I think that every sizable Jewish community has its share of non-Jewish friends who work in its schools, synagogues, restaurants, and institutions. Often, our non-Jewish friends pick up on our cultural foibles, language quirks, and social connections.
Here in Cleveland, Gloria (whose real name, shockingly to many of us Clevelanders, is Glory) from Kineret Kosher Pizza is one of those friends. Everyone know Glory and Glory knows everyone. She’s been working in our community for almost 40 years, and I thought it might be fun to hear her insights and impressions of us. So I headed over to Kineret, inhaled that awesome smell that brings me right back to high school (conveniently located, in those years, right across the street) and talked to Glory for about a half-hour. We also snapped this picture, which I don’t think does either of us justice, but Glory had to get back to work, so it’ll have to do.
I present to you… Glory.
What is your full name?
Glory Margaret Smith.
Where are you from?
Euclid, Ohio. I used to live off St. Clair and moved to Euclid 20 years ago.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I have two daughters, Trudy and Rona, 42 and 40. One lives in East Cleveland and one in Cleveland.
I have two grandkids, a boy and a girl. My husband died over 20 years ago of liver cancer.
How and when did you first begin working at Kineret?
I’ve been here since March 15, 39 years ago. I’m an old fossil! I was working for a clothing store and it
closed up, so I went to an unemployment agency and you had to take whatever they gave you. So they sent
me here as a cashier.
What exactly are your responsibilities and hours?
I work from 10:30 to 7:30 every day including Sunday. Saturday [nights, when Shabbat ends] I just come in for an emergency. I cook, wait on the customers, and make lunches for the schools. When I first started I had two small kids. Now I work to make enough money to feed myself.
You have a unique viewpoint of the Jews – and especially, the Orthodox Jews. What’s been your general relationship with us?
I have a good relationship. In 40 years I’ve never been told off or cussed out. Even little kids respect
me. I’ve never really had a problem. I want to treat people to way I want to be treated. That’s how I try to
do it. I’m famous all over the world with kids who grew up in Cleveland. Four years ago a boy called from
Israel just to tell me he was engaged! He said do you remember me!
Talk about the high point and low point of your job.
I would like to retire. The holidays are my favorite part, when it’s closed [chuckle]. I can travel where I want.
What do you feel you have most in common with the Jews with whom you interact?
We’re both hard workers.
The least in common?
No, not really, I can’t really think of anything. Everyone thinks I’m Jewish anyway [big smile].
What is our strongest attribute as a community?
You respect your family. Giving respect to your elders and your kids. You believe in a family, not letting kids run wild. You teaching them family values.
What is our weakest?
The Jewish community just keeps to itself and doesn’t interact with others. It’s a good thing, actually, because it lets out all the weirdness. The world is so different now. You don’t hear of murders, rapes and killings in the Jewish community. Most people are jealous of that and will try to bring you down.
How do you remember everyone?
I have a good memory. I know every face, but sometimes can’t always remember names. I’m used to
dealing with people.
What’s your relationships like with your bosses?
They’re very good people. Very nice and kind people. No one can take it from them. All of them. I’ve been to all the weddings and bar mitzvahs. I enjoy all of them. Brings back a lot of memories. I’ve watched all the kids grow up.
There’s a rumor that you once let a mom in our community know that you felt she should be concerned about the company her daughter was keeping. Is this true? How did you make the decision to share that?
It’s true. The mom was a good person and I know she worked hard to keep her daughter on the right track. No one would tell her that her daughter would come in here and hang out with guys. If my kids were doing something bad, tell me. I said, I hope you don’t get offended or mad. She said thank you, and after a while she came back and told me she was so happy I told her.
What would you like us Jews to know about you or about ourselves? Any closing thoughts?
Not really, I think I’ve said it all.
Note: Glory is not really computer-savvy and will not be available to field comments and questions, but I am happy to answer. I’d also love to hear about the non-Jewish community members from other cities.
Thank you for the interview, interesting as always! I'm surprised that Glory is the cook at your pizza place – I thought only a Jew can cook for other Jews? Or is it enough that a Jew turns the fire on? Is it purely symbolic (like turn the first fire of the day on, and then a non-Jew can switch it on and off during the day) or does it have to be done every single time?
Also, this may be out of topic, but is kosher pizza vegetarian by definition? Or are there cheese-less pizzas?
Pretty sure the oven has to be turned on by a Jew every time. She makes the most wicked pizza. Kosher pizza is by definition vegetarian.
What counts as cooking that a non-Jew can't do if an O is going to eat the food?
I think as long as a Jew turns on the oven/flame, a non-Jew can do anything after that.
