my boss makes us all keep kosher for Passover

A reader writes:

I work for a very small family business, with seven staff, four of whom are Jewish of various levels of observance. The owner, who is the second generation of the family and president of the company is an Orthodox Jew. While he is not pushy about his faith and the observances that come along with the Jewish calendar, when Passover comes along, he seems to have forgotten that not everyone is Jewish. Four of us use the office refrigerator and only one is Jewish. In compliance with the Passover rituals, he puts a sign on the refrigerator about whether it is kosher for Passover or not (which is a whole other level of kosher) and if he decides it will be kosher, then us non-Jews cannot put even regular kosher food in the refrigerator, much less our ham sandwiches and other lunches. All other days of the year, the refrigerator is open for our use, including supreme pizza & bacon wrapped shrimp. Either the one Jewish employee will be inconvenienced or the three non-Jews will be inconvenienced. We have to argue for use of the fridge every Passover.

Also, in the spirit of Passover rules, he “cleans” out the non-Passover foods in our pantry, but really he just hides it in the cabinets and drawers and asks that we not eat that food during Passover. Much of it is our own personal food we’ve brought from home for ourselves and not for the office. He used to let us brew coffee, but last year he put up a huge fuss about not brewing coffee and that if we really needed it, we could bring it in from outside.

In spite of it being a small business, can he legally force us to abide by Passover rules? In the meantime, I just warn any potential new hire what the situation is at Passover and I take vacation.

Yes, he can do that.

Moreover, his religion actually requires it of him.

For this one, I had to turn to my sister, since she’s the only religious one in my family; the rest of us display our Judaism primarily by eating bagels and the occasional matzoh ball. My sister embraced Jewish rituals and observances with a ferocity that the rest of us have reserved solely for potato latkes, and accordingly she’s the family repository of all Jewish knowledge.

She informed me that Jewish law says that if you’re the full owner of a business, you cannot have non-kosher-for-Passover foods in your business during Passover. [For people who don’t know how this works: Even if you’re kosher the rest of the year, there’s a whole different level of kosher that you’re required to keep during the eight days of Passover — which includes removing all traces of chametz (any leavened foods or other foods that aren’t kosher for Passover) and using special Passover dishes and utensils (or using a process to make them kosher for Passover).] While different people follow the rules to varying extents, the rules are clear that observant business owners need to do this with their businesses during this period, if they’re the sole owner, just like they do with their homes.

So yeah, he has to clean out the refrigerator and restrict what’s put in there in order to comply with his religion. (If there were a non-Jewish partial owner of the business, this requirement wouldn’t apply, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.) It’s not about pushing his religion on the rest of you; it’s about following his religion’s edicts with his own property, which includes his business.

This is perfectly legal too, since he’s not requiring you to violate your own religious beliefs (or lack thereof); he’s just telling you to modify your use of the refrigerator for a week. Hell, he could tell you that you could only put vegetarian foods in the refrigerator too — or only green foods or only pies — and that would be legal as well. His fridge, his rules. (Assuming, of course, that he’s not denying you reasonable accommodation for your own religious practices, or a disability-related need for refrigeration of, for example, insulin.)

I’d look at it as part of co-existing peacefully with someone of another faith.

And hey, at least he’s not denying you birth control coverage.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 723 comments… read them below }

        1. De (Germany)*

          Love it, too, although I suspect this will start the discussions of “but they cover 12 out of 16 methods!” and so on. I hope it won’t, though…

            1. Liane*

              Thank you, and amen. Being a volunteer lead moderator, I am very aware of how hard a job this can be.

            2. ItsMe*

              I thought your comment about birth control coverage was off base.

              1. Birth control is 100% legal in America and no one can stop anyone from going to their doctor for a prescription.
              2. No one is require to use the health insurance plans offered by their employer. They have 100% choice to opt out of the employer’s plans because of cost or coverage.People opt out all the time. There are other medical plans available. Get a plan that covers the things that are important to you.

              Hence, everyone has access to all the birth control they need. Your comment was a like a backhanded slam again religion. Both religious people and non-religious have to co-exist in the world. It’s wasted energy and unseemly to lob veiled insults at each other.

              1. Agreed*

                Not paying for birth control ( employer sponsored benefit) is the same as not paying for a refrigerator to keep the employees lunch (employer sponsored benefit)

              2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Soooo… Alison directly asked commenters not to start a thread about whether birth control is/should be covered by employers, and you literally responded to that request by ignoring it? Wow.

                1. De (Germany)*

                  I’m impressed as well. Directly responding to the request not to discuss this by discussing it… Great job!

              3. steve g*

                I thought the last line was a joke to say in other words that we need to put things in perspective.

              4. Disgusted*

                It was a back handed slam against Christians which, of course, is all the rage. When people like Alison stoop low enough to make that comment without context, it’s an “acceptable” form of discrimination. She speaks of co-existing, but I guess it’s only those on her approved list.

                Oh and no one was denied birth control coverage in the HL case. Employees still have insurance coverage for 16 types of birth control, including oral contraceptives, just like they always did.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Come on. It’s not a slam against Christians. It’s a slam against a very specific policy decision, which plenty of Christians also disagree with.

                  And I’d appreciate you respecting the request not to debate birth control here.

                2. an attorney*

                  Actually, when I read the headline, my mind immediately jumped to the HL decision, so I thought Alison’s comment was completely appropriate. There is certainly context here: an employer’s religion is affecting his employees’ daily lives. While this situation is very different than the one presented in HL, I don’t think it’s unfair to point out the parallel between the two.

                3. Katie the Fed*

                  “It was a back handed slam against Christians which, of course, is all the rage”

                  Unless you’re posting from Mosul, I’m taking serious issue with the idea that Christians are being persecuted.

                4. LD*

                  As someone who is both pro-birth control and Christian, I find it odd and offensive that anyone would take a comment about birth-control and interpret it as a slam against Christianity. Yes, it’s a hot button issue for some, but to say it’s discriminating against Christians is in my opinion, a far stretch. The Christian faith encompasses many denominations and to claim to speak for all Christians based on any individual personal beliefs is just not smart.

  1. Mike C.*

    He’s also hiding their food and “suggesting” to them what they can and can’t eat at work.

    I don’t care what’s someone’s religious rules say, this is uncomfortable as all hell. Why is it appropriate for the boss to run an otherwise secular business in a religious fashion here, when this sort of thing is normally considered inappropriate for the workplace?

    1. Fabulously Anonymous*

      I disagree. The employees are still free to leave the workplace and eat whatever they wish away from the office. I have worked in many places that do not allow food or eating on the premises – ever. This guy is only doing it 8 days a year.

      1. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

        Actually, he closes the office for the non-working days of the holiday, so this past spring, it was only two days.

          1. BTownGirl*

            Yup! My husband isn’t very religious, but likes to observe during high holidays. My lapsed Catholic self just buys kosher and enjoys the having an excuse to go off of Atkins, because eating a lot off latkes is key to being a supportive spouse :)

              1. BTownGirl*

                My mother-in-law would be happy to come to your home and, as you cook, stand three inches away while giving a running critique! ;)

                1. LucyVP*

                  My grandmother is also very good at the “running critique” style of teaching how to cook. I am sure she would love to assist.

                2. lampshade*

                  +1, yes, be careful what you ask for, us Jewish women are more than happy to give you directions in minutiae! PS though, there’s a lot more to being Jewish than just the food, hence the OP’s question

              2. C Average*

                Eh, just find a yummy-looking recipe online and give it a go.

                I’m a Presbyterian married to a Jew, and this is what I do. And my hamantaschen won the top prize at my husband’s synagogue’s Purim bake-off, thankyouverymuch.

                As I like to tell people who tell me I’m a good cook, “Not really, actually. I just have good reading comprehension.”

                1. Melissa*

                  Yes, when people tell me that they can’t cook or bake I’m always baffled because for me it’s really just been about following instructions. I mean, when you’re trying to go off-road and invent new recipes it helps to have some knowledge of food science and how foods work (like my friend who made tequila cupcakes and Blue Moon cupcakes on separate occasions) but if one is trying to make something relatively simple, one need only find a recipe on the vast Interwebz.

                2. DMented Kitty*

                  This is @Melissa — I agree. But one important thing is to TASTE YOUR FOOD, too. I once lived with a roommate who just doesn’t taste her food when she cooks. She asks someone else to do it. It drove me nuts. You can’t learn how to cook without tasting it. To me it’s a step to gain confidence in the kitchen.

          2. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

            Bringing two frozen kosher-for-Passover lunches is a lot of work for Gentiles. For one, kosher certified frozen meals in the grocery store are not kosher-for-Passover (at least in Dallas, TX). To do so, we’d have to buy new dishes that have never touched crumbs, clean our kitchen of all crumbs, prepare the kosher for Passover meal, and freeze it. We might as well do as the one Jew who brings her lunch – eat matzah and cheese. (And matzah isn’t super tasty.)

            We don’t have to eat kosher-for-Passover meals; we just can’t put our non-kosher-for-Passover food in the refrigerator or the break room (until it’s time to eat because we’re forbidden to eat at our desks). We can’t even drink the kosher Coca-Cola; the Jews bring in the kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola with a package of unopened plastic cups.

            It’s kind of a joke because while the break room is off limits for our food because it is supposed kosher for Passover, it’s actually not cleaned at all. There are crumbs from food in the pantry, the refrigerator is dirty and we’re allowed to eat our ham sandwiches in the break room (just not store them there).

            1. Mike C.*

              Ok, I was confused here. I misread your letter and thought that your boss was telling you what you “should” and “should not” eat. Sorry folks. :(

              1. fposte*

                Aha! I would object to that too; it makes more sense to me that that’s why you were feeling so strongly about this.

            2. BTownGirl*

              What about bringing things in a cooler and asking if it’s okay, for that week, to eat at your desk? I bet you anything that, if you phrase it in a way that says you understand how important this is to them, they’d make an exception!

            3. Alexa*

              There’s something about the way you’re writing here, particularly this line: “the Jews bring in the kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola with a package of unopened plastic cups.” about “the Jews” as opposed to, “people who are Jewish” that is really rubbing me the wrong way….and making me feel like you have some biases to examine. It’s good practice not to define people in terms of their religion etc.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                “Jews” isn’t offensive in any way. I’ve seen other people say sometimes that they thought they were supposed to say “Jewish people,” but I assure as, as a Jew, that that’s not at all the case.

                1. Alexa*

                  I don’t think “Jews” is offensive on its own. I think there’s something about the wording of “the Jews” that is really making me feel like the OP is writing not because of a specific lunch-related issue but because of a general discomfort with Jewish practice.

                  I think similar to what others have said, I don’t think this would be an issue if it was a generic Christian practice. But I may be reading too much into a turn of phrase.

                2. Alexa*

                  My friend just helpfully explained why, “the Jews” sounded wrong to me. It’s treating being Jewish as a monolithic category where, really, even between the boss and the other employee it sounds like there are different standards of observance. It’s also creating an “us” versus “them” set-up and that kind of “othering” has a long and problematic history.

                3. fposte*

                  But she’s talking about the Jews in her office who are bringing in kosher Coke. They’re doing it because they’re Jewish. I don’t see this as being any different from saying “The Christians who take Christmas off.”

                4. Alexa*

                  Except we don’t really commonly hear “the Christians” because that’s the default norm and most people have Christmas off, again because we default to observing Christian holidays.

                  I see your point, though, certainly their being Jewish is salient to the letter. It’s less about the specific wording and more about the general sense I’m getting from the letter and the OP’s comments.

                5. BTownGirl*

                  This conversation is giving me shades of the Passover episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm..
                  Cheryl: “You people go through a lot of work for this..”
                  Larry: “I don’t know how I feel about ‘you people’…”
                  Cheryl: “Fine. You Jews.”
                  Never fails to crack me up!!

              2. KerryOwl*

                We are literally having a discussion about religious practices, why would it be gauche to describe people according to their religion?

                1. Alexa*

                  In my view, she’s not describing people according to their religion – that would be, “Jewish people in my office…”. She is identifying people exclusively by their religion (i.e., “the Jews”).

                  Substitute any other non-majority group into that sentence and I suspect it will strike you as othering in some way.

                  There’s been a lot written recently about how subtleties in language, often not intended to be offensive, nonetheless convey bias (e.g., ). To me, the OP’s writing is an example of that.

                2. fposte*

                  Yeah, I think we disagree on this. I have no objection being referred to in the phrase “The atheists in the office,” because it’s correct; I am an atheist. I don’t really hear people say “Catholic people” or “Methodist people” or “Jewish people” about their own group, either, so I don’t think it’s othering so much as a general linguistic tendency. I don’t think it’s a micro-aggression, and in fact there’s a risk of being an outsider telling an insider what terms are appropriate for the insider to use.

                  Maybe you’re likening it to the focus on person-first language in disability terminology, which I can understand the impulse of, but I think it risks homogenizing some patterns of identification that are very important to people doing the identifying.

                3. Zillah*

                  I agree, fposte. I would definitely see it as problematic if “the Jews” was being used to stereotype people or group them together unnecessarily, but given that the OP is talking about a religious situation in which the Jews and the non-Jews are clearly in two distinct groups because of their religions, I really don’t see this as problematic. And, I’d also agree that this line of thinking really does run the risk of lecturing insiders as an outsider about how they should describe themselves, which is very uncool.

              3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                I have to say, I agree and disagree. Like, I feel the same way, but I acknowledge that it’s weird to do so.

                I think the main difference is religion versus ethnicity/race. Like, I feel the same unease when people say “The blacks in our office do this” versus “the black people in our office do this.” But I don’t care about saying Christians versus Christian people. I think Jewish stuff is a bit more odd because, to my knowledge, it’s really the only category that applies to people in discrete ways as both a religion and as an ethnicity. Like, you can be an atheist Jew in a way that you can’t really be an atheist Catholic (or at least, it’s extremely uncommon to be).

              4. Wren*

                talking about “the Jews” as opposed to “Jews” when one means Jews in general, I understand your discomfort, but the OP is talking about the Jews in the office. They’re specific Jews, and their Jewishness is relevent to the situation, so s/he isn’t speaking of them as a monolith, or depersonalizing them. It’s like saying the men in the office or the women in the office.

                (having flashbacks to the thread about “the female.”)

              5. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

                Referring to followers of Judaism as “Jews” used to rub me the wrong way too, until I identified what specifically the phrase recalled: Anti-semitism & World War II. Back then, being called a Jew was meant as an insult and using “Jewish” steps away from that old stigma. I do not mean any negative connotation and hold no ill will towards Jewish people.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Just to be really clear: The notion that “Jews” is in any way an offensive term is an idea that most Jews find really offensive. I understand what you’re saying about why it felt that way to you, but I can’t stress this strongly enough: “Jews” is not a slur or in any way pejorative. Feeling weird about using it is NOT the right way to go. (Imagine if someone found the name of your religious identity to be a slur.) “Jews” is fine to use.

              1. Natalie*

                Probably the sugar – high-fructose corn syrup isn’t considered kosher for Passover, so that Coke formula uses cane sugar instead. Mexican Coke is also sweetened with cane sugar, if that is more widely available in your area.

                1. TeaBQ*

                  Sadly they’re changing that so that the Kosher for Passover Coke has something other than cane sugar. It was a very sad day when I discovered that.

            4. fluffy*

              I feel a little sorry for the boss. He’s trying to be observant, but he doesn’t seem to be very good at it. Alison’s Sister, doesn’t he have an obligation to really clean–sweep the crumbs away and scrub the appliances?

        1. Celeste*

          I’d just go out for lunch those two days and keep the peace. Or bring my lunch in a cooler and eat it in the car. Something that would show respect for his observance and not cause any issues in an otherwise good relationship.

          1. Dorothy*

            I agree, sounds like a good plan. I’m one of 3 gentiles in my office, and the boss gives us Christmas off (actually, everyone takes Christmas off!) I’m willing to get OP’s boss similarly accommodates OP’s religion, so it’s a small thing.

          2. Melissa*

            Me too. Personally I like to learn about others’ religious practices and might find it interesting to attempt to prepare a kosher for Passover meal, but if it was really so much of a hassle I would just make it the two days out of the year that I ate out for lunch.

      2. WorkingMom*

        It’s one week… I feel like it’s just one of things you chalk up to being unique to that business. So you modify what you bring in, go out for lunch, or throw an ice back in your lunch bag on those days so you don’t need the fridge. He’s the owner, it’s only a week.

        1. Europa*

          This. I was a little hazy on how long Passover lasted and assumed we were talking a month or longer (like Lent). But a week? People can change their eating habits for a week. This letter edges a little into hysteria.

          1. Felicia*

            Apparently the boss closes the business on the days of Passover where an observant Jewish person would be forbidden to work, so it’d actually be less than a week for the OP.

    2. Nina*

      Yeah, I could see this being problematic for others. I understand that this is for religious reasons, but if your lunch is perishable and not kosher, what are you supposed to do? Buy something else? Not eat what you have? Since the Passover rule states that you cannot have any non-kosher meal on the premises, there’s no other way around this; you can’t put your food in a mini-fridge or something, because it’s still the same business.

      I’m curious if anyone else has run into this and what they do.

      1. fposte*

        The boss hasn’t said it can’t be on the premises, though; he’s allowed the food to stay in the pantry. So he might be focused on keeping a kosher *kitchen* (I’ve certainly encountered that) and would be okay with employees having stuff in coolers in their office; worth checking.

        In most places, it’s also not hard to find frozen meals that are kosher for Passover (Tabatchnick’s is the main one I see but I don’t think it’s the only one), so the employees could also just buy those for the week and keep using the fridge.

        1. Anonymous*

          It can’t be on the premises. What the boss is doing with the stuff that he “hides” is a bit complicated, but as a practical matter, it comes down to putting it in a place that is (temporarily) not to be accessed by the owner or anyone in his employ.

          1. fposte*

            Okay, I’m more familiar with the domestic iterations where people have wiggle room with garages, etc. Sounds like those don’t go for business.

