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Out Of The Mailbag: (Be Nice, Think Twice)

yw logo2.jpgDear YWN Editor, 

I’m a married woman who is currently looking for a job.

The reason I’m writing to you is because I’m fed up with everybody’s sage advice, regarding my unemployed status in general, & how I should spend my looooong day specifically.

Typical everyday scenario: I meet someone on the street. (The telephone doesn’t discriminate either.) The hello/how are you’s are exchanged, and then comes the dreaded question: “So where do you work?” pause.

“Well.. I’m actually looking now”.

Some have innocent questions:

“So what do you do with your day?”

Others find it extremely noble to inform me of the importance of working: “You gotta go out! It’s not normal/healthy to sit home all day!” (Did I ever notify anyone that I “sit home all day”?)

Others try an original twist of the theory of positive feedback: “You must find something real soon”……

Occasionally, but very rarely someone actually gives me chizuk.

My point of this letter is simple. Not pity. (I have enough of that from my own dear self) Please, Just – THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!

I am am fully aware that a person must go out & work – I told you that myself when you asked me what I’m doing these days!

About your concern that I’m bored all day – did it ever occur to you that a person can occupy themselves at home as well? Or go out & “erledig” things outside?

To the ones that are so worried that I can’t afford my rent – Would you like to donate some cash? If not why are you asking?

Because you want to find out if my parents are supporting me, while I keep my feet up on the table all day, while you have to sweat for your bread? Well they’re not!

One last line to the ones who say, “but how come you’re still looking after so many weeks, there are so many ads every week”?

First of all, thanks. If not for your deep insight it wouldn’t even dawn upon me to check them……

Another thing: A)Many ads repeat themselves weekly. B)90% of the potential employers wish me their sweet goodbyes when I mention that I’m married – (not that long, by-the-way) and obviously, with each passing day since my wedding, I become more “at risk”….

So the bottom line is – try to be sensitive to those out there looking at the clock & hoping for a “yeshua”.

If you truly feel bad for them, help them in their search but please, please keep the thoughtless comments to yourself.

Thank You.

From a frustrated yet hopeful YWN reader.

P.S. now, after reading my long letter, you have the answer as to how I fill up my days. 😉

NOTE: Yeshivaworld welcomes your “Out Of The Mailbag” letters & comments. Letters may be edited or shortened for clarity. Submit all letters by clicking HERE – titled “Mailbag”.

The views expressed in this column reflect the opinions of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Yeshiva World News LLC. These individual opinions are also in no way meant as a P’sak Halacha or Hashkafa. As with all matters, be sure to consult with a Rov with all questions.

58 Responses

  1. Excellent letter — and good luck in your job search! One thing I do see for sure is your proficiency in writing — most of the “at-risk newly marrieds” are unfortunately not as fluent in it these days. So, even though I do not know what type of job you are looking for, try to capitalize on your strengths, namely good writing skills!

  2. I agree! people do this with everything. I am, as my screen name suggests, a bochur who has been looking for a while for that basherte girl. How many times do I have to hear “you gotta get married already”? There are actually people out there who think that if you’re not married after going out with a couple of girls, you don’t really want to. The problem is that people don’t know how to put themselves into other people’s situations. Here’s a suggestion: take the most overwhelming situation in your life right now and imagine that the other person has the same problem just with a different name to it. you will soon see that everyone has their own issues and just because you have it easy in one area, doesn’t mean that everyone else has the same success. This can be applied to parnassah, shidduchim, children, gidul banim, limud torah, tefillah, getting up on time and pretty much any and every challenge HKB”H has to offer human beings.

  3. I officially lost my job but am still working for the company until they close up shop, and even while working everyone is so concerned about what i’m gonna do. I some people are asking so they can help and some just want to go and tell the next person that I have no job. I often get the question “are you getting a severence?”… who are you! do I ask to see your tax return? I mean how nosy are people gonna get?

  4. it’s up to you to work on your Middos to contend with and accept people’s comments as is appropriate according the words of Chazal and the teachers of Mussar.

    it’s not up to you to worry about the Middos of those others (unless you think you can appropriately help them to improve)

  5. I can definitely relate to what you’re saying. When I got married I rushed to find a job B4 I was “showing.” When that didn’t work out, it was very hard to find someone who would hire me (and yes, I did have very good qualifications!). I actually never did, but I wish you the best of luck.

