Working at Riverside, Jamie is surrounded by people who desire to make people’s lives better. Jamie says,
“seeing people live the same values that I try to live up keeps me striving to be a better person, employee and person of Jewish faith”.
It’s Inter-Faith week and, as a Jewish person, I was asked to say a few words about Judaism.
In short, being Jewish is very simple; ‘be a good person, do good deeds for people, keep questioning, keep learning, we all make mistakes, it’s much harder to hate than love, and we all have a little divinity in us.’. These simple attributes are not exclusive to us Jewish people as most people try to achieve them. Judaism just keeps these simple values wrapped in rich tradition, beautiful rituals, and a mandala of teachings.
Judaism is about the many paths up the mountain, so to speak. There are no hard-line rules. In Judaism, personal observances differ from Jew to Jew. Women can become Rabbis. Shabbat was about mindfulness before there was personal wellness. Honouring the matriarchy is important; I love my mother lighting the Shabbat candles and giving the first blessing. I love Pasech, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hoshana, Yom Tov, and Hannukah. I love going to Shul (which I should do more often) and meeting family and friends. I love the cosiness of our traditions. I love the talks and debates on a wide variety of subjects. I love the rich diversity of opinions that Jewish people have: two Jewish people, three opinions!
It’s incredibly hard to say what makes being Jewish so special to me. Why I love being Jewish. Is it that there is hardly any reference to a hell in our teachings? In my 20s, when I was going through an existential crisis, I asked about how we could forgive evil? My Rabbi said “Everyone, even a Hitler, will one day be forgiven. Where hate ends, love begins.” It brought me round to understanding that I am part of a community where infinite punishment for finite sin is illogical and unfair. I embrace that more and more as I get older.
There are parts I don’t like. I don’t like the assumption by some that because I am Jewish, I have a dual loyalty to Israel (I’m a Scottish-American with Danish heritage). I don’t like that many Synagogues have security guards outside them. I don’t like the obsolescence of some parts of the Torah. There are other things that I disagree with, but I love that I can disagree with other Jewish people and be met with debate rather than insults. The same goes with most Abrahamic faiths as my partner is a Muslim and I have brilliant discussions with her and her family and friends.
Anyway, there are only a few of us Jewish people in the UK (around 275k), but it still amazes me how one Jew will know a distant member of my family no matter where we are. It amazed me when one Jewish friend was able to point out I had a second cousin, that I didn’t know existed, living in Brighton with a wife and two kids. We have become close friends. It’s this kind of Jewish Venn overlap in life that I cherish and hold on to.
Generally, I find that most people extol the same values that I try to live up to as a Jewish person. I think working at Riverside helps me be a better Jewish person as I am surrounded by people who demonstrate every day a wonderful desire to make people’s lives better in providing homes and communities that our customers can be proud of. This altruism and devotion to important social goals keeps me striving to be a better person, a better employee, and when all is said and done, a better Jewish person of faith.
I hope that you have enjoyed my ramblings. I wish you all the very best and thank you for taking the time to read.
Senior Development Manager