          2. GreatLakesGal*

            It’s not “hiding”. There is a religious edict against owning non-kosher food during Passover, but there is a religiously sanctioned ‘ out’ so that people don’t impoverish themselves each year—once you clean out the kitchen as much as possible, you separate out the items that might be not Kosher, so that they won’t be accidentally eaten–and then you symbolically ‘sell’ them, with the understanding that you will buy them back after the holiday.

      2. PJ*

        “…what are you supposed to do?”

        If you work here, you know it’s going to happen every Passover. You can look online if you need to to find out when Passover is. You can plan accordingly.

        This sounds to me like an AWESOME opportunity to learn about a different religion. I wouldn’t waste it on feeling inconvenienced.

        1. Chinook*

          +1 – Passover comes on a predictable schedule with predictable results in this workplace. Unless what he is asking you to do impacts your health (i.e. banning medication in the fridge), this is so very easy to work around. Heck, I grew up in an area where I don’t think we had any Jews (Muslims and Hindus, yes) and even I know that this type of thing is a big deal and very easy to deal with. I would also hope that this means he would understand my desire to fast on certain days and not make an evening meeting a couple days of the year (which has been an issue with other workplaces) when I say it is for religious purpopses.

          1. Jessa*

            He can’t and won’t do something that genuinely impacts someone’s health. There’s a tenet in Judaism that basically says “all the rules out the door to save a life.” This basically means that if you’re starving and the only thing around is a porkchop wrapped in bacon, you eat the thing. Because your LIFE is not more important than the rules. Even if the insulin is not Kosher for instance (some is made in pigs, btw,) you can have that in a Passover or any Kosher fridge, because people with Diabetes who don’t have their insulin is specifically a thing the rules cover. No one genuinely following Passover rules would ever deny something that would make someone actually ill. So if for some reason you had to eat x item, because of disease y (some people have diseases that require certain foods, at certain intervals, etc.) AND item x must be refrigerated, not a problem, but you need to tell him. Boss might ask you to wrap it in a way that it won’t contaminate anything, but he won’t tell you not to refrigerate it.

            Save up and eat out those days, or if you’re really not paid enough (and I have a hard time thinking a religious Jew would not make sure his labourers are paid,) ask him to send you out for lunch. There’s a required charity component in Judaism, and if you’re out too much that you can’t afford because you cannot store stuff in the fridge that week, ask him for money to go out.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              One of my very devoutly Jewish friends always brings over her stuff to store at my house. Then when Passover is over we bake bread :)

          1. PJ*

            The boss makes the rules. You don’t have to follow. You can stay home that week, or quit and work for someone whose religion does not require these things.

              1. Rose*

                It’s probably not, which is why you suck it up.

                The fact is, it’s his property and his right to make the rules on it. You can choose to abide by those rules, work there, and get paid, or you can take one of the choices PJ suggested. You don’t HAVE to follow someone else’s religious rules. You make the choice.

                A better question might be why does this man HAVE to provide a kitchen for you? My first job we didn’t have space for a refrigerator or kitchen area. I bought an insulated lunch bag and an ice pack. OMG IT WAS SO HARD HOW DID I LIVE?????

                1. Mike C.*

                  First off, I never once mentioned the kitchen or the fridge. Not once.

                  Secondly, I misread the OP and thought the boss was “suggesting” what people should be eating during Passover.

            1. Mike C.*

              Ah neato, so if my boss doesn’t like gay marriage I can’t get married to another guy? Does my boss also get to choose my place of worship and how much time and money I am to donate to their causes? What if he only gives promotions to people with children?

              What if my boss doesn’t think women should be in the workplace at all, is that cool with you? Or maybe maybe he’ll meet them halfway, and just pay them less and restrict them to specific jobs and limit advancement. But only if they’re not married.

              In general, religion is a protected class and for good reason.

              1. Kat*

                It’s not comparable. It’s two days of not using the fridge and it’s not too much to bring your own lunch box, if you can’t afford to go out………I survived grade school without putting my lunch in the fridge.

                I don’t see where my religious liberties (as a Gentile) are infringed upon?

                1. Mike C.*

                  How many times do I need to say that I’m not talking about the fridge or the kitchen? Every time I refresh there are more and more people responding to an argument I didn’t make and it’s becoming tiresome.

                2. fposte*

                  If people are repeatedly misunderstanding your argument, what about just making your argument clearer?

                1. Mike C.*

                  But if someone is going to make the argument that simply being the boss allows you to make any rule you want by simply being the boss then the person making the argument is going to have to deal with the inherent limitations of that argument. The easiest way to point out that a boss cannot make up whatever rules they want by virtue of being the boss is to point out the laws preventing them from doing so.

                2. Bill*

                  Actually, yes. If you were in a same sex relationship and that was something your boss opposed, your boss could absolutely, in-arguably, unequivocally forbid you from marrying your partner.

                  On company property. Which is, after all, what we are talking about here.

                  That said, what I would question is the hiding of food. It’s illegal (constructive possession by depriving the owner of use of their property) and not really in the spirit of the Passover rules where such foods should not be on the premises.

                3. Xay*

                  That’s not the argument people are making. The response I have seen from most people is that this is a minor and acceptable inconvienience because a) it is very temporary – 4 days out of the year at the most and b) it is only limited to one specific location in the workplace. It doesn’t affect the OP’s job, their paycheck, their duties or what they do outside of work. You are getting frustrated because people are talking about the fridge but people are open to it because it is just about a fridge as opposed to expecting people to pray in the office or some of the other issues people have written to AAM about.

              2. Rose*

                If your boss doesn’t like gay marriage, you can’t marry another guy in the office. Why would you want to get married at work?

                Sex is a protected class, so no, you couldn’t not hire women, pay them less, etc. due to their gender.

                No one’s religious beliefs are being violated here.

              3. Elizabeth West*

                He’s not doing that, though. He’s only restricting it at his business because according to the rules he’s trying to follow, it can’t be in the fridge at all. It’s his business. If he doesn’t want you to bring cupcakes in because he’s fat, or celery because he hates it (who doesn’t!), he can make that a rule too.

                1. Jaimie*

                  Yeah, agree. The CEO of my company recently decided to remove anything with high fructose corn syrup from the free snacks and drinks in our office. If you want Coke, you can have it, but you have to buy it yourself. I think you could probably keep it in the fridge if you wanted, but you’d get the side eye. I think this is his perogative– he has a focus on healthy eating in his life, it’s his money to spend as he wants to, and he chooses not to spend his money on junk food. The boss in the letter is doing this same thing. The fact that he’s changing the rules about what’s allowed in the office based on his religion isn’t really relevant. He could do the same thing because he decided to diet for a month.

              4. S*

                Actually, in the case of an employer with less than 50 people (this company only has 7) my understanding is that, strictly legally speaking, the boss could indeed make all of those decisions. (It would be hella unethical. But, I think, legal.)

                1. fposte*

                  It’s 15 employees that’s the threshold for Title VII, but you’re right that if they’re below that and there’s no state or local law with a lower threshold, there are no religious legal protections.

              5. Anon*

                Hi, I’m an LGBT woman. Changing how you use a fridge for a week is a bit different from sexism or the fact that I have to move to another state to get married. It’s a fridge, for a week, everything will be OK!

            1. Mike C.*

              Why do you keep coming back to the fridge when I haven’t discussed it except to say that it plays no role in my argument?

              1. fposte*

                Can you lay out what your argument is now that you know the boss doesn’t care what his workers eat?

              2. Rose*

                Because that is what is being required of them: that they not use the kitchen or pantry for non kosher food items. If it plays no role in your argument, you obviously didn’t read the letter very carefully. That’s what this discussion is about.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Mike, I’m so confused. It’s clear that earlier you thought that the boss was telling them what they could and couldn’t eat. Then you said that you realized you’d misinterpreted it and that wasn’t the case. But you still seem to be commenting as though it is (and getting frustrated with other people), but I can’t tell which part you’re objecting to now that that’s been cleared up for you.

          2. Koko*

            Because…that’s how being a boss works. As Alison pointed out, you’d still have to follow the boss’s rules for kitchen usage even if they were completely non-religious. He could ban fish in the fridge because he hates the smell, and would you say, “Why the hell should I have to follow someone else’s rules?” in that case?

            Access to a refrigerator and a kitchen is not a basic or critical worker right, like access to a bathroom or drinking water or regular breaks. It’s a luxury that many, many employees don’t have simply because their offices don’t have kitchens or they work outdoors instead of in an office.

            This is just part of the equation when you’re deciding if you like your job enough to stay there or hate it enough to leave.

              1. Rose*

                You said “this is uncomfortable” in response to a letter about a boss not letting employees use the refrigerator, coffee pot, or pantry for non-kosher foods.

                The logical assumption would be by “this” you meant “the situation in the letter.” “Area where pantry, fridge, and coffee pot are” could be assumed to be the kitchen.

                People are drawing the logical conclusion.

                1. Mike C.*

                  I said the following:

                  He’s also hiding their food and “suggesting” to them what they can and can’t eat at work.

                  I don’t care what’s someone’s religious rules say, this is uncomfortable as all hell.

                  I was very clear about what I felt was uncomfortable – the confiscation of other people’s property and the idea that the boss was suggesting what could and could not be eaten while at work, all based on religious rules.

                  Did you see the fridge mentioned once? No, it’s not there because I don’t give a crap about a fridge.

                2. Jessa*

                  He’s not hiding their food, he’s insisting that food that cannot be in the kitchen be removed, AND is putting the company owned stuff away like it’s supposed to be. It’s like a rule that says “anything you leave in the fridge on Friday will be thrown out by the cleaning person,” and coming in Monday and finding out, they cleaned the fridge and threw out your stuff.

                  There is PLENTY of warning as to when Passover is, it’s on every secular calendar printed in the US. You can look it up online for years to come. If you know that they’re “throwing it out when they clean the fridge,” then leaving your stuff means it’s going to get thrown out.

              2. Koko*

                You’re responding to a question about kitchen usage. I get that your objection is because the boss has religious reasons, not because of what the rule is itself, but I’m saying that it shouldn’t matter what his reason is. It’s his prerogative to run his business how he wants and make whatever rules he wants so long as he doesn’t violate critical and basic worker rights–which this does not.

          3. sunny-dee*

            You’re not. You’re being asked to respect them. And, as Beancounter pointed out, the office is closed for part of the holiday, and part of it falls on weekends, so it’s only a couple of days. Go out to eat for two days to keep from being a douche to someone observing his religion in a way that, aside from not letting you use the break room for only two or three days a year, doesn’t affect you at all.

          4. Anonymous*

            I think that every Christmas.

            By my first sentence I am sure people can tell I am not a fan, as celebrating it runs contrary to my beliefs. Because I am not interested in a fight, I don’t bring up my feelings and do my best to make myself scarce that time of year. I am not interested in converting my coworkers to my belief system… I mean I am there to work not proselytize.

            But man, if looks could kill. Some coworkers really take it personally that I have declined to decorate the company tree, opted out of Secret Santa, or take part in constructing the company’s Christmas float for the holiday parade – all of which are supposedly volunteer activities.

            Obviously it is my fault, something I should have discussed and focused on during my interviews because if I has such a problem celebrating a holiday I do not believe in, I should not have taken the job. Actually had someone tell me this. So much for goodwill towards humankind.

            Year after year of this, almost no matter where I move in the world… I have really begun resent it.

            Especially since my willingness to work through Christmas usually allows others to take time off.

            By the way this is a singular response to Mike C.’s above comment, not to anything written here at large.

          5. Bea W*

            There were moments I felt like thay in Israel on the sabbath like when we were all freakin starving and the dining room wasn’t open until 9 pm and we could only get food that was not cooked and low blood sugar made me cranky. All the stores were closed too. The whole Sabbath thing took us by surprise and we (the Christians) had no idea we should have planned better.

            That said, it was actually a good experience, just a bit jarring and confusing for a non-Jew from the US.

        2. Nina*

          Just because you see it as an awesome opportunity doesn’t mean everyone else would. If the boss wants to observe Passover, that’s fine. But in addition to the fridge situation, telling your employees what they should and should not be eating and hiding their food (the OP said the boss asked if they wouldn’t eat certain things during those 8 days) would not be OK with me.

          Of course the boss has the final say, it’s his business. That doesn’t mean it’s fair to everyone else.

            1. Nina*

              I’m still confused, frankly. I’m reading conflicting things; you can have non-Kosher food as long as it’s not in the kitchen, no wait, you can’t have non-Kosher food in the office at all. Can someone clarify, please?

              1. Elsajeni*

                My understanding is: per Alison’s sister, the letter of the law is that, as an observant Jew, he’s not supposed to allow non-kosher-for-Passover items on the premises of his business at all during Passover. But per the OP’s comments elsewhere, in practice, he’s not actually being quite that strict — he’s just asking that his employees not store non-kosher-for-Passover foods in the breakroom or refrigerator, but looks the other way if they keep those foods at their desks and eat them for lunch on the premises.

                1. Nina*

                  Yeah, I just read the OP’s comment as well as AAMs below. I got mixed up with the wording. :(

          1. Rose*

            He’s not telling them what they should and should not eat. He’s telling them what foods aren’t allowed in the company pantry and refrigerator for the week in question.

            1. De Minimis*

              I agree, I think he’s requesting that they not have the food in the kitchen/pantry or eat it in the office. It sounds like it’s okay to bring something and keep it in an insulated bag and eat somewhere else.

            1. Koko*

              My dad is fond of saying, when my sister or I complain that something is unfair:

              “Who ever told you life was going to be fair?”

        3. WorkingMom*

          Ooh ooh, maybe for Lent, the OP could learn one new thing about Judaism each day. In college many of roommates were Jewish and invited me to watch different things, like the lighting on the menorah, etc. I found it wonderful and truly enjoyed the new experience.

          1. Loose Seal*

            Not everyone observes Lent. It’s not just Jews and the Lent-observing Christians out there, you know.

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        Well, I bring my lunch in an insulated lunch bag with ice. A refrigerator isn’t an absolute necessity. It might be a bit harder for me to bring kosher food, but I think it’s something I could figure out, especially for such a short time.

        1. MK*

          Or one could bring something that doesn’t need refrigeration for those few days and keep it in thei desk or bag.

        2. GrumpyBoss*

          I use PackIt lunch bags. They are freezable and keep my lunch cold all morning while sitting on my desk. They even keep a frozen dinner still frozen all morning.

          I normally don’t shill products, but I think that one of these packed with a sandwich and salad would solve the problem. I’m not sure where you are being asked to eat your non-kosher meal, but at least they’ll be cold when ready.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I don’t have a fridge at work. I bring an insulated lunch tote and an ice pack. I have never had a problem.

        Matter of fact, I have worked in places where breaks were timed EXACTLY, and I didn’t use the available fridge because it was located far away from my break area too much of a hike. I watched one coworker who insisted upon using it and he lost 17 minutes out of his 30 minute break, every day. No thanks, I’ll bring my lunch tote.

    3. Jake*

      There are lots of places that say what you can and can’t eat at work. This one just happens to have a religious reason.

      1. Mints*

        Yep, or peanut free zones if you work with kids. I was kind of conflicted, but the discussion makes me think it’s a small inconvenience considering it’s only one week a year

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t see how it’s that different from a business owner not permitting you to stay at work after sundown on the Sabbath, or having a pork-free (or fully vegetarian) office kitchen. These aren’t major inconveniences.

      Plenty of employers restrict how the office kitchen can be used, or don’t allow food to be brought into work at all.

      1. De Minimis*

        We have a lot of restrictions on employee refrigerators at my workplace, apparently due to the various federal rules regarding property.

            1. De Minimis*

              In terms of employee impact, though, it’s the same, and actually more inconvenient because it is a permanent situation.

              This is really no different than a company that for example, has employee facilities closed for maintenance/cleaning a few days a year. As I mentioned further down the thread, just about every place I’ve worked has had something like that happen at least a few times while I worked there–this is rno different than any other workplace, it doesn’t really matter what the reason behind it is.

            2. Cat*

              Well, most people do view that as a perk regardless of your religion. I think that, say, banning meat from the office kitchen during Fridays in Lent would be pretty unpopular; whereas closing for Yom Kippur would probably be well received by the folks at this office.

              1. Zillah*

                That’s actually not true. A lot of non-Christians resent the fact that Christmas is a de-facto holiday, where they have to use their vacation days for their religious holidays.

      2. Jen RO*

        I think the OP’s situation and your examples are equally ridiculous and I would be surprised (to say the least) to encounter them in a work environment.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I worked somewhere that was fully vegan — the vending machines, what you were allowed to bring in, etc. It was fine. (It also made sense for the organization, which worked on animal protection issues.)

          Closing a business on the sabbath (Jewish or Christian) isn’t uncommon at all for small businesses (and some not-so-small) in the U.S. — the fact that it’s striking you as ridiculous is probably a cultural difference.

          1. CollegeAdmin*

            I’m curious – was the organization upfront about the vegan policy, and when? I’m imagining a job ad that says at the bottom, “We’re a vegan organization – no animal products, including for personal lunches, etc. – are allowed on-site.” I’d find it weird, but it’s an important thing for a candidate to know.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Not sure if it was in the ads, but it was definitely very clear during the hiring process — there’s no way you wouldn’t know.

              Also, it was an organization that worked to eliminate factory farming and promoted veganism as a core part of its mission. It made perfect sense; nearly everyone there was vegan.

              They also brought in lunch every day for people who wanted it, which was awesome.

              1. OhNo*

                Now that’s a great way to make that sort of thing work. Then if you don’t know what is vegan, or if it would be too much hassle to prepare a special vegan lunch, you had an easy alternative. It would be perfect for someone like me, who can barely cook in the first place and sure as heck can’t cook anything vegan.

                (Except cookies. I am ace at making vegan cookies.)

                1. De Minimis*

                  Fritos corn chips are vegan, btw. So are plain wheat thins. A lot of “regular” foods are vegan.

                2. cuppa*

                  Yes, I agree. I actually ruined dinner one night with vegan friends because, just before serving, I threw parmesan cheese over the pasta dish I was serving. Didn’t even think about it.
                  Unless I had a specific recipe and followed it exactly, I would have been so nervous to miss something.
                  And lunch provided is always nice, anyway :)

                3. OhNo*

                  I don’t know about you, but if I had to eat nothing but fresh fruit/veggies every single day for lunch, I would go completely bonkers. I like hot food, and I like variety, thank you very much.

