Be­ing ob­ser­vant in a pres­sure job

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BYROSADOHERTY

JARED KUSH­NER’S ab­sence from the White House on Shab­bat may be con­tribut­ing to chaos in the Oval Of­fice, but com­bin­ing a high-pres­sure role with re­li­gious ob­ser­vance is a chal­lenge many Jews will un­der­stand.

Stephen Rosen­thal, the for­mer head of so­cial me d i a fo r Go o g l e U K , said: “Spend­ing a decade in re­ac­tive PR and me­dia, it was of­ten frus­trat­ing and anx­i­etyin­duc­ing hav­ing to sud­denly cut off com­mu­ni­ca­tions for 24 hours.

“Bu t , th a t said, once you re­alise the sun will come up to­mor­row and there’s noth­ing you can do, you quickly get over it. Ac­tu­ally i t re­ally helps me turn off and en­joy a re­lax­ing day with my fam­ily and friends.”

He said col­leagues and em­ploy­ers had al­ways found his re­li­gious ob­ser­vance fascinating and, at times, been jeal­ous of it.

“One thing my wife and I have al­ways done is in­vite my teams for Shab­bat din­ner so they can see we don’t just go to the pub on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“The idea that you can re­move phones, TV and work from your world for a day, re­plac­ing it with fam­ily, friends and food is ab­so­lutely tan­ta­lis­ing to them.”

It took rab­bis sev­eral cen­turies to jus­tify how sav­ing life could take prece­dence over Sab­bath ob­ser­vance. But luck­ily for Char­lotte Ben­jamin, by the time she grad­u­ated as a doc­tor she was able to at­tend train­ing on keep­ing halachah.

The 44-year-old GP from Hen­don said: “My course cov­ered ev­ery­thing from how you get there if you need to work on a Satur­day to what you can do in hospi­tal.

“When I was work­ing in Lu­ton Hospi­tal as a ju­nior doc­tor, I lived too far away to walk on a Satur­day so I would book my travel in ad­vance that week.

“I’d have to think about what doors to go through, be­cause some of them were elec­tric and so on.

“It might be slightly trick­ier to nav­i­gate but I think I gained a lot from keep­ing Shab­bat. There will be things I’ve missed out on but holis­ti­cally I don’t think it makes a dif­fer­ence.”

Baroness Alt­mann of Tot­ten­ham said that when a min­is­ter for fi­nan­cial con­sumer pro­tec­tion and fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion, she proved it was pos­si­ble for an Ortho­dox Jewish woman to take a lead­er­ship role.

But the mother of three, and Finch­ley United Sy­n­a­gogue mem­ber, said there had been times when keep­ing Shab­bat had meant miss­ing out on work, which she found “frus­trat­ing”.

“I have al­ways man­aged to ar­range my ca­reer around Shab­bat and Yom­tov.

“Now and then it has been a lit­tle frus­trat­ing when some­thing ma­jor has blown up and I haven’t been able to re­act to it.

“And some­times I may have missed op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause I couldn’t call back straight away. But life is full of other op­por­tu­ni­ties so I don’t dwell on such things.”

Barnoss Alt­mann said she com­pen­sated by work­ing later on Thurs­days and com­ing in early on Fri­days to get her work done.

“I also find that although, es­pe­cially at se­nior lev­els, we like to think we are to­tally in­dis­pens­able, it is not re­ally true.

“Mostly, if a team knows in ad­vance that you won’t be there, it’s easy to or­gan­ise cover.”

The 60-yearold ad­mit­ted that it had not al­ways been easy to ex­plain her re­li­gious pr ac t i c e s t o em­ploy­ers.

“I’ v e ha d s ome hi la r i - ou s co n v e r - sa­tions with em­ploy­ers or new col­leagues who sim­ply can’t grasp the idea that some­one is to­tally out of con­tact,” she said.

There will be things I’ve missed out on but holis­ti­cally I don’t think it makes a dif­fer­ence ’ We in­vite my teams for din­ner so they can see we don’t go the pub on Fri­day af­ter­noon ’

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