The Job Hunter

By Rabbi Mordechai Kruger

Here’s some feedback from the front lines of job hunting: A young client, new to the workforce, called me to report on an interview. A well-respected employer offering a challenging position in the right field equaled a terrific opportunity and a nervous client. We did some interview preparation and she did a lot of work on her own; I’ll let you decide if she handled it well.

The interviewer asked if she had ever been a team leader. If so, could she describe how she carried out that task, and what results were achieved? Now, I had spoken with her about how life experiences may actually reflect transferable skills that are important in the workplace. But she came up with this on her own. She explained that together with Jews all over the world, she and her family had recently celebrated the Sukkos holiday. That because of the way the dates came out, there were three days of celebration in a row. And each is honored with festive meals with family and friends.

To help the interviewer understand, she compared this to serving Thanksgiving dinner twice a day for three days in a row. So she created a chart with each meal listed, divided into appetizer, main, sides, and dessert. It was circulated to all of the contributing cooks, who were free to choose what they wanted to make. They then submitted their shopping lists and reserved kitchen time. The result was that everybody enjoyed making their contributions, stress levels stayed low, and the food was great. Teamwork at its finest.

This is a great example of teamwork in a non-work setting, and the interviewer was impressed. And I salute any family that is organized enough to approach yom tov preparations that way. Parents should take advantage of every possible opportunity to empower their sons and daughters by encouraging them to take leadership roles, building skills that will be invaluable in any future career.

More than anything else, this teamwork grew out of a sense of responsibility. The children of the family weren’t going to leave all the preparations for their working mom. All families should make a point, even a regular practice, of placing responsibility in their children’s hands. This has many positive effects (besides good food for yom tov), among them that our children will reach young adulthood with the pride of being an important contributor to family goals and with the confidence that they will be able to function effectively in their chosen futures.

Once upon a time, most garages had lawn mowers powered by resident teenagers. Kids grew up knowing that certain jobs around the house were theirs to complete. Understanding their role readily translated into accepting responsibility in the workplace.

I know that the world has changed. We won’t go back to a time when a bright and promising yeshiva talmid spent his summers as a traveling salesman. But that is what Rav Noach Weinberg, zt’l, did, and that is when he formed his vision for resuscitating Klal Yisrael with the fire of Torah education. He didn’t become great despite having accepted responsibility for helping to support his family, but because of it.

It’s not only the experience of working as a team that can result when a young person accepts responsibility in a family. Latent talents will emerge, skills will develop, and awareness of each person’s potential role will grow. A child who has grown up in a world of responsibilities fulfilled will be confident enough to function effectively in his future workplace and his future home. v

Rabbi Mordechai Kruger is the founder and director of Pathways to Parnassa, an organization providing job-search and career coaching to our community. He can be reached at

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