                4. YaH*

                  Actually, this would be an excellent thing to try, if OP’s office were interested- perhaps the boss could consider bringing in kosher treats/snacks/whatever for everyone to share, especially since it’s a small office and is only a couple of days per year. This would alleviate the concern about keeping kosher, provide everyone with treats that they could enjoy, and even possibly share some delicious new foods that people hadn’t eaten before and wouldn’t have thought of trying.

              2. anon*

                The thing about vegan, halal and kosher requirements are that they are pretty diverse – there’s a huge range of food options, at least conceptually and where I live.

                It’s a little busy-bodyish for the employer to impose this on staff in the workplace and would annoy me if permanent, but for two or four days a year it is no big whoop. If the boss brought in kosher treats or lunch for a few days it would even be a good thing.

                1. Amy*

                  And interestingly, some people’s religion (Sikhism) forbids eating meat that has been slaughtered in a religious ritual (aka Kosher or Halal meat), whereas Islam, for example, explicitly says that if you can’t get a hold of any halal meat, meat offered by a Jew or a Christian is ok, because they are “people of the book”. Goes to show how much overlap/conflict there can be between various religious dietary requirements.

                  A great way around it is going vegetarian/vegan for the time being (and also avoiding leavened things); it’s how we managed our interfaith community meals at the last organization I worked for. If you think that veggies and beans and tofu won’t be able to sustain you, maybe get a few protein bars to keep at your desk and discreetly nom on throughout the day.

          2. tt*

            I would actually find it very inconvenient to a)not be allowed to bring any food into work or b)only be able to bring vegetarian or vegan food. Of course employers have the right to do that, I just wouldn’t want to work there.

            1. Erica*

              Right, but if it was a heavily pro-vegan animal rights group you probably wouldn’t want to work there anyway.

                1. Kelly O*

                  Yeah, but you’re not going to go work at an organization that advocates against animal processing factories (or however it should be worded) if you were all about the deli sliced ham. I mean, that’s just common sense.

                  I think what we’re losing in some of these discussions is that there is really a point to being a good cultural fit for an organization or department. I’m not vegan or vegetarian or any of those things. I like meat. I’m not going to run down and apply for an administrative position at PETA, because I know I would be miserable. It might pay well, it might have great benefits and be two doors down from my own personal home, but I know that’s not where I will be happiest and most productive. Same reason I wouldn’t work at other organizations.

                  I know it’s hard, especially when you need a job, and it feels like any job will do to pay the bills, but in the long run, knowing yourself, your tolerances for things, and how you deal with others makes a huge difference in how happy you are at work, and what you’re willing to deal with.

                2. Jenna*

                  To Cat,
                  If this were a Kosher foods company, I think the restrictions would be much firmer and much further reaching. They’d probably be like the security rules that some businesses have where you can be fired for transgressing the rules, because, if a Kosher foods company lost its certification that would be a huge possibly company ending breach of trust for its customers.

          3. Crawling*

            Until last year my (very large) office closed for the Queen’s birthday (I’m in the UK)!

            I’ve also worked in two offices that had no nuts rules, one that allowed cold food only (as an attempt to keep smells to a minimum), and one that offered no kitchen facilities at all. On the flip side of that I’ve worked at two different offices where a hot lunch was provided free of charge every day. Different places approach these things radically differently.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Did you get paid for having the Queen’s birthday off? I wouldn’t mind that.

              I also wouldn’t mind a hot lunch at work every day. My company has a cafeteria at their headquarters, where you can swipe your badge and get the very cheaply priced lunch taken out of your paycheck. The food is decent and plentiful. I wish we had that at our facility here. But they won’t do it, because we’re close to a shopping / food area, and they aren’t. (I still wish they would and I’m not the only one!)

              1. Judy*

                When they closed our cafeteria onsite, our employee activities team started arranging food trucks to come on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I think they had 6 different trucks come, so each one came once every 3 weeks. (We still had to pay, but they pulled up out front for the lunch hour.) We do have many restaurant options around, too.

              2. Crawling*

                Yup, we got paid for it and now we get an extra day of paid leave to take any time (so if you are particularly devoted to celebrating the Queen’s birthday you can still take that day off).

                I actually briefly worked at a private school where staff and pupils were provided with three hot meals a day. It was great for the first week or two and then I started wishing for a plain old sandwich for lunch occasionally!

          4. AnonEMoose*

            I’d deal with the kosher-for-Passover much more happily than the vegan. But then, I don’t think I’d take a job that required a vegan workplace; it just wouldn’t work for me.

            I feel like I should clarify that I’m not anti-vegan; it works for people for various reasons, and that’s cool. I just think that people should make their own choices about food, based on whatever criteria they feel are appropriate.

            However, that means I get to make my own choices, too. If you tell me in a matter-of-fact way what your requirements/preferences are (if we’re going to eat together), I’ll do my best to work with you. And probably ask enough clarifying questions to make sure I have it right to drive you a little crazy, because I absolutely don’t want to make someone ill!

            On the other hand, if you lecture me, you’ve just handed me license to mess with your head…(I would never, ever, mess with anyone’s food or knowingly give them anything I knew they didn’t want or couldn’t have, just for clarity). By “mess with your head,” I mean more like if you’re not my doctor and you start trying to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be eating, I’ll start waxing eloquent about the incredible tastiness that is bacon. Or speculate out loud about where to find the best bacon double cheeseburger for lunch. Stuff like that.

            1. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

              LOL – The Jewish people in the office are really cool about food, except the boss when it comes to Passover.

              One employee is a big foodie who happens to keep kosher more strictly than the other Jews in the office. I also love food and every once in a while, I’ll rave about something I think is delicious – e.g. eel sushi rolls – and he’ll ask me, “What does it taste like?” Oh yeah – it’s not kosher – so I describe it to him. And sometimes on food I don’t like that isn’t kosher – e.g. catfish – I tell him he’s not missing anything.

            2. Jenna*

              I have trouble with vegan, though I love fresh fruits and veggies. I’m celiac, and it makes it hard to do both. I have read the ingredients lists on some vegan products, and that stuff would make me so very sick. Ouch!
              Basically, if you add a restriction on top of another restriction, it gets hard to figure out what to eat. Since my other problem is occasional brushes with hypoglycemia and I have had to deal with people who wanted too much control over my eating before, it becomes a flash point.
              I like to be in control of MY food, and the timing of my eating my food.

            3. Farmer*

              Yeah, vegans are used to having their “heads messed with” like that, unprovoked though. That’s why so many vegans (like me) keep quiet about it – it’s much more common than you’d think, much more common than the righteous sort.

              Just wish people would try harder to get along, rather than escalate things, and be straightforward rather than passive aggressive (“Please stop telling me what to eat” works). Especially in a workplace type situation.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                Here’s the thing:

                If you just politely tell me that you’re vegan, vegetarian, have celiac, whatever, my response will be something along the lines of “good to know” or if we’re making lunch plans “can you suggest anywhere that will work for you?”. And if I bring in treats, I’ll try to make sure there’s something you can enjoy, too.

                Get sanctimonious with me, whine about seeing me eating meat, or otherwise start trying to push your dietary choices down my throat – that’s when I start making yummy noises while eating rare steak.

                Eat what you feel comfortable eating and enjoy, refrain from commentary on what I’m eating (other than, “Hey, that looks/smells good”), and we’ll get along just fine.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The thing is, it’s like making baby-killing jokes to someone who believes abortion is wrong. It’s mean-spirited and offensive. It’s better to simply say, “please don’t tell me what to eat” and tackle the problem head-on.

          5. Jen RO*

            I don’t have a problem with businesses closing whenever (free holidays!), but when they mess with my food…

          6. carlotta*

            I would love to spend a day in a vegan office. I guess I’d get used to being able to eat anything in the vending machine but I’m sure it would feel pleasantly novel for a while!

            1. Dorothy*

              I agree – would be fun! I am so overwhelmed by the choices I have when I go to a vegan restaurant — I can have anything?! REally?! Fun!

          7. CA Anon*

            The tattoo shop I go to has a similar rule–nobody is allowed to bring in any meat for any reason. Customers are required to sign a release acknowledging the rules before their appointment is confirmed. Does it suck if you have an 8 or 12 hour session (as an artist or customer) and you can’t bring your meal of choice during a break? A bit, but you plan ahead and bring something compliant. There are lots of good options once you spend some time thinking about it.

      3. Mike C.*

        There are plenty of secular reasons for closing down an office, and you keep talking about the kitchen when I was referring to the boss informing people what they “should” and “should not” eat.

        The major inconvenience is this idea that in an otherwise secular business the employees suddenly have to abide by religious rules. You and others may not find that morally distasteful, but I certainly do. I shouldn’t have to abide by the rules of someone else’s religion. I’m not a member of that religion and I do not share in their belief system. Outside of business where those rules form a core of the business itself, these sorts of policies are morally repugnant.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The boss isn’t telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t eat. He’s saying they can’t do it in the kitchen for a few days. That’s a huge difference.

          1. Mike C.*

            Yeah, I misread that part, my bad there. I don’t really care about the fridge or the kitchen.

        2. Anonymous*

          You don’t have to abide by anyone’s religious rules. You simply can’t store your food in his refrigerator or premises for some days. Other than that, you can eat what you want.

          Would you prefer if he banned food in the office the whole year?

        3. Erica*

          I would draw the line where it is affecting my behavior/life OUTSIDE of work, like birth control, or companies that won’t hire gay people. In this case, people aren’t being asked to keep kosher at home or at any lunch break they choose to take off premises.

        4. PJ*

          “…this idea that in an otherwise secular business the employees suddenly have to abide by religious rules.”

          Think of it this way. He’s saying what is allowed to happen in HIS kitchen. What is morally distateful about this?

    5. Zillah*

      Honestly – and others may well disagree – there are a couple things that make this seem reasonably acceptable to me.

      First, it doesn’t seem like this is a problem 51 weeks of the year. It’s just during passover. Second, it seems like a fairly minor inconvenience, assuming that none of the employees have strict dietary needs – modifying your lunch for a week and bringing in coffee from home isn’t such a major hardship for most people. He’s not telling them they have to keep kosher – just that they can’t have non-kosher foods in the office, which makes going out to lunch more of an option.

      Because the duration is short and the inconvenience is fairly minor, I just don’t see this as a huge deal. Again, I’m sure many others will disagree, but I truly wouldn’t mind this.

      The OP does, though, so I’m wondering whether it would be possible to find a workaround. Can you ask your boss whether he can give the three non-Jewish workers a food allowance for the week that allows you to eat out? There are only three of you – I can’t imagine it would be all that expensive. Or, can you request that you get a cooler for either the non-Jews who use the fridge or the Jew who uses the fridge, so that the food isn’t in the same place? Alternatively, would he be okay with you just keeping your lunches at your desks and going outside to eat (provided it’s nice out, of course)?

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I agree with this. It would be a nice gesture for the business owner to provide meals and snacks during Passover.

        If I understand correctly, another alternative would be for him to make some non-Jewish person a 1% owner of the business, which would then allow him not to have to follow the kosher-for-passover rules at all for his business.

        1. Zillah*

          I can see this for grocery stores, as discussed below, but it seems like overkill for the convenience of three employees a few days a year.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            I kindof land in the middle here. I have no objections to the situation as it is (and am baffled by folks who think it would be a significant hardship to change how/what you eat for a few days), but I do think it would be awfully nice of the owner to provide meals given that he’s imposing an unusual restriction.

      2. Mints*

        What if he ordered lunch in for everyone during passover? Like from a middle easter deli that delivered.

        That wouldn’t just solve the problem, but it would also be a treat. I would be thinking, “Passover next week, free lunches!”

        1. Zillah*

          The only issue I see is that it might be hard to order food that you know is kosher for passover. But yeah, that’s definitely a good idea!

          1. TL*

            Those middle Easter delis are pretty solid about covering all the religious bases. :)

            Sorry, Mints, I just couldn’t resist!

        2. Rachel*

          Unless our OP is based in NYC or LA, that’s probably nearly impossible. Kosher delivery is hard enough to get in cities with large Jewish populations, and for many kosher restaurants, the cost of making the kitchen kosher for Passover isn’t worth the three or four days that they could be open (eight days of the holiday minus four days that you aren’t allowed to work, and minus one more if one of the remaining days is a Saturday). Even if it is possible, it’s wildly expensive. I can get kosher delivery to my office, but I won’t get lunch, just for me, for less than $20. At Passover, it would be $25 or $30.

          1. Anna*

            Right. I’m in NYC and the fabulous Kosher restaurant on my block closes during Passover. Kosher for Passover is much more strict than day-to-day Kosher.

          2. éscargot agile*

            Even in Tel Aviv, where I am, most of the restaurants close for Passover because they don’t want to invest so much time into cleaning the kitchen. Many restaurant owners use this week for refurbishing. And it’s really hard to find a decent place to have lunch on that week!

    6. Gina*

      That bothered me too, hiding the food and saying they can’t eat those things during Passover…this would mess me up just due to budget reasons, since usually all I can afford to have for lunch is a pb&j sandwich (no leavened products) or a cheap Michelina’s frozen meal which either has bread or a meat/dairy combo. Then there’s my SIL who’s on a rigid diet for an autoimmune condition…could she find something to eat that doesn’t violate kosher, sure, but when you’re on an exact 30-day meal plan (that she repeats every 30 days obviously) and it’s all about balancing protein carbs & fats, it would be really hard to keep kosher. I’m thinking of shellfish especially, because she can’t have red meat so it would basically be chicken for her, but she can’t have her probiotic kefir at every meal which she kind of needs otherwise she gets horrid digestive cramps, so I guess she has to buy $4 a bottle kombucha…I’m also looking at the kitniyot restrictions now, and no beans, peas, rice…”just 8 days” for someone who already has to struggle so hard not to feel sick would be really unfair. I doubt she’d be considered to have a qualifying disability because diabetics need insulin but she won’t die if she doesn’t follow her diet, she’ll just aggravate the heck out of her condition.

      I mean I get everything about it being his responsibility, but

      1. Gina*

        people have their own food restrictions and it’s not so easy for low-income folk to just throw money away on special food for a religion they aren’t a part of.

        1. AVP*

          But you could just leave your pb&j in the car and eat it there, or leave it in your bag and eat it on the steps outside the office. As she said above, it’s only for two days out of the year. Seems like it’s a requirement of the job, and a legal one at that, so it doesn’t seem worth finding a new job over (which is really the only alternative).

          If you have to have the probiotic kefir in the morning, again, there must be someplace else you can eat it and since it’s the morning and you’re bringing it from home, it would be in your own fridge and not theirs…

            1. AVP*

              Thats why I suggested sitting on the steps outside the office as a second option. (I don’t have a car myself.)

                1. fposte*

                  Not every office has *anything* that would be suggested; that doesn’t make the suggestion invalid. There don’t have to be alternatives that would work for 100% of the people 100% of the time.

                2. Zillah*

                  If, in this situation, not everyone had a car and there were neither steps outside nor a park close by, they could take it up with the owner again. If, for example, they all took public transportation to work and worked in a dangerous neighborhood, so there was nowhere else to eat, and the owner didn’t come up with an alternative, then he would be kind of a jerk. But it doesn’t seem to have gotten anywhere near there yet.

                  And, this owner has even said that people can eat their sandwiches/whatever in the office – they just can’t store them in the fridge.

        2. Broke Philosopher*

          But you don’t have to throw out your food–you just can’t store it in the fridge. So take something (like a pb&j) that you can keep in your desk or bag, or use a insulated lunchbag or cooler. Many workplaces have no fridge, so losing the use of the fridge for a couple days a year doesn’t strike me as such a hardship even for a low-income person.

          The “hiding” is complicated (non-kosher stuff can’t be in the break room), but you know when it’s coming, so you can always move your stuff to your desk or bring it home during Passover if you need it every single day. I don’t really see the “throwing money away” unless you don’t have a way to store your lunch other than the main fridge?

      2. CA Anon*

        I’m pretty sure your SIL would be exempted from the restrictions purely from an ADA standpoint. As far as budgeting goes, this happens every year at a scheduled time, so it should be easy enough to plan for.

      3. soitgoes*

        There’s a bit of a general misunderstanding of Kosher laws all over this comment section.

        1) Sandwich bread definitely is not Kosher for Passover.
        2) Jewish law REQUIRES that legitimate health needs come before any observances or holiday rituals.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Does the Passover definition of Kosher include a requirement that separate dishes be used to prepare and serve the food, too? I used to work with someone who observed a very strict definition of Kosher and she could never eat anything at any work lunch outing – even if we went to a vegetarian restaurant – because of the dishes. She always said that she was perfectly happy to sit and chat while we ate, though, and then she’d have her own lunch when we got back to the office.

          1. Sal*

            A person who keeps strict kosher-for-passover is going to have a similar problem with dishes and prep instruments. (There are exceptions, but they are very technical.)

          2. Brenda*

            Yes. I think with a vegetarian restaurant even though it’s obviously not going to be a pork or meat/dairy problem, you still wouldn’t because it wouldn’t be guaranteed Kosher. (From my experience of being a highly secular Jew and my Orthodox cousin who would only go to one restaurant in all of South Jersey).

          3. KSM*

            Basically, yes. A lot of observant Jewish families (who can afford it) have multiple sets of dishes and pots/pans–meat, dairy, and Passover (and often have passover meat AND passover dairy).

            Dishes in non-kosher restaurants are almost always not kosher to eat off of for a bunch of complicated reasons. And re: your coworker, even uncooked, cold vegetarian food isn’t guaranteed to be kosher (wine-based vinegars in the salad dressing, for instance, is one of the simplest examples; there are many others).

            1. Jess*

              Oo… you forgot a set. The most important set of all: Chinese!

              Sorry, could not resist as I grew up with a Brooklyn Jew for a mother. She had a set of dairy, one for non dairy, one for passover, and one for takeout (Chinese).

        2. just a gentile*

          “Jewish law REQUIRES that legitimate health needs come before any observances or holiday rituals.”

          Which rocks.