  6. To the writer, where are you located? Lakewood, Brooklyn, Monsey, other? I always hear of companies looking for employees. I can send you the info.

  7. Do you have a problem with the dreaded question itself? Or is it only the followups that bother you?

    As it stands, when I meet people with whom I’m merely acquainted, but not intimately familiar with, I must be cautious and may not mention, for fear of offending those without, at the very minimum:

    1) Children
    2) Schools
    3) Babysitters
    4) Shidduchim
    5) And, now, jobs

    I know what happens next: everyone writes letters to the Yated whining that they’re ignored in the street because they don’t have children/schools/babysitters/shidduchim/jobs.

  8. I have a great idea- why dont you go down to the PCS (Professional Career Services)office- they help a lot of people find jobs. You should tell people that you are looking for a job and let them know how qulified you are because many times people get their jobs just thru word of mouth. How about posting your resume because I might have a possition in my office for you.
    another thing- why does everyone care so much about what everyone else thinks? if you do something then you should feel 100% comfortable with it.

  9. #5- I’m the writer of this letter. You are right that it’s illegal to ask, but I don’t have much of a choice in this matter. I live in a Chassidishe community, where the atmosphere in most businesses isn’t that professional, so when I call someone in response to an ad they feel free to squeeze out any information possible.
    As a matter of fact – 4 weeks after my wedding an office manager asked me if I’m planning to come back FULL TIME OR PART TIME AFTER MY BABY!!!
    what kind of ludicrous question when I hadn’t ever informed her that I was even “on my way”!

  10. I went through the same thing, but I had already had a baby. I used to take off my rings for the interviews and try to avoid mentioning anything about my family life. One interviewer was frum and asked me point blank if I had a baby and who would watch the baby. I was very upset and told him that this was illegal! Plus, if I didn’t think I could find babysitting, I wouldn’t have gone on the interview! Eventually, I was offered that job, and I turned it down. After that experience, I no longer took off my rings. Instead, I stressed my enthusiasm about the position I was interviewing for, and spoke about my talents and capabilities. B”H I found a great job, and I have been there for a year.

  11. #12- when someone steps on your big toe it might hurt a bit. – Big deal. But when there’s an ingrown toenail – boy does it kill!
    Same with someone in a matzev like the writer. Because she’s in a painful situation the comments hurt twice as much.

  12. TTBN:

    1) Hatzlacha Rabba – I know the feeling of being unemployed being as I was laid off a few days before Pesach. You are correct the days are loooong.

    2) a recent post mentioned a site called Sephardic Angel fund – I am not sure if you saw that post maybe they can help you.

    3) B’Ezrat HaShem you will find something that you enjoy soon. Perhaps you should take the advice I saw in some of the posts about your writing style – maybe you can become a freelance humor article writer you have a flair for writing.

  13. Excellent writing and no spelling mistake to boot.

    How right you are zol der eibershter help you to find parnuse bekurev.

    But just so you understand, I have an office, needed a worker which took me 2 months to train. A young newlywed like you with ONE baby. Every day I worry that she’s leaving because der eibershter helped her………….

    Is this any way to run a business? Nevethless I did it, took the chance and she’s a EXCELLENT devoted employee……….but for how long after so much training?


  14. Your letter is excellent! As far as people`s nosy and insensitive questions to you remember that too many people do not think before they talk. Don`t take it to heart. Just ignore it!

    It might be a good idea to look for employment outside of the chassideshe community. As you have discovered they are looking at your stomach with a magnifine glass even before you get a chance to sit down.

    I fully appreciate everything you have to say and I am mispallel that you find a job very soon.

  15. #19 “Is this any way to run a business?” yes it is. perhaps you are successful in your business because you help out these young couples. Farshteist?

  16. #19 – Thank you. I’ll be 20 in one month iy”h.
    Let me add that I live in Williamsburg. Many “potential employers” who turn me down, end up taking 11th grade graduates instead, (a.k.a. “barely hatched”) and I don’t feel that they necessarily offer the company more than I would.

  17. why cant people adopt the atitude my business. not yours. no one invited you. stay out. as far as stupid comments (as refered to in #20) people make comments all the time and many stupid comments turn out to be L”H or the like, remember the days when people used to think?!?! May Hashem give you much continued hatzlacha in this area and in all that you do.

  18. I truly appreciate all the kind words above. I would actually LOVE to land a job in the field of writing – as a number of you have suggested.
    If anyone has any ideas as to how I could go about it, please reply here, or contact the editor.
    Thanks again!

