Friday, May 20, 2011

The Urge to Reach Out

So, I was at a store today picking up something I'd ordered online (a straight jean skirt that actually fits, yay DKNY!). The girl checking me out was awkward, but friendly. My Jew-dar failed me on this one, but I'll admit that my gay-dar is better than my Jew-dar.

I handed her my card to pay.

Clerk: How do you pronounce your name?
Me: Chaviva (emphasis on that chet, you know)
Clerk: Is that a Jewish name?
Me: Yup. It's Hebrew!
Clerk: Oh, neat. I'm Jewish, too.
Me: Ahh, nice.
Clerk: My Hebrew name is Sarah Rochel (yes, Rochel, not Rachel).
Me: That's a very traditional Hebrew name.
Clerk: Are you from Israel?
Me: Nope. My American name is Amanda, but I switched it to Chaviva, my Hebrew name, because they mean the same thing. I really identify with my Hebrew name.
Clerk: Oh.
Me: What's your English name?
Clerk: (smiling) Ashley
Me: (smile back)
Clerk: I've never been to Israel. I want to go.
Me: I'm going in two weeks! It will be my fourth trip. I think everyone should go once, no matter their religion. There's a lot of history there.
Clerk: Well, have a good trip.

As I walked away from the clerk, I had this urge to turn around and hand her my business card. I walked almost hesitatingly out of the store. I got in my car and thought to myself, This must be what Lubavitchers feel when they meet Jews and do the opposite of what I did, and act. 

Would it have been weird for me to give her my card? I sort of got the impression this girl was reaching out. She didn't appear to be observant, but she seemed to have this urgency in her voice. Should I have asked her if she's considered going on Birthright? She was probably in her mid-20s. I feel like I did her, and the Jewish people, a disservice by not doing or saying something.

What was I supposed to do? I don't know. But I felt this urge to reach out and light a fire in her neshama.