Interesting interview. I like the story about the guy calling from Israel.
I hope the girl didn't get in too much trouble just for talking to boys. This is one reason I'm in favor of coed day schools–kids can interact with each other without sneaking around and they don't get punished for talking which is really normal teen behavior.
I know this will probably open a Pandora's box, but here goes anyway. There is much to be said, positive and negative, for both coed and non-coed education, both socially and academically. For those Orthodox who feel strongly against pre-marital male-female relationships, coed education really isn't an option. It is very hard to maintain completely plutonic relationships with all members if the opposite sex when you are in contact with them on a regular basis.
I don't know exactly what she was doing, Sarah. I actually found it fascinating and wondered (but didn't ask) whose values Glory applied when making the choice to speak out – hers, or ours?
I would imagine the numbers were off – the one girl or perhaps only one more, with five or more boys. Something that would indicate it wasn't a relationship that had respect as a reliable component.
Think so, Ranya?
MCS, that's a possibility, but if the boys are disrespecting the girl, I'd hope the boys and their parents would be the ones to get the warnings. It's not fair for only the girl/girls in these situations to be accused of "hanging with the wrong crowd," all the more so if the boys are taking advantage of the girl or victimizing her somehow.
Yes, Josh, I do. I know not everyone agrees and that's okay, but I feel pretty strongly about it. Though that's not the reason I said it. I just think it's nice that Glory was so in tune to the sensitivities of the community this girl belongs to. To dismiss it by saying that this story makes the case for coeducation sort of misses the point.
Maybe Glory didn't know the boys' parents. Maybe she knew that the boys' parents wouldn't care. Maybe the boys had a reputation for being troublemakers. In any case, if you know someone is being victimized, it's important to get her out of the situation for her own protection.
Great idea to interview Gloria. She's amazing. Always remembers me when I come to Cleveland to visit, even though Ive been out of Yavne for 20 years. Thanks for this.
You are welcome! Thanks for the comment.
I am OBSESSED with this!! I can't believe nobody ever thought of interviewing Gloria (I mean Glory lol). I think it is hilarious that she got this job thru an unemployment agency…
Why is that funny?
Because she's been there so long and I just feel like she belongs there.
Glory will always be part of my childhood. It good to read that she finally getting the recognition she deserves
Love this interview! I didn't grow up in Cleveland, but I love that she is as much a part of our childrens' lives as she was of my husband's!!
I love this interview!!!! Great job Ruchi. Gloria (Glory) if you see this… Thank you for everything, you are the best 🙂
Great interview! Gloria was sometimes more effective than our teachers at keeping us calm and quiet. Whenever I go back to Kinneret she remembers me and I graduated in '91, it is such a great feeling.
Yes this was a great idea to interview her. She was part of the scenery in my childhood too, growing up on Blanche Avenue. It's almost comforting; although so much has changed, she is still there.
Thanks everyone! Daphne, I have fond memories of us running across the street in the snow to share a pizza and fries lunch!
Amazingly, I have never been there. Great story and interview!
I agree, this interview was an amazing idea! I would love to hear about what Glory has learned about Judaism and how her family and friends view her longtime-pillar status in Jewish Cleveland.
Do non-Jews go to this restaurant? Or non-Os? In my town we had a kosher pizza place for awhile, although I'm not sure it was kosher to super-O standards. It had an Italian name and wasn't obviously Jewish, it was kind do under-the-radar kosher.
I asked Glory your question today (kicking myself I didn't think to ask her that). She said she hasn't really learned much other than she can't bring meat into the restaurant. Didn't ask her the second part – I forgot. She also said that she would love to go to Israel one day. She loves history, and would love to see the Sea of Galilee and the Wailing Wall.
I sometimes see non-Jews there, and sometimes (less often) non-Os. The neighborhood is pretty much all Orthodox Jews and African-Americans.
I had not been to Kinneret for like 15 years and when i went back she said "youre Leo's kid, right?" Her memory is unreal!
Thanks for that Ruchi
I think it's beautiful that you gave recognition where it was deserved. There are amazing people who aren't Jewish and I'm glad you acknowledged that. I don't know Glory nor have ever been to Cleveland but now reading this I would love to meet her! Wishing her the best life has to offer.
P.S. why don't you just tell her or show her these comments from the people of Cleveland. Looks like she affected many in a positive way. I'm sure she would be happy to see it.
The fact that anyone would feel the need to explicitly state "there are amazing people who aren't Jewish" (instead of understanding that this is obvious) saddens me.