  19. while we’re at it, the “resume” business is also unfair.
    why should a person who has excellent capabilities, but happens not to have a diploma or at least 3 years of experience – as many ads quote, have to wait longer on line?
    judge a person by what he/she has to offer, not by how fancy his/her resume appears.

  20. #25: I agree. Why should someone straight out of yeshiva or seminary be any worse than someone with relevant experience? Why should a degree in a particular field give someone an advantage over someone without one? I believe that there’s a nursing shortage. Why don’t you see if a hospital will take you? Explain that while you don’t have a fancy degree to put on your resume, they should judge you by what you have to offer. Furthermore, given that the experience is also unnecessary, perhaps you can be the director of nursing. Why should the guy who’s been a nurse or manager for 20 years go before you?

  21. #19 Sorry. Reread your comment now. Thought you wrote “how old are you”..
    By the way, not all secretaries need so much training – it depends on the type of work the position entails.

  22. be happy you are not the husband out of work. imagine being asked the same questions from nosy people. trust me, it would be even worse.

  23. #27. obviously we’re talking about jobs that DON’T require much experience or a diploma. for example: teaching. Everyone was a first-year teacher at a certain point, no? Does a diploma instantly turn you into a fantastic teacher?

  24. #11 writes “I know what happens next: everyone writes letters to the Yated whining that they’re ignored in the street because they don’t have”

    Enlighten us all please. What other purpose does that Yated have besides exactly your point?
    Isn’t that why we buy it?
    We get our news as it breaks from Yeshiva World, and buy the Yated to see a bunch of whining babies, from the editors on down.

    Please explain yourself better, or I’ll report you to Lipschutz and his henchmen (aka the wannabe Mashgichim of Klal Yisroel)

  25. i went through the same thing…it was horrible! at one point i started saying that i work for my husband! just to keep them from giving all this unwanted advice…(as if people really care…they’re just nosy.) thanks for bringing up this issue! people should definately stop asking such private questions….stick to the weather or the news…hatzlcha!!!

  26. People will always ask dumb questions.

    You can apply the stupidness with any matter that the community is going through.

    A few years ago I went to be menachem ovel a person who lost a 2 year old kid and some idiot mentioned to the mother “oh, at least you have 6 other children”.

    Some people are just inconsoderate and just so stupid.

    Why some people feel they always have to talk and talk and talk is beyond the human mind.

    Siyag lechachma shtika.

  27. You mention that 90% of the ads in the papers are the same ones from week to week.

    Stay away from these companies.

    These are companies that do not pay well and take advantage of everyone. As an employer I must admit hiring frum woman is also a challenge.

    I always have to deal with people coming in late and after a while I am not interest in excuses.

    the excuses I have to deal with is
    a) my kid missed his bus
    b) I had to take him to the doctor
    c) he forgot his lunch at home
    d) My kid is sick
    e) the baby sitter did not show up on time
    f) my car broke down
    g) I could not find a parking spot
    h) I had a chasunah last night and did not come home until…….

    I) I had a doctors appt.
    j) I’m having a baby…
    k) maternity leave……
    L) my kid has a graduation….

    (I found out that the kid is graduating NOT HIGHSCHOOL but KINDERGARDEN!!

    The list goes on and on. This is the reason why many frum employers hire goyim.

  28. #30: Every nurse was a first-year nurse, too, at some point. I’m not interested in arguing about just how much a teaching degree is worth, but it’s probably safe to assume that there is some training involved. I certainly think it’s fair to require a teacher to have some training or experience. And don’t start with the chicken/egg issue; people gain experience in classrooms without degrees by working as teaching assistants for several years for virtually no pay.

  29. #36- I know plenty of teachers who gained their experience without having to serve as teachers’ assistants.
    As a matter of fact 2 of my friends got high school positions straight out of 12 grade!
    Maybe that’s going a bit extreme, & I admit you’ll only have this in Chassidish schools, but at the end of the day, their success rate basically measures up .

  30. To Burich (#11, #27, #35):

    Did you notice how much chesed there is interspersed between your comments? Bayshanim, Rachmanim and Gomlei Chassodim are hallmarks of a Jews.

