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.