Most Orthodox families that I know have at least some cleaning help – often on Friday, to help prepare the house for Shabbat.  I’ve always wondered what these women – and sometimes men – think of us, and what opinions they form living among us and experiencing our lives along with us in real time.

So I decided to interview my cleaning woman, who’s been with us for about four years.  But here’s the thing.  The interview isn’t especially interesting, because she only has nice things to say – and because even if she didn’t, she likely wouldn’t say unkind things to my face as she’s working in my home.  So I’m posting this interview more as a way to start a conversation about the impressions non-Jews form of the Orthodox, or of Jews in general, as they work specifically in our homes.  I encourage you to talk to the people who work in your home to find out if their experience is good or bad, and what you can do to make it better.

So, heeeere’s Karla!
What is your full name?

Karla Nohemy Cifuentes Zaldana.

Where are you from?
Guatemala, in Coatepeque. I’m from the city.
Tell us about yourself and your family, and about what brought you to the US.
My mother was a nurse.  She’s not working any more.  My father is a baker in a bakery.  My sister is a teacher, and my grandmother lived with us too.  I came here for work.  My cousin lives here.  I want to go back to Guatemala, but I don’t know when.
How many families do you work for – are they all Jewish?  All Orthodox?
I work for seven families and they are all Jewish.  They are mostly all Orthodox.
How did you find your way into the Orthodox community?
You were the first family I worked for and then you told your friends about me.
What has been your general impression of our community?
Nice, good people.  Because you don’t have in your community bad people.  In my community back home there are some people that are good, and some people that are bad.
What has been your best and worst experience working among Jews?
I like that when you make the parties for the families, the families are all helping you and everyone works together.  Everyone comes together to make one.  I like to see that.  I haven’t had any bad experiences!
What have you learned about Judaism?
I learned about kosher, keeping milk and meat separate.  Don’t touch electricity when working on holidays!  And I learned about the boys’ caps and tzitzis.  You pray before you eat.  That’s nice.
Are you a religious person?
I went to Catholic church growing up, and I go on Sundays here.
In what way is your faith different from and similar to Judaism?
Different because Jewish people are more concentrating on their religion, not like in our religion.  Same because we are looking for the same things.
Did you learn any Hebrew?
I know Ima is mom.  Abba is dad, I think.  No more.
Any closing words?
It’s really nice working for Jewish families!