roots, recently called to share the following with me:
This weekend, the Jewish Women’s Circle in town held an event at the store where she works. When she showed an interest in what they were doing, they asked her if she was Jewish and then if she wanted to join them.
She gladly said yes, and began to make friends with a number of girls. As a post-graduate in a college town, she had been sorely lacking in good friends who weren’t just interested in “partying,” and as a young Jew, she had been sorely lacking in sources of spiritual connection.
I told her that, “as far as girl friends without ulterior motives go, you can’t do better than Chabad girls,” to which she responded, “You know, it’s funny. The rabbi’s wife has come in here a number of times, and has always been kind of rude to me.
“She treated me like a service person, and it’s clear that she comes from wealth and comfort and is used to being served. I’m glad she is acting differently towards me now, but I wasn’t as exited to get to know her as I was the other girls.”
Anyone can see why this gave me pause, and why I felt compelled to share this story with others.
You can also understand why I ask the following – Shluchas, as you go about your day, wherever you may be in the world, it is understandable that you don’t have time to form connections with everyone you meet, or to even find out what their name is and if they are Jewish (my friends name is Miriam – dead give away!), but please, always be polite.
We are the Rebbe’s Shluchim and should be proud to have such a high calling, but should not let this, or our personal backgrounds, be an excuse to act in anything but a respectful and kind manner to everyone we come across.
You never know when the person on the other side of the counter is a yid in desperate need of a spiritual connection, or even just a friend.