      4. Chriama*

        I think that’s a bit of a straw man argument. This is a small business, and the boss knows all the employees personally — it’s not some corporate giant passing down edicts from head office with little thought as to how it affects the day-to-day of the front line employees.
        If an employee had a strict diet and explained it to him and then he refused, you would have reason to be upset. However, there’s no indication that the boss is that unreasonable.

      5. Gwen Soul*

        I think the difference there is that there are medical reasons that are beyond an inconvenience. If I recall correctly even kosher keeping Jews are exempt for medical reasons. This would still just be a tiny portion of the population.

      6. Zillah*

        But it wouldn’t be a full eight days – presumably, they’re not working on the weekends, and the OP clarified that this spring, the office was only open for two days during passover.

        I sympathize with your sister in law. I do. There are entire food groups that I can’t eat, and because some of them are in virtually everything, eating out can be hard. But I also know that most people aren’t in that situation, and if someone in the OP’s office is, they probably would have mentioned it. I also do understand financial concerns, but for someone in your position, couldn’t you just get matzah, either from the store or just from the office, to use as a substitute for bread?

        1. Gina*

          No, I could not buy matzah unless it’s 89 cents for a loaf like my usual bread. I’m also unclear what I get to have on it since peanuts aren’t apparently allowed and anything more expensive than peanut butter for a sandwich isn’t in my $25 a week grocery budget.

          You say you sympathize with my SIL but that it doesn’t matter because no one like her works at this office. But the whole point of the post is that it’s okay for anyone’s employer anywhere to tell their employees what they’re allowed to eat during a certain time frame if the owner’s religion requires it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Gina, people have posted lots of food ideas here and even links to recipes.

            And people have also pointed out that Jewish law specifically says that medical needs trump kosher law.

          2. JB*

            No. Not allowed to tell their employees what to eat. Allowed to tell their employees that they can’t eat it *in the office.* Nobody is saying you couldn’t eat your sandwich if you worked there. I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. All that would happen is that you’d have to eat your sandwich some place other than the office. And plenty of work places don’t allow food on the premises, or no nuts, so it’s not that unusual that a person can’t eat their lunch exactly where they want to. If you are worried this might happen at your next job, then in an interview you can ask about whether there are any restrictions on eating food in the office.

            Other than people who can only drink special non-allergenic formulas, there aren’t a lot of people out there with more restrictive diets than me, but even I could make this work. Because I can eat in my car, or sitting right outside the building, or in a nearby park. Do I want to? No. But I could, and if that’s all I had to complain about at my job, that’s a pretty good job.

            This might be an inconvenience to some, but it’s not going to be a terrible hardship 99% of the time.

            1. fposte*

              And, broadly speaking, it’s okay for employers to tell employees what they can and can’t do and must put up with in the office, period, whether it’s inconvenient for the employees or not. If it’s a dog friendly office and you don’t like dogs, that’s unfortunate for you, but it’s no employee’s right to have a dog-free office.

              1. Anon*

                Yes. I think it’s okay for employers to tell employees what they can and can’t bring into an office. I might not like it as an employee, and I might look for a job somewhere else, but employers totally have the right to say what can and can’t go into a workplace.

            2. Who are you?*

              I worked for a company that wouldn’t let people wear perfumes or body sprays because several people had major allergies. They weren’t saying we couldn’t wear them ever. Just not at work. Same company had a strict non-smoking policy. You were not allowed to smoke on the campus premises unless you were in your own car and if your butt was discovered on the ground near your spot you would be fined. (It was a health insurance company in case you were wondering.) People griped but the reality was they never said we COULDN’T do these things in our personal lives, just not while at work. C’est la vie!

              1. Zillah*

                That sounds amazing. Perfumes and body sprays trigger both migraines and respiratory issues for me, so I would love to work in an office like that.

          3. abby*

            No one is telling you or your SIL what to eat (or what not to eat). They are just telling you that you cannot store your food in the employer’s kitchen during those days. Plenty of people do not have refrigerators or kitchens for food storage at work and manage to survive. Bring your choice of food and beverage in a cooler or lunch container or insulated hot or cold thermos.

            1. Anon*

              I have a $20 grocery budget and neither a fridge nor a microwave at work. I have carried on with my life somehow. :)

      7. Elysian*

        What if you didn’t have a fridge at work? Or worked in a place where food wasn’t allowed on the premises at all? One could say that someone with difficult to work around dietary restrictions just wouldn’t take such a job, but the same can be said here. We all have to weight whether our personal comfort balances with the job we’ve chosen. The answer would be the same – figure out a way to make it work (buy Kosher for a few days, get your own minifridge, eat in your car, whatever) or get a new job that works better for you.

      8. Sadsack*

        If you know Passover is coming, you can get your stuff out of the office kitchen in time and keep it at your desk for the week. Then he won’t be hiding it.

        1. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

          We’ve resorted to that before. We’re not allowed to eat at our desks, but during Passover, we’ll hide some snacks in our desks before he hides them and just eat them on the sly.

          1. Brigitte*

            Your language suggests there’s animosity beyond just this one inconvenience. Saying you resorted to removing snacks from the communal kitchen and moved them to your office is a little like looking out the window, seeing rain and resorting to taking an umbrella outside. Moving the snacks to your personal area is a simple preparatory step for a small inconvenience in your routine.

            1. Zillah*

              Yeah, I’m also getting that sense – it makes it sound like this was a crazy inconvenience rather than just a thing you did because it made sense.

            2. Joline*

              I read it that they’re generally just not allowed snacks at their desks at any time of the year (some offices have that due to rodent issues, etc.) So they would have to be sneaky about having snacks at their desk ever.

      9. danr*

        If you have a food restriction due to health that is a life or death situation, all of the rules are off, but the owner has to know about it. There are medical exceptions for everything.

      10. Jessa*

        Someone on that kind of strict diet is not required to keep Kosher that way. The rules go out the window for health issues, just like not having to fast on Yom Kippur.

    7. Xay*

      I don’t see this any differently from a dress code or restrictions on what you can put in your cubicle. It’s not about what you can eat ever – just what is allowed in the kitchen at work for 8 days out of the year.

    8. Kelly O*

      He’s just getting it out of the area where his food, and presumably others who are keeping kosher for Passover, would be.

      I realize not everyone gets the religious issues with food, but Passover is a very, very holy time for those who follow the Jewish faith. It’s eight days out of the year that you can’t stick your ham sandwich in the fridge. I don’t find that unreasonable at all.

      (I do have one friend who has a spare fridge in her garage, and while she meticulously cleans out her kitchen and fridge for Passover, all non-kosher food goes in the garage because technically it’s not the house, so she’s not wasting. And she steps down her purchasing before Passover starts, so it’s a bit easier.)

  2. Jake*

    I tend to side with businesses over employees for the simple reason that it is their business, their risk, etc. and there is not a single employee forced to be there. There are definitely exceptions, but those tend to be legally defined.

    This situation definitely falls under the, his business, his rules umbrella in my mind. It is either worth dealing with to remain employed or it is worth finding an employer that doesn’t have these restrictions.

    1. De Minimis*

      I agree, and this is just one of the things you can run into if you work for a small business. Eight days out of the year wouldn’t be a huge deal to me.

      1. Kelly O*


        Eight days is not worth making a fuss. Particularly if this boss allows all sorts of Christmas festivities.

        1. Last time, for real.*

          I’m not Harper C, but I’d say, in addition to all the reasons there are antidiscrimination laws, that business owners get a lot of cultural, political, and monetary capital out of being Job Creators (TM), and so they should in return actually offer something to society, and be mindful that their success is built on the backs of others. In terrible job markets like this one, you can’t rely on the free market to weed out bad business for bad business practices like treating good employees like garbage.

          Also: antidiscrimination laws.

          The larger philosophies are not useful for most letter writers here in a practical sense. But Jake seemed to be saying that he always “sides” with businesses on everything theoretically as well as pragmatically.

          1. the gold digger*

            You mean these small businesses where the owner takes all the risk? Invests all the capital? Makes sure to meet payroll whether or not there is enough revenue? Pays herself last after paying employees and vendors? Creates jobs where there were none before?

            Those people building “on the backs of others?”

      1. Evan (in the USA)*

        How? The only risk I can see (absent medical concerns, which aren’t at issue here and would be excepted by koshur rules anyway) is the risk of unauthorized ham sandwiches spoiling in the car. But am I missing something?

          1. Mike C.*

            That I am. The owner or agents of the owner have way more power than employees do, and have more resources at hand to use the protections our legal system gives them by law.

  3. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

    OP here: I was unaware that his religion requires him to make his business kosher for Passover as well. Grasping that requirement inclines me to be more accommodating to him, because otherwise it feels like he’s just shoving it down our throat. My boss has a good heart; I guess he believed we knew it was required. I am grateful that he’s just hiding the food and not actually throwing it out and then actually cleaning to Passover standards (although the break room could use a good scrubbing).

    Any ideas for us Gentiles to store our lunches when our sandwiches aren’t kosher for Passover? Going out for lunch each working day is not an option.

    1. De (Germany)*

      Well, do you really have to use the fridge? Sandwiches are usually fine just sitting in your bag for hours.

        1. Chinook*

          Could you do a PB&J on fajita bread or pita bread? These are all unleavened (since all that means is no yeast or baking soda to make the bread rise)

          1. fposte*

            No, the rules are stricter than just a lack of yeast. It’s possible somebody has created tortillas that are kosher for Passover, in which case they’ll probably be labeled as such, but they’re not inherently okay.

            1. amaranth16*

              The OP doesn’t have to consume food that is kosher for passover for these two days. The OP just needs to keep any food that’s not kosher for passover out of the office kitchen. The OP can bring a kosher-for-passover lunch and keep it in the fridge (I’m not Jewish but I think these should all be acceptable: a salad dressed with oil and vinegar or lemon juice, roasted vegetables, vegetable soup) or just bring a nonperishable lunch (PB&J, hummus and veggie sandwiches – hell, when I was a kid I brought tuna or roast beef sandwiches to school for lunch and didn’t refrigerate them).

              This strikes me as a very minor inconvenience, and it sounds like it would be an abridgment of the employer’s free exercise of religion if he were forced to keep a non-kosher kitchen.

              1. Mike C.*

                The boss made it very clear that he doesn’t want his employees to consumer certain foods for religious reasons.

                1. fposte*

                  Consume in the office space, that is; there’s no indication that he has interest in what happens out of the office.

                2. fposte*

                  To expand–he’s not objecting to the consumption of these foods; he’s saying those foods can’t be in his office space. I think that’s different.

            2. JB*

              There are recipes for KFP bread, and there are probably breads you can order online, or at least mixes. It won’t be exactly like store-bought bread, but you can make a sandwich with it. (Because there is some overlap with my diet restrictions and KFP, I have a passing familiarity with KFP foods, but I’m not an expert or even close. But until I developed even more food allergies, Passover was my favorite time of year.)

          2. Anonymous*

            No, they are leavened – if rose or fermented in any way, shape of form, it’s considered leaven.

    2. Xay*

      Buy a small soft-sided cooler and put an ice pack in it. Back to school/end of summer sales should have a ton of them. I don’t use the fridge at my job because there is rarely space, but I have a soft sided cooler with a reusable ice pack that can fit a frozen meal, yogurt, fruit and a drink.

      1. BRR*

        I posted the exact same thing below. Works out great, don’t have to worry about anybody futzing with my lunch.

      2. Ginger*


        I do this with my lunch every day because our office fridge is so disgusting and packed full of science experiments that I don’t use it. The ice packs I user keep my dishes cool enough for a few hours that I feel comfortable with the level of food safety.

      3. Simonthegrey*

        I do this because so many people are in and out of our tiny fridge that it is cranked to be very cold, and my hardboiled eggs or coffee creamer freezes solid if I keep them in there.

      4. Jenna*

        Also, if you have your own cooler then you don’t have to deal with as much food theft. I hear that has been an issue some places. :)

    3. fposte*

      Can you bring in a cooler, or have a separate mini-fridge that stays in an office?

      Alternatively, you could go with stuff that doesn’t need refrigeration for that week–canned stuff is probably out because of needing kitchen prep and thus running afoul of kosher restrictions, but add-water stuff like noodles might work.

      1. Crawling*

        I used to work in an office with no kitchen facilities, but we did have a kettle and some of the add water noodles are not bad to have as an occasional thing. You can get add water soup powders too, some of those are alright. Tinned stuff, like tuna, with some crackers or a wrap and you can add tomatoes or whatever you fancy. If you have access to a microwave there are a lot of microwavable rice, lentil, and pasta dishes that do not need refrigeration and are actually pretty good.

        There are also sandwiches you can make that don’t need refrigeration – PB&J being a classic. Add fruit and a bag of potato chips to make it more of a meal. Or depending on how many hours it is between when you leave home and when you eat lunch (and how hot your office is) a frozen meal that can be eaten cold could work. It will defrost during the morning and be ready to eat at lunch. We do that to tube yogurts, sliced fruit, cheese sticks and juice boxes for my son’s field trip lunches as they generally don’t have a way to refrigerate things then.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I would go with an insulated lunch bag with a couple of ice packs. Should keep things plenty cold enough for half a day or so. And as someone pointed out in last week’s Friday open thread – with all the back-to-school sales going on, now is the perfect time to pick up a new one!

    5. annie*

      Bring stuff that doesn’t need to be in the fridge – peanut butter, hummus and pita, canned soup you can heat up in the microwave, etc. Or use a lunch bag that’s insulated with a little cooler block thingy? And honestly, your ham and cheese will be fine without being in the fridge for a few hours too. I’ve never had access to a fridge at a place I worked for years, and we didn’t have a cafeteria in my school growing up, so this seems like a not big deal at all to me. Frankly I’d probably just go out to lunch for that week and consider it a Passover gift to myself, even though I’m not Jewish!

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I was unaware that his religion requires him to make his business kosher for Passover as well. Grasping that requirement inclines me to be more accommodating to him, because otherwise it feels like he’s just shoving it down our throat.

      I can totally see why it felt that way, especially in a country where there’s often a lot of evangelizing going on. One thing to know about Jews is that, unlike a lot of faiths, Judaism doesn’t have an evangelical component to it; there’s no element of trying to convert others. You’re either Jewish or you’re not, and if you’re not, Jews don’t think you need to follow their rules. This is just your boss trying to be compliant himself.

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        Also it sounds like by not “shoving it down your throat” and offering a clear explanation and saying, “Next week is Passover–for 1 week only bring in your coffee and don’t brew it here, be sure to bring kosher(ish) lunches (no bread please)” he’s actually being too sensitive and allowing for miscommunication.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I agree. This is a really good example of a situation where both the OP and the boss seem to be well-meaning and it was largely a communication deficit that wrong-footed the situation.

          1. OhNo*

            I agree. When I first read the letter I found the boss’ position oddly intrusive, but now that Alison’s explained the rules, everything makes much more sense.

            OP, would it help the others in your office to spread this information around? I suspect that you are not the only one who gets annoyed by the rules. Perhaps if you explained to your fellow non-Jewish employees, you could all come up with a solution together.

            1. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

              I got irritated about the ‘no coffee’ edict last year and with only two working days of Passover this year, I took vacation. I don’t know what the other two Gentiles did.

              This coming spring, Passover starts on Saturday, which means we’ll be working four days. We’ll either have to keep lunches at our desk (in a cooler or otherwise) or go out for lunch.

              1. Who are you?*

                Picnic in the park with the other people in the office? :)

                Is there any way you could eat a larger breakfast and then snack on kosher for passover snacks for lunch? If getting away from your desk for that time is necessary, go for a walk while you eat your snack?

              2. Chinook*

                I can see the “no coffe” edict being the thing for my coworkers to take a stand over (especially since I have worked at places where the closest coffee shop was a 15 minute walk). You can take away anything, else but not their coffee because, frankly, they wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun to be around that week.

                But, if given AAM’s explanation and notice, I could definitely see many of them looking forward to Timmy runs and even checking with the other Gentiles before they get their next cup.

              3. Observer*

                As for the coffee, your best bet is probably to get KFP Instant coffee. Technically, you could get regualt KFP coffee, but the machine could turn into an issue.

      2. AVP*

        Unless you are the rival “Jews for Jesus” and Hasidim recruiters facing off against each other in midtown Manhattan! To be fair, I think they’re only trying to recruit other Jews into their specialty area, not Gentiles.

        1. Anonymous*

          Well, the Chasidim, at least, are certainly only going after Jew – and would not expect to do that in the work place.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            I was going to say this. Certain Jewish sects get CRAZY evangelical about those of us who have fallen from the fold. I remember getting free menorahs from the Lubavitcher van when I was a kid.

            1. fposte*

              And now I have a picture of some otherworld equivalent of an ice-cream truck, with kids begging their parents to run out to the van and get a menorah.

            2. Office Mercenary*

              When I lived in Crown Heights, Lubavitchers would regularly walk up and ask me if I was Jewish. Sometimes they invited me to study Torah or gave me candles, sometimes they wanted to set me up with a relative who’s looking for a wife, sometimes they asked me to press buttons (e.g. in an elevator) for them, etc. Most of the time I would answer, sorry, I’m not Jewish and 90% of the time they would politely apologize and wish me a nice day. 10% of the time they’d give me the side eye and ask, “Are you sure?”

              1. Felicia*

                That’s because they only want to convert other Jews to what they feel is the correct form of Judaism. Even they are against converting non Jews. As a fairly secular Jew I find that annoying, they don’t try and convert non Jews.

            3. GreatLakesGal*

              No, the Lubavitchers want to ‘ convert’ less-religious Jews to Max-religious Jews– they have no particular interest in converting Christians, Muslims, Buddhists etc!

      3. TotesMaGoats*

        And Christians who are evangelizing are just trying to be compliant with their religion. While I agree that trying to convert your employees or coworkers is way out of bounds, would the same consideration be offered here for the extremely observant Catholic who is the sole owner of a business and is observing Lent by removing all (coffee, meat etc). I know Lent is longer than 8 days and technically speaking isn’t on the level of Passover from a required perspective but I think the argument can still stand.

        Also, I’m not Catholic.

