Embracing Jewish Culture as a Catholic: Why I Love Working at Hausner

Embracing Jewish Culture as a Catholic: Why I Love Working at Hausner
Cena Olson, Chugim Coordinator and Front Desk Secretary

In a world often divided by religious boundaries, it's essential to recognize that culture transcends the confines of faith. As a Catholic with a passion for embracing diverse cultures and a love of travel, my journey has led me to discover the profound connections that exist beyond the boundaries of religion. From my experience living in Nicaragua, a country deeply rooted in family and community, to my exploration of Jewish culture, I've come to appreciate the richness and diversity that enrich our world.

In Nicaragua, where I lived for a time, I was immersed in a vibrant tapestry of traditions where family and community were central to daily life. From lively street festivals to intimate family gatherings, the warmth and hospitality of Nicaraguan culture left a lasting impression on me. The parallels between the close-knit community ethos of Nicaragua and the tight-knit Jewish community are striking.

Like the Jewish community, Nicaraguan culture places a strong emphasis on communal bonds and collective identity. Whether celebrating milestones such as weddings and birthdays or coming together to support one another in times of need, both cultures embody the spirit of solidarity and mutual support.

My love of travel has further fueled my curiosity about different cultures, leading me to explore the traditions and customs of diverse communities around the world. In my quest for understanding and connection, I found myself drawn to the rich tapestry of Jewish culture with its ancient traditions, vibrant celebrations, and a deep sense of heritage.

One of the most profound ways I've connected with the Jewish community is through the celebration of holidays and shared culinary traditions. Much like the festive atmosphere of Nicaraguan celebrations, Jewish holidays such as Passover and Hanukkah are marked by joyous gatherings, delicious food, and meaningful rituals. Participating in a Passover seder, for instance, allowed me to experience firsthand the rich symbolism and cultural significance of this long-standing tradition. From the lighting of the menorah to the tasting of traditional foods like matzo ball soup and brisket, each element of the seder resonated with me on a deeply personal level, evoking memories of family gatherings and communal feasts in Nicaragua.

Exploring Jewish cuisine has been a delightful journey of culinary discovery, reminiscent of my experiences savoring the flavors of Nicaraguan street food and homemade delicacies. From sampling savory delights like latkes and shakshuka and to indulging in sweet treats like hamantaschen and sufganiyot, each bite has transported me to distant lands, forging connections across time and culture.

Beyond holidays and food, my exploration of Jewish culture has deepened my appreciation for the shared values of compassion, justice, and community that unite us all. Whether partnering with Jewish organizations on social justice initiatives or engaging in interfaith dialogue, I've found common ground with members of the Jewish community based on our shared commitment to making the world a better place.

My journey into the Jewish community has been a testament to the power of cultural exploration and cross-cultural connections. From the close-knit community spirit of Nicaragua to the vibrant traditions of Jewish culture, I've discovered the beauty and richness that lie at the heart of our shared humanity. By embracing diversity, fostering understanding, and celebrating our common bonds, we can create a world that is truly united in its cultural richness and diversity.


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