Hey, I am a pro Jew gentile. I have worked in two synagogues, specifically with child care. I am very sorry for the long post and I’m on mobile. I just got a new coworker who loves children, but is easily confused when it comes to the, what I believe is common sense, religion of the Jewish faith and how she describes “demographics”. Im neurodivergent, I learn about the Jewish faith, traditions, and language everyday. I also grew up with traditions that mirror your faith so I am in the opinion that a few generations ago we were Jewish.
She just found out on her first Friday that antisemitism still exists. My director and I tried to explain that cops always come over to synagogues on Shabbat in our area for multiple reasons. From the couple of little shit kids with eggs to the more dangerous antisemitism.
She was openly confused as to what we were talking about. She said that she thought people moved on from that and moved onto Muslim hate. We tried to explain that not only is she safe, but antisemitism does still exist. She adamantly stated she knows shes safe, but was surprised that antisemitism still exists and is still on the fence of it.
She has stated she believed that the Torah came after the Quran, and before the Bible as Christians believe it. I explained that the Torah came first, not just religiously, but historically. She kept bringing it up until she finally Googled it.
Because of how I try to communicate, I usually ask questions and figure out how much people know. She knows nothing about the Jewish traditions and I don’t judge or blame her! It’s her first time working at a Jewish preschool. It’s to be expected. But it’s odd that she didn’t look into it during her first week. However, I would like some basic ways to explain simple concepts and traditions that won’t offend.
I may have offended her when during a shabbat for children she didn’t know what a kiddush cup was and that it contained wine. Unless as a joke song with children, we don’t skimp on Shabbat truths. She gave me a look that was a bit… off. She asked me what’s in the cup amd I answered that it was wine. We were doing an exaggerated drinking motion for the children to dance to. We do the same exaggerated motions for the candles, challah, and other songs.
With the Tu B Shabbat coming up, I was wondering how I can explain these things in a respectful way for everyone involved.
She seemed surprised that while most children looked white, I still held my ground about her version of ‘demographics’. I pointed out the children who were a part of the synagogue and then pointed out the children who are being raised by agnostics like her and then the children who I don’t know about family religious views. I then pointed out that rabbis, Jewish people, and other religious beliefs can all have people in any race or ethnicity. She was more concerned about race? Because I asked about Ethnicity vs. Race which is a big part in school for childcare. We are to look at ethnicity not as much race, as ethnicity includes culture.
How do I explain that Jewish people can be any race?
She has Muslim friends and was raised catholic, but she ignored all catholic or religious beliefs. I have books given to me by the school that I base my curriculum off of. It’s helped me learn, but she wasn’t all that interested in the words. So she may be like my friend who learns by having things explained verbally.
Can you guys give me some prompts or explanations that I can keep in my back pocket? Please, I don’t want to give bad answers or offend anyone. I love my job, I love the Jewish people, I love the rabbi and my director. I want to foster a respect based in truth in my classroom.
She is great with the kids amd we work well together. I just feel like I can learn better answers to basic questions for adults.
Any thoughts, explanations, or prompts would be welcome. I am so sorry for the long post. I hope all of you are safe and well!
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