    I think that you, and many others like you have confused the conservative (vs. liberal) position on personal responsibility with the Torah position. The Torah requires us to do our best despite our circumstances. The Torah also requires us to develop a very high level of midos bain adam l’chavero. The kitrug that is created when a person causes another to cry out to H-Shem in pain is really not something anyone should be taking a chance with.

    You may want to take some time to learn hilchos ona’as devorim. Turns out, you are not allowed to remind someone of something that gives them pain – EVEN IF YOU THINK IT SHOULDN’T. By the way, that’s not a chumra. It’s D’Oraisa. (It can be learned from the gemara’s example that it is ossur to remind a person that his parent is a ger. This would not be a reflection of something he did wrong. It can even be considered a compliment. But it causes them to think about something that they wish was different.)

    So if in fact you can’t think of things to say that won’t hurt anyone, you do have a halachic shaila. I think it would be permitted for you to remain silent.

    I do have some suggestions for what people can say instead of asking questions, or bringing up certain topics in an unfamiliar situation:

    1. You look good today.
    2. It’s so good to see you!
    3. Isn’t it a nice day? (yes, I know. The Weather.)

    I know it might get a little quiet after that, and you may not sound so cool. Proceed to step 4-

    4. If you take the time to learn something new every day, you will have something intelligent to share. Be it a halacha, a d’var Torah, or an interesting fact about h-Shem’s amazing world.


  31. Sorry you feel this way. But I seriously got a kick out of your ending line of “P.S. now, after reading my long letter, you have the answer as to how I fill up my days.” when you previously wrote that you don’t like when people ask you, “So what do you do with your day?”“You gotta go out! It’s not normal/healthy to sit home all day!” (Did I ever notify anyone that I “sit home all day”?).

  32. many people ask you where you work as light conversation. It’s not meant personally and shouldn’t be taken so seriously, even though it may be painful because your in the matzav. Hatzlacha finding a job and don’t forget…hashem is the only one who has the key to parnassa-pray to HIM!

  33. Where does it say that a Jewish frum woman must work? If it is for parnasa considerations it is understandable. But in some workplaces the interaction and environment can have a harmful influence on a woman and that can carry, chas veshalom, over to the home. There are plenty of constructive ways for a woman to fill her day — davening, Tehillim, chesed,shiurim, other spiritual projects, volunteer work, etc etc.

  34. #40 – Obviously my last line was sarcastic. (It didn’t take longer than 10 minutes to write it.)
    #41 – It’s not the original question of “where do you work” that bothers, (as I wrote in a previous comment) it’s the intelligent reaction often that follows.

  35. been there before, so I feel for you.

    the answer I gave ppl who asked such questions was: “I’m working for the UN” (meaning: UN-employed)

  36. I whine all day and think of ‘poor me’ as a victim
    Anything you say may be held against you.
    (a little sarcastic humor)

  37. My daughter, who’s winding down her year in Israel is also in the same prediciment. Personally, I think things were better when we answered want ads in the NY Times (at least it was good for something), then some of the outright misleading ads that’s she’s responded to that appear on various websites.

    This is a good letter, but may I strongly suggest that you emphasize any experience you’ve had. For example, did you help edit your HS yearbook? Help organize a chessed activity? Work with children as part of your chessed? There’s a lot of “unpaid labor” we’ve all done, but highlighting these experiences can show a potential employer that you’re organized and focused and can handle projects. Much more valuable then saying “I’m a married lady at home”.

    BTW, anyone out there with a legitimate PT job for a seminary girl who is very talented in art, writing, knows computers, etc. please get in touch with me through YWN (thank you editor), and I will forward your inquiries to my daughter. She’ll be back in NY on June 15th.

  38. to the letter-writer-
    i’m in the same situation, and someone once said to me (about someone else in my field who did have a job) ‘well SHE has a job, and she’s making a lot of money’! can you believe that? and i probably stomach many other of the same insensitive questions and comments as you do, so you’re in good company. the lesson to the general public is, if you ask someone about a job and they respond that they have not yet found one, do not probe any further (unless, as mentioned, you have their best interests in mind and think that you can help them). it can be really painful for the person to be forced to talk about that sore spot in their lives.


  40. #18: Writer for who? I don’t think that the Yated pays the writers of those humorous letters (really not).

    #31: A Classic!

  41. proudyid, doctors usually start working as part of their training while they’re in medical school. During that time, not only are they unpaid, but they are paying medical school tuition for the privilege of receiving that training. Then they work for 3 or more years as residents, during which time they are paid a relatively small salary that generally works out to less than minimum wage, when divided by the number of hours worked.