          1. Chinook*

            To my knowledge, the Vatican has never said that Catholic business owners are required Lenten penance for their workplace and/or employees (atleast not since the beginning when they insisted on baptizing entire families, including servants and slaves and we stopped that over 1,500 years ago). Extra donations are encouraged, though.

            BTW, say what you will about a religion with bureacracy, but atleast we have someone who can clearly say yes/nay to something.

            1. De Minimis*

              This is a total tangent, but I recall in history class back in college when we were studying some of the various “witch crazes” that happened in Europe, the prof said that actually the Catholic countries had far fewer people executed for witchcraft than the Protestant countries, precisely due to all the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church—everything had to be investigated by higher level officials so a lot of cases did not get very far.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            No, I’ve never heard of that. Raised Catholic here. You just can’t eat it yourself. You could go to a barbecue on Friday during Lent and just eat side dishes. BTW, it’s not a requirement anymore anyway, which is good because when I was observant, I always forgot and ate a bologna sandwich. :P

            1. Simonthegrey*

              And it was never a requirement if you had health or medical issues, or if fasting would promote a hardship because you had some kind of manual/physical labor job.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              I agree. Growing up Catholic, Lent seemed to be all about what you were doing, and nothing about making others do it with you. Just a clear focus on one’s self and staying on track with abstaining for x or y or z., whatever your commitment was for the season.

              Someone told me that the fish on Friday thing came about because they wanted to increase sales of fish.I never took the time to research that one.

        1. the gold digger*

          Catholic fasting and dietary requirements are not as strict as kosher rules. It’s only about what the Catholic eats. The rules are no meat on Fridays (abstinence) and fasting on some days (which means two light meals). These rules are waived for young children, pregnant women, old people, and sick people. There are no rules about not needing to have a meat-free fridge. And anyone who gives up coffee for Lent is making a far greater sacrifice than I would. Even God doesn’t ask that.

          BTW, I have been bringing my breakfast and lunch to work for years, including hard boiled eggs and hamburgers, and have never put my lunch bag in the fridge. I keep it at my desk and eat at lunchtime. Not using the fridge does not have to be a hardship.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Although, I have seen people give up all kinds of stuff- alcohol, desserts, bingo, etc. You’re supposed to give up something that is actually difficult for you to do.
            If you never go to the movies, then giving up movies is empty, it’s nothing.

        2. Diet Coke Addict*

          I think the difference would be is that kosher (as I understand it) specifically forbids certain foods from being on the premises.

          Catholics who observe meatless Fridays on Lent can spend all day long cooking meat, smelling meat, whatever, as long as they don’t eat it. Similarly, abstaining from whatever they’ve chosen to abstain from (coffee, sweets, whatever) is a personal decision and has nothing to do with your interaction with the goods. A Catholic could perfectly well work at a butcher shop slash bakery slash coffee shop and still be fine in observing his or her Lenten practice.

          1. Chinook*

            “A Catholic could perfectly well work at a butcher shop slash bakery slash coffee shop and still be fine in observing his or her Lenten practice.” They would probably be fine but not the happiest employee that day (not angry at others for eating what they can’t, more suffering from the increased penance of having to be constantly reminded of what we can’t have.)

            As for exceptinos to rules, special dispensations can be given by local bishops from these rules for healthy adults. My grandfather never kept lent while in the military (in order to keep in top physical preparedness), I once heard that the Irish never had to for so many generations after the potato famine, and I had another priest tell us about being told that, if you accidentally eat somethign you shouldn’t, it would be a sin to spit it out and waste the food. Instead, you have to finish eating it and live with the guilt. :)

        3. The IT Manager*

          Catholics don’t eat meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent (seafood is fine). They’re supposed to fast as well, but there’s nothing about food preparations or keeping a Lenten kitchen so a business owner wouldn’t impact any of his employees.

          Not sure what the coffee has to do with it Lent at all.

              1. De Minimis*

                There are a few Christian sects that don’t drink coffee at all, but I don’t think any of them observe Lent.

                1. fposte*

                  Right, and I was wondering during this discussion if there are, for instance, Mormon-run businesses that don’t allow coffee on the premises; my guess, though, is that they’d just not offer coffee as a perk.

                2. De Minimis*

                  Adventists were the ones I was thinking of.

                  I recall a somewhat large company near my hometown that was owned by Adventists. I think the only restriction they had was that they did not allow employees to smoke during the workday [this was long enough ago to where it was considered unusual.]

                3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                  Some Mormon-run businesses don’t sell coffee or tea, but many of them still do. Like with Catholics, the prohibition is on the Mormon him/herself not to partake; it doesn’t necessarily forbid you from providing it for others who do (although some people do take it that far). I’d say you’d see fewer Mormon-owned business selling alcohol, but there are exceptions even to that (like the Marriott hotels, Mormon-owned grocery stores, etc.).

                  And yes, Mormons don’t typically observe Lent (although I decided to give up soda for Lent last year. Interesting exercise).

                4. ThursdaysGeek*

                  @fposte – I worked for a farm owned by the LDS church*, and they not only had coffee and a coffee-maker in the work kitchen, I think they provided the coffee for us non-Mormons. All of the upper management was LDS, but there were plenty of the rest of us too.

                  *Yes, by the church itself, not by someone who belonged to the church.

                5. Helka*

                  LDS, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Scientists… there may be others, but those are the three off the top of my head.

                6. Amy*

                  Seventh Day Adventists are basically responsible for the whole-grain craze…interestingly their dietary restrictions are primarily in response to a religious ‘edict’ to have as healthy a diet as possible, as opposed to other denominations/religions where certain foods may be deemed spiritually ‘unclean’ (Judaism, Islam) or symbolic of something (meat on Fridays for lent-observing Catholics and Anglicans).

        4. Niki*

          I am Catholic. Even though lent goes for 40 days, you only go without meat on each Friday and then fast on a couple holy days but it wouldn’t really inconvenience anyone else in the office. Catholicism doesn’t have strict Kosher laws like Judaism. During lent on a Friday I can sit next to my coworker chowing down on an Italian sub. I just can’t eat any of it myself.

          1. Chinook*

            Actually, there are Catholics who do no-meat Fridays except for Feast Days (think Saint Day for the Saint they are named after) . Again, it isn’t a case of how you keep your kitchen but a type of self-discipline that really makes you think about every food you put in your mouth.

        5. Kelly*

          I was raised Catholic and it varies depending on how observant you are. My dad’s family in Wisconsin uses Lent Fridays as justification to go to fish fries, usually all you can eat. That kind of defeats the purpose about abstaining from meat being a sacrifice, because the food is usually delicious. My mom took a different approach, usually making something vegetarian or a salad for dinner. It was more of a sacrifice because she limited the portions and servings we could have.

          1. Traveler*

            We always ate fast food fish, and let me tell you, that was a sacrifice! Except, then I developed a weird taste for it. Sometimes I wonder if thats how those fast food fish places stay in business.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Ha ha!
              We had these gross square fish patties at school every Friday during Lent, even though the Catholics in my hometown were a small minority. I didn’t mind too much, as we usually had mac & cheese along with it, and it was kinda tasty. Or I’d just bring my lunch that day, or once I got past the junior high age restriction for the snack bar, hit that up for some Lance crackers and a chocolate shake.

        6. Anonymous*

          I grew up in a Catholic country where it’s traditional to eat pastry for dinner on Fridays, which the older generation still does. Dessert for dinner, yay!

        7. Suz*

          The difference is a Catholic is allowed to have meat in their house/office during lent. They’re just not allowed to eat it.

      4. just a gentile*

        Yeah. And I’d even give some leeway to minority religions that can be evangelical to impose this for a few days. Halal for a few days? Bring it! Vegan on Monday? Maybe a chore, but not that bad. Whereas US society is so infused with Christian beliefs that it would annoy me far more.

        Note also expand on what AAM said about spreading the faith, there are Jewish sects that push hard to get people born Jewish to follow their stricter versions of Judaism. Not the same as evangelicalism, but to the targets it is kind of close. Here in NYC some Jewish friends find this annoying. And there are some extreme sects in NYC and in Israel trying to force their nonsense on lots of people, especially women around what they wear in public. But for sure relatively liberal Judaism is easy to co-exist with.

        Anyway, in terms of shoving things down our throats….how about delicious slow-cooked beef brisket. Yummmy.

      5. Dorothy*

        And this is one of the reasons (as a private, non-evangelical Christian) why I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jews.

    7. Zillah*

      I mentioned this above, I think, but if it’s generally not even for a full week, would it be possible to ask your boss to give the three of you a little extra money that week to go out to lunch? That way, his business stays kosher and you wouldn’t have to pay the extra money to eat out. With just three of you and for just a few days, I can’t imagine that it would be all that expensive.

      1. Colette*

        That seems out of line to me – this is a predictable request, and the employees have a lot of options available to them. They are not required to eat out, and if they want to do so, they should pay for it themselves.

        1. Zillah*

          Yeah, the more I’m thinking about it, the more I’m leaning toward “Just deal with it.” I want to be sympathetic to the OP, but as someone who deals with having to navigate finding foods that don’t upset any of my allergies every day, this is really not a huge hardship.

          1. bearing*

            It seems to me that the people who take umbrage at this situation are specifically taking umbrage because the boss’s reason is religious. As a result they are trying hard to think up reasons why it is intolerable for the employees to put up with this unreasonable situation.

            I submit that they would not take umbrage, nor find the situation intolerable, if he had a reason that was unrelated to religion (for example, if he wanted the fridge and kitchen to be off limits so it could be thoroughly cleaned once a year) even if it created the EXACT same level of inconvenience for the employees.

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              That’s an interesting thought–if the kitchen were completely closed two days a year so it could be, I don’t know, pressure-washed and painted, resulting in exactly the same inconvenience (“You can’t bring any food into the kitchen–if you want to eat at work you have to keep it at your desk or in your car”), would people be taking such umbrage?

              Similarly, would there be the same outcry if an office banned all food on premises at all? “We do not allow any food in this office” for whatever reason.

              1. Cat*

                I don’t see how it’s related. People are taking umbrage because it’s religious because we have a fundamental belief that people are free to practice and free not to practice religion. That’s entirely different than maintenance having to be done on a physical space.

                1. Zillah*

                  In some ways, I do see your point. However, I do think that the practical impact of this needs to be part of this discussion – if you’re going to stand firm entirely on principle, then it’s only logically consistent to protest strenuously against religious holidays like Christmas getting any recognition, or even against holiday decorations on display outside of people’s homes.

                  This situation is not an enormous imposition. You may be theoretically opposed to it, but the practical cost is pretty minor – the OP needs to either keep kosher or store her food in her desk drawer rather than the fridge for 2-4 days once a year. Arguing against that does come across as callous toward another person’s deeply held faith.

                2. Colette*

                  No one is asking the OP to practice a religion, though – just to respect the owner’s religion. I’d feel differently if the owner were restricting kitchen use as a way of “encouraging” others to practice the religion, but it seems pretty clear that the restriction is required as part of his own practice.

                3. fposte*

                  It’s interesting, because I feel like my atheism is leading me to treat the religious aspect of the reason as if it were the same as any other/secular ownerly whim; that means I mostly just care about the impact, and I think I feel the same about religious-based decisions I object to. You want to close the kitchen for a week for Passover or a week-long Spirograph marathon? Annoying week for me, but are you otherwise a good boss in a good workplace? Then I’ll probably get over it. You want to cut costs in ways that affect my sex life but not men’s sex lives? I don’t really care if it’s because you’re religious or it’s because you’re cheap, that’s going to piss me off.

    8. Niki*

      Would it be the end of the world to bring lunches that week that don’t need to go in the fridge? or bring a cooler even or a lunch box with an ice pack? Many offices don’t even have fridges. Also, I am pretty sure everyone growing up managed to bring lunch to school without the use of a fridge.

    9. Amethsyt*

      I work in a synagogue and am not Jewish. Normally I am just asked to eat “kosher style” but Passover is different. Last Passover, I was allowed to keep *sealed* food in my purse and eat outside. Thankfully the weather held, because I didn’t have a car to sit in.

      As for specifics I recommend stuff that doesn’t have to be refrigerated: peanut butter sandwiches, an assortment of snacks (nuts, crackers, etc.), and fruit. Yogurt will generally hold in an insulated lunchbox with an ice pack. School kids’ lunches sit outside of a fridge that long, so I figured I’d be safe and I didn’t get sick… I fully admit I also just bought a Lunchable one day because it was easy to eat outside!

      Side note: The rabbi here okayed me bringing raw fruit for the fridge, but we are Conservative, not Orthodox, so your boss may be more strict. It might be worth asking if you can just keep an apple or something around for snacks though.

      1. Mints*

        Lunchables has a like “crackers creations” or something that is exactly like a lunchable, but targeted to adults.

        Actually, would that be kosher?
        I eat tuna and crackers almost every day for lunch (I eat outside) and I think that might be kosher?

        1. BRR*

          The rule is technically no wheat, oats, rye, barley, or spelt. My mom eats matzah crackers and tuna a lot turning passover.

          Sidebar: I had gluten free matzah last year and it was awesome. Like i’d eat it all year around.

          1. Mints*

            Actually, thinking more logically, since tuna and crackers don’t need refrigeration or microwaves, the OP could keep that at her desk and eat outside of the office. So that would be a safe choice for the non kosher but also not using the business space

          2. Kelly O*

            +1 – I accidentally bought that as part of an experiment I was doing and it was really, really good. Awesome accident.

            1. BRR*

              I spent the entire sedar going, “Oh apparently it was the gluten that makes it taste awful.”

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            Depends how strict the kosher-keeper is. If there’s any chance the grain ever got wet – and there is – then there’s a chance the fermentation can have begun, and fermenting leads to leavening, so the safest thing (and thus the rabbinical rule) is just to avoid grains and cereals altogether. Which is why there’s special KFP Coca-Cola made with sugar; there’s not a shred of leaven in high-fructose corn syrup, but there is a shred or two of corn, so there you go.

              1. Aunt Vixen*

                Sephardic (southern – Spanish, Mediterranean, north African, Israeli) Jews have slightly-to-significantly different practices from Ashkenazic (northern – generally eastern European) Jews, but in the Ashkenaz tradition, yes, I think the safest thing if you’re trying to be rigorously observant is to avoid all grains that haven’t been strictly supervised and certified to be acceptable. (Sephardim rely so much on rice, I understand, that this is not practicable in their case.) Matzo is obviously made from grain, but I mean there are people who don’t eat matzo ball soup at Passover because of the slight chance some of the grain wasn’t fully baked and therefore might begin to ferment when it is dampened. If I were trying to be as kfp as possible for someone else’s reasons, I think I would simply avoid grain entirely for the (short!) duration.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  So I posted about this above, but I’m the designated keeper of my Jewish friend’s chametz every passover. The first time I was shocked by how much she brought over – I thought it would just be bread and crackers and things. She came with vinegar, all vinegar-based products, anything grain-related. It was stunning. I had to set aside more room than I originally planned :)

                  It’s become a fun tradition for us though and always ends with us baking bread.

                2. Aunt Vixen*

                  Extra fun: there are also kosher rules about grape products made by non-Jews. Whole grapes are okay, but if they’ve been processed at all – even into jelly – there are concerns about consuming wine made by idolaters. So your friend’s wine vinegar would probably also have been at your house. :-) And that’s how come all the kosher wine – though thankfully there are now options beyond Manischewitz and King David and we can have actual wine at Passover instead of something from a bottle with a muffin recipe on the label.

    10. Bwmn*

      Regarding the unkosher for Passover food in the kitchen – what would be the more religiously appropriate thing to do would be if he “sold” all of the food to you or another non-Jewish coworker. It was removed from the premise of the building, and then “sold” back to the boss after the holiday. Offering to take all of the kitchen items during the holiday might be a way to open a larger discussion about what would be acceptable alternatives for the nonobservant. Especially since you’ll have more than two days in the office in 2015.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Or he could do the same with the business. Don’t some Orthodox business owners have arrangements like this? Does anyone know? I swear I’ve heard of this.

    11. EB*

      I actually don’t have a kitchen at work (and no microwave either), and unless I decide to buy a fridge for myself and put it in my office I have nowhere to put food to let it cool(I am not up for spending the $70-$100 it would take). I bought a insulated bag at Ross and a small ice pack from CVS and take things like sandwiches and yogurt to work in that (total cost under $10). I just picked up a small cooler from a garage sale ($4) which will give me more room.

      Honestly, outside of things like milk products, most food is pretty stable for a couple of hours. PB&J, sandwiches with mayonnaise, bags of carrot sticks with hummus should be fine unless it’s pretty hot in your office.

      What i actually wish I could have is a microwave because one of my favorite lunches is cooked spinach with garbanzo beans and feta (at home dump fresh baby spinach into a microwavable container, top with garbanzo beans out of a can, sprinkle paprika and garlic salt on top, then add feta. When you are at work nuke for about a minute). I’ve gotten around that by cooking the spinach at home, spritzing lemon juice on it, and eating it cold, but in the winter I long for the ability to nuke soup for lunch.

    12. abby*

      Where I work, there is a refrigerator but it’s actually pretty gross and I don’t want to put my food in there. I purchased a cheap, insulated bag at Target and an ice pack. I place this bag under my desk, and this keeps my lunch just fine and dandy until I’m ready to eat. We do not have a break room, so I usually eat at my desk (I know you can’t do this) or I sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.

      Also, because Passover occurs regularly, you and your non-observing co-workers could actually help your boss by removing your non-kosher food items from the break room ahead of time. This way, you have access to them (they are not hidden) and maybe he’ll give the break room a good, proper scrubbing.

  4. Ted*

    So, Allison, can you ask your sister what happens if an Orthodox Jew is sole proprietor of a supermarket?

    I guess the strictest observers wouldn’t put themselves in that predicament… but I am sure that somewhere out there is an Orthodox or Hasidic person who owns a food store or restaurant or even convenience store where a lack of chametz in stock would lead to a devastating fall-off in business.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I asked her something similar! There’s a thing where you “sell” ownership of the non-kosher stuff to a non-Jew for $X but they pay just $1 now, with a contract that says that if they fail to pay you the remaining amount by (9 days later), it reverts to your ownership. (Both parties do this with the understanding that the remaining amount won’t be paid, and it will indeed revert back to the original owner.)

