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Dining Out

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Topic: Dining Out

Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,
I recently got a new job that requires I am often invited to lunch, dinner or "happy hour" on the company’s expense. Along with this privilege, I also am required to take prospective clients out to lunch (once again company’s treat) in order to "wine and dine." My problem is that I keep kosher (i.e., I only eat in certified restaurants and buy only kosher supervised products as well). Obviously, there arises a great conflict between my religious convictions and the norms of the American corporate world.

My question is: Are there good ways to possibly still keep kosher in non-kosher eating establishments? Are there any good resources for suggestions, etc.?

Dear Name@Withheld,

It’s preferable not to enter a non-kosher restaurant, even if don’t eat anything. Your being there gives the impression to onlookers that the restaurant is kosher. They may not realize that you are not eating, or that you have brought your own food.

But if you must attend a non-kosher restaurant, you can manage by eating only fresh, uncooked and uncut fruits and vegetables and kosher drinks. Or bring your own food. But if you do this, it may be wise to clear it with the restaurant beforehand.

Come to think of it, there are kosher caterers, like the ones who supply kosher food on airplanes, who can ship kosher meals almost anywhere overnight. These meals are sealed in a double layer of tin foil and therefore they can be heated in a non-kosher oven. With a little planning ahead, you may be able to arrange with some local restaurants to serve these to you, sealed and on disposable utensils.

Other than that, I have found that the best way to approach this issue is by being straightforward. Nowadays, people usually are very respectful of someone who adheres faithfully to their religious principles. On the contrary, if you don’t explain yourself, folks will probably wonder why your eating habits are so odd!

Think of Joseph Leiberman, a kashrut and Shabbat observant Jew, who was candidate for the U.S. vice presidency. His career doesn’t seem to have suffered from his observance! On the contrary, the respect he commands is due in large part to his firm adherence to his religion.

An excellent book which contains a section on the topic of non-kosher restaurants is "After the Return" by Mordechai Becher and Moshe Newman, Feldheim Publishers.

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