Four in ten Jews feel faith is an issue at work
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Four in ten Jews feel faith is an issue at work

A new report from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis's ShabbatUK shows a third of Jews feel uncomfortable leaving early on a Friday

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Four in ten Jews feel that their faith has been an issue at work, and a third feel uncomfortable leaving early for Shabbat, according to new figures from the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s ShabbatUK.

After a survey of almost 200 Jews last month, Mirvis said it was “sad” that problems persisted in the workplace, with more than a quarter of respondents saying they were still reluctant to discuss their faith and what this meant.

“Modern Britain celebrates diversity and promotes freedom of religious belief and it is encouraging to see that largely borne out in this research, but it is sad to see that there are still some for whom faith is something to be kept relatively quiet or avoided altogether while at work,” he said.

“Faith shapes the way that people live their lives and as such, it has an important part to play in the workplace. Issues like trust, commitment and a strong work ethic are crucial in any professional environment and they are also important aspects of a religious life.”

The findings showed that 41 percent of Jews felt their faith had been an issue in the workplace, while 32 percent had felt uncomfortable or very uncomfortable asking their employer to leave work early for Shabbat.

This year, ShabbatUK takes place on Friday 11 November, beginning at around 4pm. “For many, the timings may raise challenging questions if they wish to leave work early to ensure they are home in time for the start of Shabbat,” said organisers.

The team’s research indicates that the main reason for Jews not asking to leave early for Shabbat were not wanting to stand out from colleagues, and work pressures making it difficult to leave early.

However, 72 percent said they openly discussed their faith in the workplace, while 27 percent preferred not to do so.

ShabbatUK also said it was “encouraging” that 28 percent of those who leave early, or have ever asked to leave early, feel that their colleagues are understanding and supportive. Only 17 percent felt there was a lack of understanding.

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