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          This is so interesting to me! I’m almost afraid of pulling the discussion down some off-topic rabbit hole, but in Missa’s link, it mentions that Orthodox Jews can neither own “nor benefit from” the sale of chametz during Passover. So if they “sell” all that stuff to a third party, wouldn’t said third party have a claim on the revenues for any inventory that leaves the shelves during their week of ownership?

          1. Leah*

            Nope. Same for Jews who own businesses (such as supermarkets) that remain open on shabbat (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) as well as the holidays that require one to not work (ie Rosh Hashanah (2 days) , Yom Kippur, first two days of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat, first two and last two days of Passover, and Shavuot (2 days)). Those dates would be worked into ownership agreements and, essentially, the Jewish owners have to suck it up.

        2. Anonymous*

          It’s important to note that the contract IS legally binding and if the non-jew decides for some reason that he actually wants to keep this stuff, he needs to pay the amount in the contract. (Given that the terms generally allow the seller to demand full payment at once, this is generally not likely to happen when dealing with rational people.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My father used to talk about Christians and Jews covering each other’s businesses or jobs on holy days. This was back in the 30s-40s. Apparently, you would find someone you trusted to keep their word and you would just switch off with them.
            He never indicated he heard of any problems from switching like this.

            What you are talking about here, must be in a similar vein. There must be enough honest/sincere people out there to keep this practice alive.

    1. nuqotw*

      Orthodox Jew here. The thing that makes Passover so complicated, kosher-wise, is that in addition to not being allowed to eat anything leavened, you can’t even own it. If your business (e.g. grocery store) sells leavened foods (and the list is long; you would be amazed how much stuff contains some sort of grain product) you have basically two options:

      (1) Something akin to the small percentage non-Jewish silent partner, although it actually has to go further than that in the case of a food-oriented business. You can effect a contract that sells your business (in full) to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday and then gives you the option to buy back your business at the end of the holiday. The details of this contract are specified in Jewish law, but it is essentially a legal loophole that makes it possible for the grocery store to exist year round.

      (2) Get rid of all of your leavened products before Passover and restock afterwards.

      You may think (1) sounds like cheating, but Jewish law tends to embrace this sort of thing when it leads to practical benefit. Option (2) would essentially put the grocer out of business annually. If (2) is the only choice on the table, the grocer would probably just find another line of work. That’s no good, since many people would like to have a grocery store from which to buy food.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I love the way Jewish law allows for loopholes. For a non-Jew, it’s pretty fun to sit around with my Jewish friends and figure out various possibly-acceptable workarounds. It’s like a big religious rules puzzle game, plus we learn about each others’ culture.

        1. fposte*

          I know–it seems so sane to me when rules acknowledge that situations can be more important than the letter of the law.

        2. De Minimis*

          Only nominally related, but I read this book about Amish culture once and apparently they spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways around the rules, especially the people who own businesses. Pretty interesting some of the things they have come up with—they use compressed air to operate a lot of equipment, for example.

          1. Anon*

            This is really interesting. I found a website selling Amish books once. I’m still curious about that entire process.

          2. LPBB*

            The Amish are really interesting because each community makes its own decisions about what’s allowed and what isn’t. I used to live in an area with a number of different Amish communities and what was allowed in the community north of town was not necessarily allowed in the community to the south. It was fascinating on the rare occasion that the Amish we worked with would talk about other communities. All sorts of subtle differences that “English” people would never notice could be really huge.

          3. Natalie*

            And (like all religions, I guess) there are different levels of observance among different sects. A lot of Amish business people own cell phones – they just power them down outside of their office or shop or whatever. Provided there is no phone intruding into their home life, it’s completely okay for them to own a cell.

            1. De Minimis*

              What I found interesting was how each community chooses its religious leader [basically their pastor.] It’s usually done by a random drawing [often by placing something inside a hymn book and having all the men choose a book from a pile] , it’s a lifetime thing and is viewed more as a burden to be borne.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      A solid three quarters of Judaism is finding really clever, often narrow-your-eyes-and-sigh-“No, seriously?”, ways around religious requirements, so I bet there are some great stories about this.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Not to get too off topic, but my husband once did work for a family that strictly kept the rule about doing no work on the Sabbath – down to turning on or off light switches during the Sabbath. He changed out most of their light switches and lamps to motion sensors or timers, installed a programmable thermostat, and some other programmable outlets so that they could program various devices to turn on and off in advance of the Sabbath and not have to do the work of turning them on or off (for instance – a crock pot cooked food while the family was gone all day and kept it warm, then the timer turned it off so it didn’t burn down the house).
        It seems like home automation systems could really tap into this market with customized systems in areas with large practicing Jewish populations.

        1. Anonymous*

          Actually, while timers are mostly considered ok, motion sensor are a major problem. If your motion triggers something, it’s generally considered as though you had flipped that switch.

        2. Natalie*

          Interesting, it’s like the Sabbath elevator – it stops on every floor automatically so you don’t have to push the buttons.

          1. yasmara*

            I stayed near the top floor of a hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel on the Sabbath. Stupid gentile didn’t think to ask for a lower level room like all the Jews did! And I had to call the front desk to figure out how to turn off the Sabbath setting for the lights in my room (obviously they had someone non-observant staffing the front desk & answering the phone). I just chalked it up to a learning experience. And spent a lot of time on the elevator that day.

    3. soitgoes*

      Kosher delis actually do EXTREMELY well, especially these days, since the rules for Kosher slaughter place the meat within proper standards for local and organic designation. But it’s like any other supermarket that caters to a specific ethnic group – they go where their customers are.

      1. Leah*

        Kosher meat is not intrinsically organic or local. A majority of the kosher chicken along the east coast comes from Iowa. For poultry, kosher means how the animal was slaughtered, blood was immediately drained, and salted. For cows, sheep, goats, buffalo, and deer, it has to do with those things plus the state of the animal’s lungs at the time of slaughter and butchering around the sciatic nerve.

        There are definitely organic and local kosher meat purveyors, but nothing in kashrut (the body of kosher laws) that would require or encourage organic/local meats.

        1. ella*

          You would think that those ancient Hebrews would’ve been more supportive of local merchants and suspicious of pesticides! ;)

    4. Amethsyt*

      I didn’t pay attention to the grocery stores this year, but there’s a kosher bakery across the street from the synagogue where I work that just closes for Passover. They don’t make anything that’s kosher for Passover, so… Here it’s a very Jewish neighborhood so I think it’s not too big of a hit. They get lots of business otherwise, including catering a bunch of synagogues’ Shabbat afternoon meals every week.

  5. BRR*

    OP, a lunch box and ice pack would help this situation. My office fridge is so full of everyone’s junk like putting in 5 yogurts so they have breakfast every morning and 2 liter bottles of soda that I just use a lunch box and ice pack. That could be an alternative option to taking a vacation every Passover.

    Sidebar: I find it very interesting from a pseudo-anthropological point of view that the boss only keeps a kosher fridge during Passover. On the other hand my brother eats bacon on matzah because he doesn’t want to break Passover.

        1. Sara*

          Oh OK, got it…lol. Our equivalent would be, breaking fast during Ramadan with alcohol. I find it a little interesting, I may be going off topic so apologies for that….I’m Muslim and pork is *strictly* forbidden.. Even those who aren’t observant of other rules of the religion will stay away from pork (myself included)’s just a huge taboo, religiously and culutrally. OTOH, it seems like eating pork, while not kosher, isnt’ a big deal to non-observant jews? I wonder why?

          1. fposte*

            That’s a really interesting question–I hadn’t thought about the different kinds of things that are dealbreakers for people who aren’t otherwise hugely observant. I’m sure there are anthropologists who have more info on that, but it is interesting that similarly rooted dietary restrictions get their laces loosened, if you will, at different rates.

            1. Traveler*

              Yep. Lots of anthropological studies on this. At least in studies I’ve read – most of these restricted or forbidden foods were born out of practical necessities when they were first integrated into the religion. Not eating pigs for example, because pigs can carry some dangerous diseases that are transmittable to humans. As people began to adhere less strictly to their religions and approach them from a more secular point of view, they started moving away from some of those elements.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Growing up Catholic pork was fine at home. When I got older and decided to start eating better I was told do not eat pork. It’s the most polluted meat out there. (Really??)

                I never gave it a second thought. Pork has never bothered me, so I am okay here. That is what I thought to myself.

                One night I cooked pork chops. I made too much and gave the dog one of the extra chops. I felt so lousy the next day, I could not believe it. And the dog was dragging himself around the house, too.
                I went back and asked my practitioner. He indicated it was pretty normal that once a person cleans up their diet, they start noticing how much certain foods can really pull them down.
                I still love a nice pork roast once in a while. But it’s fascinating to learn about these old customs/laws that have been going on for thousands of years and see personal relevance today.

                1. Sara*

                  That’s interesting…. I went to a Catholic school but I never gathered that pork was forbidden. (I’m quickly trying to remember–no bacon in the school lunch but pepperoni pizza and ham sandwiches were the norm). Is it forbidden in Christianity/Catholicism?

                  Were you told not to eat pork because of your diet or religious/moral reasons?

                2. Traveler*

                  No, pork is not prohibited for Christians or Catholics – unless you count Fridays in Lent but that’s an all meat thing, not a pork specific thing.

            2. Sara*

              See, from a dietary example, I can understand why pork is forbidden. Then there’s the belief aspect of it. But I always wondered why it was such a taboo in most Muslim cultures, for those who were borderline secular or atheist.. Someone downthread or upthread mentioned how if you’re not raised with a particular food, you’re likely to dislike it as an adult as well and that makes sense too. I’ve just always been curiuos about the mentality behind it.

              For me personally, pork is the dealbreaker. I wont’ eat it. I’ve had it (by accident) but I would strongly prefer not to eat it. I haven’t yet met a Muslim person who actually does eat it or admit to eating it.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, I think I wasn’t clear–I was musing about the way the dealbreakers get constructed, not about the specific food taboos. Food taboos are so visceral that it doesn’t surprise me that that’s a dealbreaker (heck, I’m no vegetarian but every now and then meat just creeps me out); maybe what’s unusual here is how it stopped being a dealbreaker for Western Jews.

              2. Zahra*

                Non-practicing Muslim here: most of my family (me included) do eat pork. I don’t cook much of it except bacon and sausages, but it’s more a matter of not growing up with recipes for it. I’ll eat a pork roast with pleasure.

          2. Leah*

            Cultural taboos are hard to maintain when you’re 3% of the population in your home country. The prevailing cultural taboos are culturally Christian and far less restrictive. I know a number of non observant US Jews who refuse to eat pork or have meals that clearly mix meat and dairy (eg cheeseburger). Most of the Israeli Jews I know are secular and they don’t feel comfortable eating pork, shellfish, or mixing meat and milk because they grew up in a culture of it being both taboo and hard to find and they never changed when they moved to other places. Many tried pork at least once and were also pretty unimpressed.

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              Similarly, I went to a university with a large number of Muslim students, and when the student pub would cook bacon for breakfasts many of them would make a wiiiiiide detour around it, and when I asked my Muslim then-boyfriend, it was because lots of them found the smell of cooking bacon to be repulsive. Even if they weren’t the most observant halal eaters in the world, it just didn’t smell appetizing since they hadn’t grown up with it, at all, ever.

              1. Sara*

                That’s true. I grew up hating the smell of bacon. Even now, I’ll eat turkey bacon, but only wheN I really want to eat it. It’s a strong smell, either you love it or hate it. (not sure if pork bacon smells the same as turkey?)

                1. fposte*

                  More so. I quite like bacon and find the smell enticing while it’s cooking, but once it’s cooked, wow, I don’t want to still be smelling that in my house.

            2. just a gentile*

              My next door neighbor is an Israeli-born Jewish executive chef, cooking European and Latin American-inspired food, and he uses pork quite spectacularly in his work. He even schooled our local butcher on the proper way to make chorizo.

              This is in New York City.

              Also, the examples below about bacon are fairly extreme – bacon is a particularly intense smelling food. A pork chop is pork tenderloin is quite another thing and far less off-putting to someone raised without eating pork. Ditto even for intense pork products used in very small quantities as flavorings. Bacon or pancetta at the base of a stew for example.

          3. Valar M.*

            That’s interesting you say that because when I was a kid I worked at a Muslim owned/run restaurant. Quite a few of the people that worked there were what I would consider pretty observant. They sold American food though. They never ate the pork, but there was no getting around cooking it.

            1. Sara*

              As far as I know, selling pork/cooking it isn’t exactly forbidden, (although depending on how observant/strict you want to be), only eating it is.

          4. Chinook*

            I think there is also a point where, if you haven’t been raised eating pork, the smell of it is stomach turning, thus reinforcing the principle. I remeber teaching Home Ec and some kids were cooking eggs and bacon and three muslim girls asked to work in the hall because they found the smell stomach churning (and they were turning green while saying it). This was an eye opener for all of us in the room whose stomachs were rumbling in anticipation.

            1. Valar M.*

              Did the Home Ec teacher accommodate them? I was a vegetarian in HS, and asked (politely) if I could cook the rest of the meal but not the chicken as it was making me nauseous. It resulted in my Home Ec teacher launching into a diatribe about how ridiculous I was and how stupid it is to be vegetarian. I was mortified.

              1. Chinook*

                I was the substit home EC teacher that day and nad no problem with letting them work elsewhere because bacon is potent and they were turning green. I also left a note for the regular teacher so she couldd plan accordingly (because not teaching how to cook bacon for the rest of the class was not an option as it is a breakfast staple). Instead, I believe she chose one day when all the students did it (normally they could choose a project from a list) and those who didn’t want to cook it could work in the library on their workbook assignments.

                It also led to an interesting class discussion as the students were mostly white Christian or Cree and had never met someone who never ate pork, never mind found the smell sickening.

                And your teacher was a jerk. A decent Home Ec teacher would have embrassed your vegetarianism and had you create a balanced meal plan complete with recipes.

              2. Observer*

                What a terrible teacher! One who really doesn’t deserve the title. I’m not a fan of vegetarianism, but that has got to be one of the most out of line and STUPID responses I’ve seen. I’m sure it did lots to change you mind on the subject too

            2. Felicia*

              My parents were never religious or never kept kosher, but my grandparents did. As a result, I was never served pork growing up, nor was I served any dairy/meat combo. As a result I find both the smell and taste of pork stomach turning, and I have learned to like pepperoni pizza and cheeseburgers – which my parents didn’t serve but I was never forbidden from, but I still find the idea of drinking milk with a meal that contains meat to be stomach turning. I’ve tried to think why I like one but not the other, and I think it’s because there’s easy access to pepperoni pizza and cheeseburgers from restaurants,, but restaurants don’t really serve milk generally , so i’d only have it as a kid at other peoples’ homes, and friends’ parents didn’t mind when I said I didn’t want to drink milk with a meat dish – there was always water!

              Now I wonder if it’s common to develop an aversion to any food you were never served growing up. I know my friend was raised vegetarian by 2 vegetarians and she find meat equally stomach turning.

              1. fposte*

                I think meats are probably the most challenging food group, because they’re so tied into what groups consider moral (this is unclean, that is sacred) and it’s got all those dicey putrefaction/fermentation elements that trigger evolutionary alarms. It’s like if you not only were trying to learn to like stinky cheese, you’d grown up with stinky cheese pets :-).

          5. Jillociraptor*

            Kashrut is so weird sometimes. My boyfriend, for example, would never eat a cheeseburger. Never, never, never. It’s the epitome of not-kosher for him. Philly cheese steak? No problem. One of his favorites.

            Many Jews have very complex, idiosyncratic personal rules of observance. Some people keep a strict Kosher kitchen in their house, but eat shellfish and pork in restaurants. Some will mix meat and milk dishes, but never meat and milk themselves.

            One partial explanation is that so much of the Jewish experience (and frankly probably the experience of any minority religion, or heck, any minority status) is about separateness and difference from the typical. Cheeseburgers are so ubiquitous–same with things like pepperoni pizza which I’ve found is another common no-no for Jews that would gladly down a shrimp cocktail–that it was one of those constant reminders as a child that you were different and it never quite feels right to “assimilate” to that particular food. Some Jews might go the opposite direction, straight into the arms of the forbidden fruit.

            It’s actually a very “Jewish” practice to question, interpret, and reinterpret your religious obligations. In some cases, sure, it’s an “I love bacon” kind of situation, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of these idiosyncratic “dealbreakers” get back to a more personal and fundamental question.

            1. Office Mercenary*

              Reminds me of vegetarians and Buddhists. I’ve been vegetarian far longer than I’ve been Buddhist but neither community can agree on what, if any, dietary and lifestyle restrictions are included.

      1. BRR*

        Pork is not kosher. I find it interesting as purely an conversation that the owner chooses to keep his kitchen kosher for Passover but is ok with it not being kosher the rest of the year. My brother is similar in that he follows Passover strictly but doesn’t follow general kosher rules including during Passover.

        1. fposte*

          It doesn’t seem that rare to me, though; it’s kind of the equivalent of Christians who go to church on holidays. I actually kind of like the way people find different ways to interpret being observant rather than it being an all or none thing.

          1. BRR*

            I agree, I like how people make it their own. Like my mom won’t mix meat and dairy in her meal but will use the same utensils for both but every time I go to my aunt’s house (her sister) I have to ask which set of silverware is which. My poor fiance on his first visit grabbed a plate and from across the room I yelled, “No, wait!”

          2. Katie the Fed*

            I do Lent but I don’t do any other Catholic thing anymore. But for some reason, I go all out on Lent. I think I like the experience of the sacrifice. My fiance thinks it’s funny but it’s important to me.

        2. Leah*

          For this owner, during the rest of the year there isn’t a problem with non kosher food being on his property (even if he rents the space) but there is a problem with it during Passover.

        3. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

          I don’t know why he doesn’t keep a kosher kitchen in the office other than he doesn’t use it except for coffee. As I understand it, the rules for refrigeration don’t exclude my pepperoni pizza being next to the kosher vegetables. In the microwave, well, no. Only one Jew in the office uses the break room for her lunch; the others go home to eat.

