On Sunday, June 23, a group of 15 women gathered at Etz Chaim: The Center for Jewish
Living and Learning for Do Sweat the Small Stuff by popular blogger Ruchi Koval. It was part of Etz Chaim’s young family division’s Raising Kids To Love Being Jewish, coordinated by Rabbi Yisroel and Chaya Porter, co-directors of Etz Chaim of Owings Mills.
Koval, 38, a mother of seven, writes about issues related to Jewish unity on her blog “Out of the Ortho Box.”
Chaya Porter said she and her husband like Koval’s blog and appreciate her approach.
“Ruchi’s blog is unique. She is very responsive … and the dialogue is intelligent. When I found out she was coming to Baltimore, I didn’t want to miss the chance to get her here,” Chaya Porter said.
“I started the blog two years ago to open a conversation between the various segments of the Jewish community,” said Koval, who believes there is not enough cross-denominational interaction, respect and understanding among Jews.
“I felt like there were two things missing from the blogosphere: interdenominational conversation and a blog from an Orthodox Jewish female — one born and raised Orthodox who is happy and satisfied,” said Koval. “There are blogs by people who didn’t grow up Orthodox or people who discovered Judaism as adults, but not specifically one by someone who actually grew up Orthodox.”
Koval said she wanted her blog to dispel assumptions that because of being born into Orthodoxy she has been forced to live an Orthodox life.
“For me it’s a fulfilling, joyful way to live,” she said. “My faith has brought … serenity to my life. I like to present something beautiful to others. They can do whatever they want with it.”
Koval, who speaks all across the country on a variety of topics, presented to the group at Etz Chaim five small ways they can make a big difference.
Koval used situations from everyday life and examples from the Torah to illustrate her points. She said her list of five came from watching the behavior of others.
“I’m not brilliant; I’m just a good copycat,” she said.
One way to make a difference, Koval told the audience, was by always being prepared with a
sentence appropriate to the situation. The sentence, she explained, should be kind, supportive and make the other person in the conversation feel valuable and validated.
Remembering every person’s name, she said, is an easy way of making others feel special; making friendly facial expressions is another way to make a difference.
Koval encouraged the audience to express appreciation for others. “Give feedback. Take a few
moments to make a special call, or better yet write a handwritten note, to say thank you,” she said. “Judaism teaches that every person has a unique soul — a light to share, a role to play. … You can make a difference.”
Porter said having speakers such as Koval empowers parents to feel proud of being Jewish, and in turn they communicate a love of Judaism to their kids.