    As far as other professions are concerned, sometimes there are unpaid internships available.

    I’m not looking for a job now, but in the past when I was looking I did encounter many comments that I didn’t appreciate, so I can definitely empathize with the original poster. Looking back, I realize that not all were badly intended. It’s just that even generally nice people sometimes say stupid things, or say well-meant comments in stupid ways. One woman said, “I can’t believe you haven’t found a job yet!” which I found insulting; when I knew her better, I realized that she thought I was so well-qualified she thought I could find a job easily.

  42. #50: you are right on the money. Since when does entry-level mean 2 years experience in the field? There really aren’t any jobs other than sales jobs that are willing to train. Unfortunately the way the market is today even those entry-level jobs looking for 2 years experience are being filled by people with 5 years experience willing to take a pay cut. Hopefully all of us struggling to find jobs will be zoche to find position very soon.

  43. I totally agree with you. I just got employed after being around for 2 whole months w/o a job. I got the most hateful comments – you are being lazy, you just don’t want to work, you’re not looking hard enough…etc. I just started working on Monday and BH it has been going great so far. Yes, i enjoyed my time while i wasn’t working, making the best of the situation, BUT the nasty and disgusting comments were terrible. One girl told me- It’s just because you don’t have patience to work. How nasty could that be, as i sit at home every day bored stiff? Yes people should think before they talk, even if they are joking to their friends. There is truth behind every joke and it really hurts. Good luck finding a job and Hatzlacha! Don’t let those insensitive people hurt you. Just learn that you should think before you speak next time. All the best.

  44. #34 musicoutlet:

    I worked for a very large international company – at one point with well over 100,000 employees. here are some examples of why some of my non-jewish co-workers/employees came in late or missed worked (unplanned)

    a) my kid missed his bus
    b) I had to take him to the doctor
    c) he forgot his lunch at home
    d) My kid is sick
    e) the baby sitter did not show up on time
    f) my car broke down
    g) I could not find a parking spot (we were in suburbia so this one doesn’t apply) Traffic was terrible was more utilized
    h) I had a party last night and did not come home until…….
    I) I had a doctors appt.
    j) I’m having a baby…
    k) maternity leave……
    L) my kid has a graduation (yes, from kindergarten.

    oh, the list goes on and on and on and…

    wow – isn’t this list similiar to yours – amazing!

  45. Just checking up on my letter. I have to say, the last few comments have been really encouraging.
    (especially after I got another one today. -When I told a family member that I don’t possess an air conditioner yet due to lack of money, she replied, “Hust ah breira.. don’t be so picky.”)

  46. Since I know YOU, and YOU know ME,
    My only advice to you at the moment would be,
    A solution in the meantime, I’d say quite easy,
    during my “BORING WORK DAY” to keep me company,
    A one-girl office could be sort of lonely,
    And even more that there’s a knowledge to me,
    At the time I am walking to work, you’re still in bed, so cuddly,
    Now the tables are turned, don’t you see,
    who is rather designed to have that glorifying feeling of self-pity?????

  47. Attn: Feivel, comment#8

    Where did you learn that a person work on their middos to accept tzar from another? Please use exact quotes, otherwise, what you are doing is #1 blaming the victim for the insensitivity of others & #2 uprooting the Torah concept of Onaas D’varim, when your words make someone else feel bad. D’oraysoh.

    One is not even m’chuyav to accept tzar from a parent altz kibud av v’eim; how would another person be any better than a parent. The gmara gives a case of how a person shouldn’t say “where do I hang up my coat” in the home of someone who had a relative hung by the government.

    You are talking frum, but being not only highly insensitive, but you advice is a perversion of the rachmanus that yidden are supposed to have. How dare you tell someone who is suffering from the unthinking comments of others that they need to work on themselves. If you really believe that, you need to work on yourself!!!

  48. To the writer:
    The truth is, nobody can really feel your pain as much as you do, and nobody can really offer solace. The one thing you need is a job, and only that will cure you of the pain. Even if people weren’t directly insensitive, tiny comments, even unintended, would remind you of it all, and it would really hurt.
    For my own situations, I’ve found that a strong relationship with Hashem really helps. When people start making less and less sense to you, you turn to Hashem and put it all into a good chapter of Tehillim. And the pain goes away, because you know it is being taken care of.

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