      2. Allison*

        Jewish people who keep kosher don’t eat it, but I’ve met plenty of Jewish people who don’t keep kosher. In fact I think I’ve only met one who did, and he only followed some of the rules.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think that this is stuff is on a par with the person who goes into a restaurant and orders a sundae with a diet soda.

      It seems to be human nature that we know what we are supposed to be doing and yet somehow not quite follow the program in it’s entirety. The reason does not matter. And we develop our own rationale that is uniquely ours.

  6. Ann Furthermore*

    I agree with Alison –I’d see this as co-existing with/respecting someone else’s faith. It is a bit inconvenient, but I’m assuming it’s just a week or so (I may be wrong; I’m not Jewish so I’m not sure how long Passover lasts). I would either plan to bring lunch that conformed to the kosher rules, or go out for lunch during that time. In the OP’s place, if I was generally happy with my job and not looking to move, this would be something I would just figure out how to deal with. I’m not trying to sound unsympathetic, but this is a pretty minor thing to have to accommodate, given some of the horror stories I’ve read on this blog.

    A few years ago my cubicle was across from a guy who was Muslim. One day he made a remark in passing about it being Ramadan. I felt bad because I’d been sitting there every day, happily eating my lunch, completely unaware that he was fasting. I may have even offered him a cookie a few times. LOL. I apologized, but he said it was not a problem because it was something he chose to do as part of his faith, and he did not expect everyone to tiptoe around him for a month every year.

    1. HarperC*

      See, I see a HUGE difference between your Muslim coworker’s attitude and the business owner in the OP’s.

      1. fposte*

        But that’s a difference rooted in the particular religious observances. So far as I can tell, Ramadan doesn’t require you to be only with people who are fasting or for every place you own to be food-free during sunup (Sara?); Judaism does require that the actual *place* be cleansed of the inappropriate food for that period.

        1. Sara*

          Yeah, pretty much. Beyond a reasonable expectation for accomodations (such as being able to take a break during a shift when its time to eat/pray, for example), the expectation is on the person fasting (to abstain from food/drink etc), not to forbid others from eating/drinking during the same hours.

    2. Traveler*

      On this subject – the World Cup and Ramadan coincided this year, which meant the more strictly observant Muslims on some of the teams were playing while fasting (in the sweltering Brazilian climate in some cases).

      1. Helka*

        Yikes, those poor guys :( Kudos to them for keeping their faith even when it would be really hard and tempting not to, but I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like.

        1. Melissa*

          I remember reading a couple of articles about it, and most of them were just more careful/selective about when they ate and when they trained/practiced so as not to overexert themselves. I think during Ramadan you only have to fast from sunrise to sunset.

  7. Sunflower*

    Is there anyway the boss would be willing either buy your lunch for the week and/or let you take a free lunch hour to either go home or go to a restaurant for the week? I think it would be a nice gesture if he was willing to work in some wiggle room for everyone

    1. PJ*

      Personally, I would not feel comfortable asking the boss for something like this. What he’s asking for is not a hardship.

      1. Gina*

        It is a hardship for people on a limited income. There are people for whom $5 extra a week wouldn’t be feasible.

        1. PJ*

          But there are so many other options that do not cost extra — quite a few of them have been mentioned in these comments. The boss shouldn’t have to fund something that isn’t going to cost his employees any additional money.

        2. Elysian*

          I don’t think its necessarily an extra $5. Its just $5 spent differently – eating your PBJ with crackers instead of bread, or something. Otherwise, there’s always eating the same thing you would have eaten, in your car or in a park or something.

      2. Sunflower*

        I could see buying lunch as a bit extreme but I think it would be a nice gesture if he allows the employees some extra free time to make accommodations for lunch and eating. Depending on the office type/atmosphere, it could be something really easy and simple that would let the employees know he isn’t trying to tell them what they can and can’t eat

      3. Mike C.*

        It’s not a hardship unless you have serious moral problems with someone in a superior position forcing you to follow their religious rules.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          He’s not. He’s saying you can’t use the kitchen for a few days. Jews don’t push other people to follow their religious rules; it’s actually totally contrary to Jewish law.

          1. fposte*

            I’m wondering if the title of this post didn’t wrong-foot some people, since the boss isn’t really making his employees keep kosher for Passover.

            1. Meg Murry*

              True. When I read the title, my first thought was “even at home? That’s way too intrusive.” But keeping the kitchen kosher for 2-4 days is a different story, and not so bad.

          2. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

            Alison, thanks for taking my question. I didn’t realize you were also Jewish before I asked. And regarding everything else religious, my boss is not pushy at all. He isn’t forcing us to eat matzah or fast or even forbidding our bacon-wrapped shrimp with cheese sauce!

            Every New Year’s Eve, we gather and eat kosher chili that the Jewish foodie makes, bring kosher packaged side foods and I bring sour cream too, to top my chili. They’re not remotely offended and I just keep it away from the rest of the food, so there’s no chance of spillage. That’s why the kosher-for-Passover kitchen has been such a thorn in my side, but now that I understand his obligation, I’ll just suck it up, buy my coffee before work and keep a cooler at my desk or dine out.

            1. Sigrid*

              Mmmmmm, bacon-wrapped shrimp in cheese sauce…. I could never keep Kosher. Very impressed with people who can.

              1. fposte*

                Somebody observant will have to answer more authoritatively, but I’m guessing the obstacle isn’t the coffee per se–plain black unflavored coffee with no milk is okay– but the need to clean the coffee equipment and utensils to a kosher for Passover degree; from what I can see coffeemakers might be in the category of stuff that can’t be considered to be clean enough for Passover use no matter what you do to it. (As noted elsewhere on the thread, many households keep separate dishes just for Passover, which avoids that problem.)

                Or the coffee-drinkers wouldn’t go without milk, which opens up its own complications.

  8. Episkey*

    So I’m a little confused. If the entire business is required to be Kosher Passover for these days, would it even be acceptable for OP to bring in any food that is not considered Kosher to the building at all? Even if it was stored in a cooler in her desk?

    I think maybe it would be easier to just do a little research and bring in a lunch that would be considered Kosher for these few days. OP, you said he closes the business for the non-working days and that it only amounted to 2 days last year. I don’t think that’s such a hardship.

    1. just a gentile*

      Read the post and AAM’s response. It’s not clear if you glance at it, but if you read it carefully the info is in there.

  9. KerryOwl*

    I a super-grumpy atheist, but I don’t think I’d have a problem with this. It’s a minor inconvenience for something that means a lot to the owner of the company. I’d just deal with it, and eat out for a week or something.

    1. De (Germany)*

      Yeah, same here from another grumpy Atheist ;-) And it really helps to understand the religious reason here.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Grumpy atheists unite! I’m more of a grumpy, lapsed catholic with atheist leanings, but whatev…

        I think the religion is a red herring, myself. Fact: it’s the owner’s fridge and kitchen. Fact: he is under no legal obligation to provide one. Fact: there are many arbitrary reasons he could have come up with to restrict usage of his fridge/kitchen but hasn’t.

        Seems like a reasonable request.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, if everyone argued too much he could just close down the kitchen permanently.
          All because of one week a year?

          No one has mentioned this consideration: how much the does the owner do for other people and their holidays? Do employees get Christmas off, for example?
          If this boss was pushing me out the door early on Christmas eve, I would do whatever it takes to accommodate him during his holy days.

          1. Felicia*

            A lot of people who celebrate Christmas don’t realize that it’s a religious holiday that some people dont celebrate. Since it’s not been their experience, often people don’t realize what it’s like to be forced to take off a holiday you dont celebrate while having to take vacation days for your own. Particularly around Christmas, for people who don’t celebrate Christmas it can be very othering.

            1. CoffeeLover*

              I don’t celebrate Christmas and just enjoy the free time without all the stress the Christmas celebraters have to face :P. To be honest, I have several friends who don’t celebrate and I’ve never heard anyone complain about it. From a practical view, it makes sense to cater to the majority while also being accommodating to the minority (i.e., allowing the vacation for religious events).

    2. pizzagrl*

      As a fellow super-grumpy athiest I have to agree. Most situations involving other people imposing their religion on others bother the hell out of me, but this seems like less of an imposition and more of a humanity/compassion thing.

    3. Jen RO*

      I’m a grumpy atheist and I would have a problem. Not enough to raise it with the boss, but it’s a *workplace*, religion shouldn’t be in there at all, ever! I don’t have a problem with people eating or not eating whatever, but I would feel very odd if someone tried to impose his religion’s practices on me.

      1. Jen RO*

        And maybe I am grumpy in general – I would feel just as odd if a vegan forbid me from keeping my milk in the office fridge, or if a vegetarian had problems with me eating meat.

        1. JoAnna*

          I’m curious – do you think PETA is in the wrong here? (from their website)

          Do you have to be vegetarian or vegan to work for PETA/FSAP?
          Some of our positions do require you to be vegan (e.g., all campaign positions, fundraising and development positions, and media spokesperson positions). However, many positions do not require this. We look for compassionate people to work here.

          1. Jen RO*

            I think it’s fine as long as it’s disclosed up front, so that people like me can self-select out.

          2. Allison (ALSO NOT AAM)*

            Not Jen RO, but chiming in anyway – no, they’re not wrong. They’re not discriminating against members of any protected classes, for one thing. And if they’re promoting veganism, it makes sense for them to want public-facing roles to live that lifestyle. People love to “expose” flaws in organizations like PETA, what would happen if one of their well-known spokespeople was caught eating a cheeseburger?

            1. De Minimis*

              I agree, I think it would be hard to get support if your fundraisers and spokespeople didn’t even practice what they were advocating.

              But someone in the back office….that shouldn’t matter, and it sounds like it doesn’t.

              Not as bad as some of the religious colleges that all kinds of lifestyle/religious requirements for all employees…

                1. De Minimis*

                  I knew of one that didn’t require a specific type of church membership, but it was obvious they really wanted people to be of an Evangelical background. One of the staff I think was Episcopal or something and she said she just said Yes to some of the questions even though she didn’t really know what they were asking about since it wasn’t part of her church’s theology. I know some are also really strict about people’s use of alcohol and other activities.

      2. HarperC*

        I agree with you. I would have a problem with this. Your religion should only impact YOU in the workplace, not anyone else.

        1. fposte*

          As I hinted at upthread, I think that’s blind to the way dominant religions have shaped so many business practices; it ends up meaning minority religions should be neither seen nor heard.

          1. Zillah*

            Agreed. By the same logic, people should be arguing strenuously against having Christmas off.

        2. Rebecca Too*

          I think I’d also have a problem with this, but in a minor way. I would feel irritated that in my work, I had to follow the rules of someone else’s religion. Maybe it is just a general no religion in the workplace feeling, unless you are working for a religious group.

        3. bearing*

          I hope that my religion impacts everyone who meets me, in the sense that I remember to be guided by its principles in all my encounters.

          This idea that everyone should keep their personal philosophies and lifestyles to themselves all the time, lest it “impact” other people, strikes me as illiberal and incurious.

    4. KC*

      This is why I love the grumpy atheists in my life. In general, they respect others’ beliefs, as long as those others aren’t pushing their beliefs on anyone else. That seems to be the case here. #NotSoGrumpyAgnostic

    5. AVP*

      Grumpy atheists unite! I wouldn’t mind this either and tend to think it would be fun to play along with someone else’s rules for a few days.

      For Jen in RO, I think it might be a cultural difference – religion is present in plenty of US workplaces in a way that it isn’t elsewhere. I noticed above that the OP is in Texas – I’m sure the Christian equivalent of this (if there is one) wouldn’t flutter an eyelid there.

      1. De Minimis*

        There is a lot of praying before employee meals here [like birthday meals, retirement parties, etc.] and it bugs me even as someone of the predominant faith. I feel like it’s really exclusionary and assumes that everyone believes the same way. Some of the prayers are also way beyond just “bless this food” too…

        1. Office Mercenary*

          My uncle worked at a factory whose management changed and then every single shift began with a mandatory group prayer. He got out of there as fast as he could.

        2. Jen RO*

          Do you work in a secular office or one with a religious affiliation? If it’s secular… wow.

          1. De Minimis*

            It’s actually worse than you think, we’re a Federal Government workplace.

            There’s a grey area though that would probably make it difficult if someone wanted to make an issue of it [the facility is located on tribal land so that makes things very complicated from a legal standpoint.]

    6. Mike C.*

      Sorry, I’m just tired of people forcing their belief systems down my throat where it isn’t appropriate. That doesn’t make me a bad, immoral or unreasonable person. The idea that I should just “go along to get along” is something I’ve had to do my entire life, and I’m getting tired of always having to bend over backwards for everyone else because belonging to faith means that your beliefs are more important then those of someone who does not.

      1. AVP*

        Well, you’re welcome to come work at my company where my boss has no family/friends/religion, to the point where he forgot about 4th of July this year and got enraged when no one showed up for work that day. Christmas and Thanksgiving are really fun around here! :)

        1. Cat*

          Dude, it’s not an either/or. You can have a lot of great stuff going on in your life or nothing at all and not feel the need to impose that on your employees either way. In fact, it is literally the only way to run a business and be a decent human being.

          1. AVP*

            Heh, no one promised anything about him being a decent human being. But his explanation for forgetting about a major national holiday and getting pissy about it was, “Well you know I’m bad at this family stuff and don’t celebrate holidays so I don’t know about them!” Except that this one, um, has the date in it’s name so it should really be pretty apparent when it falls.

        2. Chuchundra*

          If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

      2. JB*

        But we all have to “go along to get along.” For example, maybe you swear like a sailor in your personal life, but you don’t do so in front of your boss because you don’t have that kind of workplace. Maybe you like to eat really stinky food, but your office has a no stinky food policy. We all have to make accommodations.

        This isn’t saying “you can only eat KFP food during this time.” It’s saying “don’t keep non-KFP food in the refrigerator.” This is such a minor inconvenience. This isn’t like putting up with listening to a Christian radio station all day. This is not forcing anybody’s belief systems down your throat.

        1. Simonthegrey*

          Side note: I went to a dentist for a while who was Christian. By that I mean evangelical, advertised in a directory of Christian Businesses, and required Christian music on the overhead speakers. I’m Catholic, and I happen to like some contemporary Christian music, but I didn’t particularly like to be preached to in the office. I was just there to get my teeth cleaned. It felt inappropriate somehow. Would just playing classical music have killed them? But I’m sure it was a savvy business decision and that other people would take their business there just BECAUSE it was Christian.

          1. De Minimis*

            My most recent dentist was like that….the hygienist kept pestering me about what church I attended, and how I really should try her church. And yeah, they had the Christian station playing over the speakers.

            Had no idea they were like that until I went in. But I’ll probably keep going there because they’re nearby.

          2. KerryOwl*

            Oh man, I used to work with a Christian who listened to Christian pop music all day. Not Christian rock, Christian pop. It was terrible. I wasn’t thrilled about all the “glory glory” lyrics either, but the music itself was so, so awful. Double whammy.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Just an aside here, many Christian songs do not mesh with Catholic doctrine. Catholics pick up on that very fast, but non-Catholics seem to not even notice.
            It’s interesting to watch.

            1. De Minimis*

              Yeah, from what I can tell most of the contemporary Christian music is produced from an evangelical perspective.

    7. Anon*

      I agree. I would mentally translate it to “don’t use the kitchen these days” and move on.

      Honestly, I live in the Bible Belt. I’ve dealt with my share of people being pushy and imposing about religion. Maybe I have built up a tolerance to it, because this wouldn’t bother me.

  10. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

    It’s interesting to me (from NJ, grew up in an area dominated by Catholics and Jews–did not grasp Protestants were like a thing until high school/college) that no one did some research that these are pretty basic Passover practices, and it’s a special time–and said, “Hey, let’s bring in outside coffee for this week. Let’s take turns bringing kosher stuff for snacks and lunch (cut up fruit, veggies, etc.) It’s a small company; it’s just a week, it’s not worth the fuss.”

    At least you don’t have to clean the office in the weeks before and hunt for the feather.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I’m surprised too that the boss wasn’t clearer about what he was doing and why. We keep kosher for Passover, so I know it’s not exactly fun to have to observe those rules, but given the OP’s sensitive response upthread, I wonder how much of this could have been avoided by the boss taking a few minutes to explain the rules and make a few recommendations for those who haven’t spent their lives innovating new matzoh-based meals. If I thought someone was tossing my food and I had no idea why, I’d be pretty uncharitable about it too!

    2. NYCRedhead*

      Did you grow up in Fair Lawn? I did and this sounds like my understanding of religion growing up. I am still fuzzy on the Protestant denominations!

      1. Laufey*

        Passaic County, over here, reporting for duty. And then I moved to the deep south, where both Catholics and Jews were the things that weren’t really understood by the majority….

      2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        Ha, no–Red Bank area in Monmouth County. I was more familiar with Muslims than Methodists growing up.

    3. Zed*

      I agree, Kerry. I was reading this thinking, “Yeah, and?” In the PA/NJ/NY area, at least, I’d expect this to be common knowledge. But, then again, I grew up in a neighborhood with multiple synagogues, several kosher businesses, and an eruv…

        1. Mints*

          I was going to say I’ve never had a savory pie (thinking Shepard), but pizza, duh! Yes!
          It has to specifically be Chicago style pizza pie, though, not flat crust.
          I’m in

          1. Elysian*

            There’s a food truck near my office that specialized in savory pies. I always want to go, but Alas! The line is so long!

          2. Simonthegrey*

            I had an awesome turkey and cranberry pie years ago when I was studying in England. The memory still keeps me happy.

    1. BRR*

      I wanted to post that but thought it might be too off topic. I’d also be curious to work in your office which only allows green food (it’s like a series of parallel universes where the only difference is what’s allowed in the fridge). I also thought that even though only pies were allowed that doesn’t mean they’re up for grabs.

    2. Dani X*

      I was going to post that I want to work for the company that only allows pies in the kitchen. Can we get a petition to allow cakes too?

      1. De Minimis*

        We had a “cake buffet” at work not long ago, this lady was retiring who was known for making cakes, so everyone in her department made cakes for her.

          1. Joline*

            Although that would be delicious I have to rep for my Schwarzwald.

            THough I suppose we could just have both!

    3. H. Rawr*

      I’m in.