That's where I take refuge in my sense of distance from OJ, like "oops, there goes one of my odd cousins again with the quirky, tactless comments." It would bother me differently if it were someone with whom I shared a sense of identity.
Ruchi had that debate awhile back on "chosenness". I myself don't buy chosenness, not least for the reason that the way Ruchi humbly described it in terms of responsibility seems misinterpreted by a lot of people as superiority.
It could be the commenter does understand it should be obvious but is afraid some people don't get it all the same. Like saying "some clueless people need to hear this" rather than "this is a new and strange idea".
Agree, but if she's afraid that some people don't get it, she's probably right. And if she was afraid that it was just one or two oddballs who don't get it, she probably wouldn't say it.
How do you know an Orthodox person wrote the comment?
Good point. I guess I figured a Jewish-centric comment on your blog is by an Orthodox person.
Let me apologize for what might be seen as insulting formulations on my part. I meant to communicate that I winced at the comment but then imagined it must have been made by someone so absorbed in Jewish identity that it wouldn't ring the same way to him/her as it did to me. And that reminded me of the chosenness post (controversial) and the question of what is arrogance vs. a sense of responsibility. But rereading my comment I wince a bit as well. Sorry. And obviously Os, and even Jews in general, do not have a corner on the market when it comes to confusing pride (in a good sense, not self-serving) with a self-serving sense of superiority.
Isn't this a bit of overinterpreting Anon's comment? To me it just pointed out that in the past Ruchi has interviewed people from different walks of life within Judaism and this time she took a different angle, not that it's so incredibly novel that there's an interesting non-Jewish person.
You are right, it's just as likely that the commenter is not Orthodox. But either way. Let's assume the commenter is non-Orthodox. Virtually every non-Orthodox person alive already knows that "there are amazing people who are not Jewish". It's not something anyone would every remark about. The fact that the commenter felt the need to thank Ruchi for "acknowledging" this same fact implies that he/she thinks Orthodox people don't acknowledge it frequently enough. Maybe?
I just want to stress, no non-Orthodox person thinks there's anything unusual or remarkable about the existence "amazing" non-Jewish people.
we have a daughter-in-law who's from New York City, grew up in Queens near innumerable kosher restaurants & pizza places, & is still a NewYork-o-phile (we're working on that) but she brags that Gloria's pizza is the best!
My non-Jewish former secretary (a rather large woman who just loves food) told me "look at me. you can see I know & love pizza. this is the BEST I've ever had"–totally unsolicited
pls keep up the good work "ad meah v'esrim"
Now I really want to try it! Ruchi, are you secretly working for the Cleveland Tourism Bureau?
Same here, I'm thinking I need to visit Cleveland and get this pizza. 🙂
You so do!! I've had NY pizza, Chicago pizza, Israel pizza (OK I really like pizza) and there's no compare.
PS I have never had a post get so many hits so fast as this one. Clevelanders just love Glory. When I called her today with a follow up question, she said people have been coming in all day telling her how much they enjoyed reading this.
this interview says so much about the amazing Cleveland Jewish community ask anyone working at a pizza shop here in Israel Jew or non Jew and unfortunately you would not have the same response
Hi Ora! I wonder if that has something to do with the "big city" nature of Israel's urban centers, contrasted with Cleveland's small-town Midwest flavor. Or maybe the more Sabra personality…? Not that Cleveland's community isn't remarkable – I think it is, and have referenced it several times here – just giving the benefit of the doubt for Israelis.
Although her birth name is Glory – we, the Jewish Community of Cleveland (with possible though inadvertent Ruach HaKodesh) added a "ה" to her name!
I really enjoyed this interview- I was back in Cleveland a few months ago and could not believe Gloria was still working at Kinneret!!!
I found out a few years ago that her name was really Glory ~ hard to believe we didn't know for so long. Alongside Idy, the owner of Kinneret, Glory always greats us like family & always with a smile. How amazing it is to be honoured with this article. All too often people only recognize the wonderful people in our life posthumous. This is way more FUN!!!
Rivky Wilks & kids
"greats" should be read –treats–
I wonder how Glory feels about the renovations and the redecorating that they did a few years ago.
Gloria is a wonderful lady who is so much a part of our community. She truly is a part of the fabric of the community, and she also has the family ideals of the community. It doesnt surprise me at all that she pointed out to the mother that she didnt approve of the company thather daughter was keeping. Those old family values and also concern for one another is a real wonderful thing. Love thy neighbor as you love thyself. Gloria epitomizes wondeerful middos (values0 and concern for her fellowperson. Kudos to you gloria for 120 years! and…. your pizza is just great!!