The Jewish Introvert

I’ve been absent for a couple of days. I was right here at home, but silent. I’m an introvert, and sometimes we just need to be quiet for a while.

I find introversion and Judaism to be a challenging mix, sometimes. When I became a Jew, someone said to me, “Ruth, the good news is, you’ll never be alone. And the bad news is, you’ll never be alone.” And it’s true: I pray with others, I talk with others, I teach with others, I plan things in conjunction with others, and I write a blog that is, at its heart, about connecting with Jews. So when my honey set off for Disneyland with a friend, I went to ground for a couple of days. I filled up the buffer, to put social media on “hold” for a bit and enjoyed a little sabbatical from connection with other people.

When I really let myself be quiet for a while, it renews me. I used to think it was a character flaw, but I’ve come to understand that it’s just the way some of us are wired. I don’t want or need to live that way all the time, but occasional alone time gives my brain a chance to relax – that’s the best way I can describe it.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? How does this personality trait affect the way you go about living out your Jewishness, if at all?

Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

11 thoughts on “The Jewish Introvert”

  1. I’m not sure it affects as I choose which way to reflect with or be with others. As with my art when I create I hold within me what I have seen and the same with people. I don’t see introversion or extroversion as opposites, but rather as parts of being, sometimes mixed in combinations that make for a congeniality with others and sometimes not. We mix with others and alone we mix also.

    1. The article I linked to (“it’s just the way some of us are wired”) suggests the same – we’re all a mixture. That made a lot of sense to me. The way it was explained to me, the introvert needs “alone time” to energize, but the extrovert needs “people time” to energize. But I agree, no one is purely one or the other.

      1. Yes, I sometimes energize from picking up from others. LIke I energize from the extroverts and also the introverts….and the trees, smiles. Have a good shabbos and thank you for your thoughts and your blog!!!!!

  2. I am such an introvert that I score 10/10 on the Myers-Briggs test for it. And yet I still need community.

      1. A sense that I’m part of something bigger than myself. A sense that I don’t have to do it all on my own – that there are people who will help me if I ask for it.

    1. That’s a pretty good description of me. The article I linked to suggests that most of us are on a continuum from Very Extroverted to Very Introverted, and we’re a mix of the two. Certainly I could never live cut off from other people for an extended period of time!

  3. I’m a very sociable, emotive, talkative introvert. That’s a hard one to figure out, growing up! I act like an extrovert is supposed to, by being outgoing and seeking lots of community — but it costs me.

    I have to prepare in privacy beforehand, and relax in privacy after. It used to make my large loud family crazy when I’d disappear to recharge alone instead of squeezing every drop of together family time out of a situation, and I think it’s still perceived as a minor character flaw, but it’s ‘ just the way she is’. I was very glad when I discovered that extroversion does not mean ‘outgoing’ or ‘ likes people’, the way popular culture uses it. I finally made sense to me.

    The funny thing is that I am one of the more family and community minded people – I seek it out and build it when it doesn’t already exist. I am the person drawing people out and together, and being the social glue. I’m generally the new person who everyone assumes was actually the organizer or old hand because I get people talking and laughing together.

    And then I go home and sit by myself to recharge.

  4. Reading the blog and responses makes me ponder… the need to disconnect being more of a response to the way we are unnaturally bombarded by so many things in our normal day-to-day lives -unable to avoid.

    If one considers “being able to disconnect” not being reflective of an intro or extrovert characteristic, but a need to reduce the overwhelming intrusions that are not within our control – what I’m seeing as an increasing necessity of our societal structure/expectations these days. Not being able to unplug from work, friends and family due to cell phones, tablets, computers, etc. worries me for our youth.

    We expect so much more of people than we use to. For example, although I’m 40 yrs old, if a parent cannot reach me within a short period of time, panic sets in… now if we throw it back 10 or more yrs ago, this would be acceptable and normal.

    I’m on the bubble with regards to the future of stress inducing factors – nervous that the stresses will increase without giving out youth the tools to decompress – however there seems to be some initiatives for teaching some youth the benefits and techniques for mindfulness. This needs to become a much more broadly taught method of stress reduction.

    But to answer your question… I’m an extrovert who enjoys disconnecting on a regular basis each week to recharge 🙂

Leave a Reply