For Non-Jewish Employees of Jewish Organizations, Work Is a Learning Experience

Justin Dominick
Justin Dominick (Courtesy of the JCC of Greater Baltimore)

As the senior director of fitness at the JCC of Greater Baltimore, Justin Dominick oversees fitness, personal training operations and sports and recreation programs at the Owings Mills and Park Heights JCCs. He’s been in the position for six-and-a-half years and in the fitness industry for two decades.

Even though he holds a role at a Jewish community organization, Dominick isn’t Jewish. And he’s not the only one. A lot of Jewish organizations have non-Jewish employees, and many of them say that working in the Jewish world has given them an opportunity to learn more about the strength, diversity and unity of the Jewish community.

Initially, when Dominick first applied for the job, he didn’t know exactly what he was getting into.

“I saw a job posting on Indeed or something, and it mentioned the senior director position,” he said. “It did not mention that it was a JCC. They were using a third-party kind of hiring firm at the time.”

After his first phone interview for the position, Dominick still wasn’t sure exactly what the organization was, but when he made it to the in-person interview, it clicked.

Today, Dominick continues to enjoy his job — a very different place from the for-profit fitness industry he had been working in for the majority of his career.

“It’s been such an awesome place for me and my family,” Dominick said.

As a Catholic Christian, Dominick said it’s been interesting to draw parallels between his own faith and Judaism.

Dominick said that he, his wife and their three children enjoy their membership at the JCC and the connectedness it has fostered for each of them. He noted that his family has particularly enjoyed the performances that take place at The Gordon Center.

At the JCC, Dominick said he’s found a sense of community he says was not present in the for-profit side of the fitness industry.

“We see such a diverse cross-section of our population here in Owings Mills and Park Heights,” he said. “We cater to everybody in the community. If you want a super religious Jewish experience, you can find that here. If you are more secular, you can find that here. If you’re not Jewish, no worries.”

Lakisha Audain
Lakisha Audain (Courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Howard County)

Lakisha Audain, support services manager at the Jewish Federation of Howard County, is also not Jewish. She started working at the federation in October of 2022.

When she first started, she was a little nervous. She didn’t know how she would be perceived or if people would allow an outsider to help them, she said. However, she said she’s been pleasantly surprised, and she has found acceptance and trust in the Jewish community.

“People have been the most kind and accepting of me and have trusted me to share some of their hardest moments,” Audain said. “It’s been an honor to serve.”

She also has learned more about the Jewish community since working at the federation.

“Prior to working at a Jewish organization, I would not have understood why a shlicha is so important, but [community shlicha Stav Gottesgnade] and — both of them that we’ve had so far — have been such a wonderful emissary — bringing light to what’s happening so far away,” Audain said. “They have brought Israel to us.”

Lorijean Turner
Lorijean Turner (Courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Howard County)

Lorijean Turner, the development and database coordinator for the Jewish Federation of Howard County, another non-Jewish employee, said she has enjoyed the learning opportunities afforded by her position.

“I’ve been really enjoying learning more about the culture and religion in between doing my job,” Turner said. “Understanding the events we fundraise for, why we have them — some of the time, it’s just me being curious. I don’t necessarily need that info for my job, I’m just asking because I want to learn as much as I can.”

Turner expressed admiration for the Jewish community’s unity in the wake of Oct. 7, noting that, with most Americans, that sense of unity after a tragedy feels like it fades quickly.

“I still sense that closeness and connectedness in the [Jewish] community,” Turner said.

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