      My book club actually has a”Pie Night” coming up when instead of doing a regular potluck dinner, we do an entire dinner of pies. At last count we had a shepherd’s pie, a pot pie, fruit pies, and a peanut butter pie. It’s mostly heaven.

          1. Iain Clarke*

            Then it’s a Cottage Pie. Shepherd’s Pie is lamb (or I suppose mutton).

            Both are rather yummy though. One thing I miss about Britain (I’m in Sweden) is proper pies.


    4. Windchime*

      I’ll put you in touch with my soon-to-be daughter-in-law. She’s not a cake girl, so she has ordered pies for her wedding reception. 15 delicious, assorted pies.

    5. Kacie*

      My friend worked in the Panera home office for a while. The break room was all pastries, all the time!

  11. Allison*

    Do lunches really need to be refrigerated? I mean, putting them in the fridge may be ideal, but there have been many times in my life where I’ve packed a lunch (yes, with meat), kept it in an insulated bag (or heck, just a plastic bag), and ate the lunch a few hours later. I brought lunch to school every day growing up, and I don’t ever remember keeping my lunch in a fridge, but I don’t recall ever getting food poisoning either. It’s not like you’re being forced to keep sushi in the sun all day.

    And while going out to lunch may not be an option each day, what about going to lunch when you can, and/or maybe ordering takeout a few times? That might help offset the inconvenience.

    Sometimes we have to accommodate other people, even when it’s not convenient. It’s part of living in a world full of other humans.

    1. De (Germany)*

      Most stuff is fine outside a fridge for a lot longer than many people think. Even milk is usually fine for a day.

    2. In progress*

      Yes! I mean, everyone packed a lunch for school for years without using a refrigerator, right?

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Yes, and as a result I can’t eat yogurt straight out of the fridge (I developed a yogurt aversion as an adult in any case, but after years of eating yogurt that has softened from sitting in my lunch bag for four hours, the texture of cold yogurt is extra ugggghhh).

        1. Allison*

          Blech, I hate yogurt. I ate it semi-willingly as a kid so I could get enough calcium, but the texture . . . yuck. I don’t understand the yogurt craze, why are so many people obsessed with it??

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            I like most regular yogurt (Yoplait Red Raspberry being my favorite) but I just don’t understand how anyone can eat Greek yogurt. It tastes like feet.

      2. tt*

        Not all. I got (free) lunch at school. When I first started working and bringing lunch, I had to ask people for best practices on what to bring and how to pack it.

    3. anon*

      I was travelling with an acquaintance and we were staying in a terrible motel, with no ice and no refrigerator. He had some yogurt he left out overnight and I asked him if was worried it would spoil.

      His response: “Dude, yogurt is already spoiled.”

  12. Frustrated Job Seeker*

    “Maxwell House coffee hired the Joseph Jacobs advertising firm in the 1930s to market to a Jewish demographic.[11] The agency hired a rabbi to research coffee, resulting in a determination that the coffee bean is more like a berry than a bean, thus making it kosher for Passover.”

    So, I don’t know what the fuss is about coffee – they make coffee that is kosher for Passover, and he could permit that on the premises (or simply serve kosher coffee year-round as standard)

    Signed, an Jewish atheist that studies a lot of culinary history.

    1. Proofin' Amy*

      Which explains why Maxwell House published its own Haggadah in the seventies to promote the brand. Nothing is more special than the page depicting the plagues, showing the dead cow on its back. My sister and I used to giggle at it during the seder every year.

    2. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

      Interesting! So if I source some KFP coffee, would the coffee maker be okay to use as well or would I have to buy a new one too?

      1. fposte*

        From my internet huntings, the coffeemaker is out even if you have KFP coffee–it’s too likely to have had contact with flavored coffee or other non-kosher stuff during the year and can’t be cleaned properly. A new one might be okay. I also saw a suggestion that you can bring in an electric kettle and use instant KFP coffee–but you have to get the water from the tap, not from the coffeemaker.

        I am also delighted to report that there is apparently an internet kosher expert at the Orthodox Union who is dubbed the “Webbe Rebbe.”

  13. soitgoes*

    My boss got around the rule by buying a second mini-fridge. Passover rules really do present hardships to most people in typical workplaces, since sandwich bread is forbidden.

    By the way, if there’s a conflict where a medical condition is concerned, Jewish law requires that the medical need be prioritized.

  14. B*

    Just to clarify as well. He is not “hiding” the non-passover food. He has most likely “sold” the chametz to a non-jewish person who will then “sell” it back to him which is why he is placing it all together in one area. I have seen other businesses donate those items or throw them out instead of selling them.

    There are a lot of foods you could bring in if the whole office is passover only, you just need to look for items marked for passover. Most supermarkets have a full aisle of this and the same for the dairy section. Now if you can bring in non-passover items then like pp’s said a lunch cooler with ice packs is your best friend.

    1. Elsajeni*

      Well, it sounds like it’s other people’s food that they’ve brought in that he’s “hiding,” actually, so I don’t think the “selling”-it-to-someone-else explanation really applies — it’s more like he’s distributing it back to its owners and saying “Please store this on your own property until the end of Passover,” except that he’s simultaneously saying, “… and this cabinet is temporarily your property, so I’ll just move it all in there.”

      1. B*

        It does in the context of Passover. By “selling it” he is allowed to keep it altogether in the area.

        However, Passover happens every year. Every calendar lists it or just google it. If this placing of items that people cannot use for 2-4 days creates such a hardship they should take these items to their desk or home.

  15. The Maple Teacup*

    Gosh. This is darn interesting. I’d love to work at that place for the cultural experience.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Right? I have an acquaintance who worked for a number of years at a Jewish nursing home, and I was always fascinated by her stories of the elaborate rituals and procedures surrounding the major Jewish holidays.

    2. asdfasf af*

      Yeah. This is not that bad, or maybe not even bad at all.

      The OP’s boss should consider buying lunch for the whole staff those two days if that is allowed.

    3. Chinook*

      AAM, I just want to thank you for column. The discussion board shows a great way that discussions about religion could be done in the workplace. Everyone here is being so polite and curious.

      Congratulations – I think you just accomplished the impossible!

  16. JimG*

    Just look at this as a time to experience a different type of food. New experiences often bring personal growth, so embrace the change!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I know; I was thinking I’d like to try some of it and understand the rituals a little better myself. That’s what tolerance is all about, really–getting along, but also learning.

  17. Lora*

    I find it slightly weird that he actually hides your food. Can he not just send a notice like every secular manager on earth: “Kitchen will be cleaned out at 1pm Friday. Any food left in there will be thrown away. Please come get your stuff.”

    Otherwise, cooler with ice packs.

    If he was feeling extra-generous, maybe he could provide kosher snacks for people? A few companies I’ve worked for with a high percentage of [fill in the blank] nationals have had parties for Chinese New Year, Diwali, Eid, etc. Everyone goes to these things and eats the food and learns about the culture, makes new friends, bitches about work. It’s nice. I’d be overjoyed to come to work and find brisket, salad, potatoes and flourless chocolate cake for lunch!

    Mmmmm brisket. Now I want BBQ…

    1. Melissa*

      He probably “hides” it for chemetz, when all the food is placed together and ‘sold’ legally to a non-Jewish person so that the Jewish person does not own it during Passover. Jewish people aren’t allowed to possess non-kosher-for-Passover foods during Passover, but there’s a loophole that allows them to temporarily sell it while still keeping it on their property (I guess in some branches. Seems like it others it’d need to be moved elsewhere).

  18. Rachel*

    The comments here cover things pretty well, but I just want to note that since OP has said his/her boss closes the office for Yom Tov (the days of the holiday when one does not work) it is literally impossible for this to be more than four days per year. Passover is eight days, but the first two and last two are Yom Tov. Many years, it will be only three working days, and some years only two.

    I would also add that if those days of Yom Tov are paid days off that you aren’t required to use vacation for – which is how most Jewish organizations handle it for all their employees, but I don’t know about a Jewish-owned business – then this seems like a pretty fair trade. At least two and up to four days off for the holiday that you don’t observe, and in exchange you deal with a few dietary restrictions at the office for two to four days?

  19. Michelle*

    Kosher means not mixing meat & dairy. It means if you’re having meat, you have meat that was slaughtered in a certain way. So…bring a non-meat pasta dish that can be heated up. Big whoop. Seriously people, we’re talking about one meal a day for a max of a five day work week. So what if he “hid” the non-kosher/passover food? He didn’t throw it out, he just put it away, and it can be used a few days later. Try living in a country with no religious freedom at all. Or how about this – no food at all. The choices we have to eat in this country are mind boggling…and folks are complaining about a few days of a different way of doing something. Seriously?

    1. fposte*

      I agree with your general sentiment, but most pasta dishes wouldn’t be kosher for Passover and couldn’t be brought into the kitchen to be heated up.

    2. Michelle*

      And by the way – I just saw the OP’s response about not knowing…so I feel a little bad now about my comment! But seriously, we have such wonderful freedom and choices in the US. Sometimes we take things too far.

      1. Elysian*

        I agree with the premise of being grateful for the amazing things our country has. But I try to remember what my (extremely wise and amazing) guidance counselor once told me – that just because there are people in other places starving without food, doesn’t make my toothache hurt me any less. Ie. – Feelings are feelings, and they’re valid. Just because there’s worse crap going on, doesn’t change your situation. It’s perspective, but it doesn’t make it go away.

    3. De Minimis*

      When I look back on the various places I’ve worked, I’d say almost all of them did something at one point regarding lunch or shared kitchens/break areas that inconvenienced me at least as much as this situation. At least here you can plan around it.

    4. Anonymous*

      “kosher” is pretty close to what you described. “Kosher for Passover ” is a different beast – it means no leavened food or anything made from grain.

  20. Who are you?*

    This has been one of the more enjoyable question/comments that I’ve read in a long while. I find other religions rules, cultural traditions, and regional celebrations very interesting and frankly I think I’ll be doing some reading this evening about the whys and hows of what it means to be kosher. I have NO idea, though I know some Jewish people require two kitchens in order to keep kosher.
    I’m a Catholic and the only thing that pertains to food for me is not eating meat on Friday, especially during lent!

    1. Melissa*

      Me too! I learned a lot and I really enjoyed this thread. I also love how everyone stayed very civil, even when they disagreed.

  21. Beth*

    It’s annoying that he’s moving your food, but that’s more of an communication issue than anything else.

  22. TotesMaGoats*

    I miss my last job because we were a formerly Catholic college but in a high density Jewish area. We got off Passover and Easter (sometimes Thursday and Friday and then changed to Friday and Monday). Christmas and Yom Kippur and rosh hashanah. It was wonderful.

    1. Melissa*

      When I was a kid growing up in New York, I was in a very heavily Jewish school district and we got all of the Jewish High Holidays off. Winter Break always happened early enough that we’d be out in time for Hanukkah too. It was great – I felt culturally enriched because I always knew when Rosh Hashanah was and what it was, but also, free day off!

      And I had the BEST elementary school teacher; she was Jewish and really big on cultural appreciation so every year (I had her for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades – it was a Montessori-type school) we celebrated Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Yule. I learned to play dreidel, learned the Hebrew alphabet (I caught myself singing the song the other day lmao) and that’s when I first got hooked on potato latkes. Looking back it was super funny/ironic because I’m African American but first learned about all the Kwanzaa traditions and practices from my white Jewish elementary school teacher lol. The Yule celebration was actually a big school-wide one and we burned the Yule log together and sang songs.

      I loved that school! It was amazing in other ways and really formative for me.

  23. Just Visiting*

    I’m a bristly agnostic who brown bags every single day and I wouldn’t have any problem with this at all. He’s not trying to convert you, which is more than I can say for a lot of Christians in the workplace. You can keep your food in your car/purse and eat outside, you can buy special food for those two days (which isn’t likely to be THAT much more expensive than what you’d normally pack), or you can just walk or drive to Wendy’s. Again, I’m a diehard brown-bagger but spending a few bucks a day on lunch for one week (really two days)… not a big deal. Wouldn’t most readymade vegan meals without leavened bread also be kosher (though maybe not KfP)?

    Although I also think it would be kinda cool if the boss paid for a Kosher-for-Passover buffet for the whole office for one day. Everything would be safe, employees get a free meal, and the OP and others can learn a little about the culture.

    1. just a gentile*

      “He’s not trying to convert you, which is more than I can say for a lot of Christians in the workplace. ”

      “Although I also think it would be kinda cool if the boss paid for a Kosher-for-Passover buffet for the whole office for one day. ”
      And this.

  24. BadPlanning*

    The explanation about making your business kosher is really interesting.

    I can see why the OP wrote in to ask the question. Not to complain about not putting their food in the fridge for a couple days — but without background information on the boss’ intentions, you might start to worry that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe after kosher Passover, the boss will want to be kosher the rest of the year. Maybe then the boss will want push Thing A, Thing B and then inviting people to services, etc. After all, this is what some people do, keep pushing until people protest — religious or otherwise.

    1. Rachel*

      Conveniently, that level of pushing will never happen with a Jewish business owner.

      No, really, never. It is against Jewish law to proselytize in any way. As a religious group, we really don’t care what religion you practice at all, and we will not push ours, because we don’t think ours is the ONLY right one. Maybe this business owner might one day decide that he or she wants the kitchen to be kosher, but wanting the kitchen to be kosher would not preclude people from bringing their ham sandwiches, because except during Passover, cold food isn’t going to disrupt the kosher-status of a kitchen.

      (note: Jews for Jesus? Are just Christians who keep kosher. That’s why they evangelize)

      1. Who are you?*

        Growing up I always thought there were two religions: catholic and jewish. I always figured you were born into a religion and that’s what you were. My jewish friends obviously couldn’t be catholic because they were born jewish and there wasn’t anyway for me to be anything other than catholic. I was in high school before I realized that there were so many levels of Christianity and so many other religions out there all vying to be the “right” one. I miss that innocence I had about my faith back then. For the record, not every Christian wants people to convert. It’s not like we get referral bonuses. ;)

        1. De Minimis*

          I had the opposite experience!
          I grew up in the Bible belt and you generally only had different flavors of Protestantism, and even the Mainline churches like Episcopal and Presbyterian were pretty rare, usually just in larger cities. You usually had to go to one of the major cities to find a Catholic church or especially a synagogue.

        2. Kay*

          I’m curious where you’re from because I had the EXACT same thing of thinking that almost everyone in the US was Jewish or Catholic, because where I lived (suburbs of St. Louis) that was the case.

        3. Melissa*

          I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness…yeah. I cringe now thinking about how I was pressured to pester everyone around me, constantly, to convert. They really do operate on the notion that you get a referral bonus with God.

          But funny, when I was growing up I only knew Protestants and Jewish people. Then I moved to the Bible Belt South and only knew other Protestants, mostly Baptists with a few Presbyterians. I don’t think I met a Catholic person until I had a Catholic summer roommate in college.

      2. Evan (in the USA)*

        It’s actually against Jewish law? I’m surprised; I thought it was just not required. How did they come to that conclusion? And do you know how they reconcile that with the prophet Jonah’s preaching to the (gentile) Ninevites?

        1. Rachel*

          In the Biblical story of Jonah, the city of Nineveh is so sinful that it is about to be destroyed, like Sodom and Gommorah. Jonah isn’t proselytizing Judaism to the people of Nineveh; he’s trying to convince them to stop sinning so that Gd won’t destroy them. Usually in these stories, that kind of sinning means lots of rape and murder, even ritualized rape and gang rape. The Ninevites don’t actually become Jewish – they make sacrifices to a monotheistic Gd, but that’s not Judaism.

          And yes. It’s 100% against Jewish law to evangelize. In fact, we discourage conversion. Potential converts are supposed to be turned away the first two times they approach a given rabbi about converting.

          1. Beancounter in Texas (OP)*

            That is my experience in this office. We discuss religion a lot in a respectful manner – certainly no proselytizing – and it makes for a nice learning opportunity, if you have an open mind.

          2. Evan (in the USA)*

            Interesting; I hadn’t made the distinction between “stop sinning and start being monotheists” and “become Jews.” It’s probably because “stop sinning” and “become Christian” are conflated in the type of Christianity I follow. But you’re right; it’s never said anywhere that Jonah preached or was asked to preach anything more.

          3. Jenna*

            Converting to Judaism is a big deal and a process. It takes time and classes. There may be more than one way to do it, but, the way that I know of takes effort.
            I dated a Jewish boy once upon a time.

            1. Felicia*

              It generally takes a year and sooo much studying. Its a hard process which is why Jews dont encourage it

            2. Karyn*

              I converted four years ago today, after three years of studying/living a Jewish life. I did it for myself, not for marriage, and I always say this to people: I didn’t choose Judaism – Judaism chose me. :)

          4. Iain Clarke*

            Seeing as you typed Gd twice, I presume it’s not a typo. I’m genuinely puzzled why. He’s not Vldemort, or Beetlejuice…

            Is this a thing from a particular flavour of Christianity, or other religion?

            1. Melissa*

              I’m not Jewish, so this is only what I’ve read/learned from Jewish friends, but many observant Jewish people don’t type out or write the name of God. AFAIK it is because they are commanded not to erase or deface the name of God, but when you write it down somewhere there’s always the chance that it’ll become erased or defaced, so many just don’t take chances. I’ve seen people omit the middle O and I’ve also seen people write it G-d.

        2. De Minimis*

          I had thought there was some level of proselytizing between different sects of Judaism [like a more Orthodox group trying to encourage others to join them and be more observant], but that’s just from a casual reading.

          1. tesyaa*

            Sure, most if not all Orthodox Jewish groups approve of trying to recruit nonobservant Jews to full Orthodox observance (even if they don’t actively do so themselves).

          2. GreatLakesGal*

            Yes, there are a few sects within Judaism that would like to engage less-religious Jews in a stricter faith but that’s the exception, not the rule.

      3. Natalie*

        I suspect that someone who has not known any/many Jewish people, but has known a lot of people of heavily proselytizing faiths, wouldn’t assume this though. For example, I have a vague teenager memory of an evangelical acquaintance defending their obnoxious behavior by saying “all religions proselytize!” He probably believed it, too.

        1. Melissa*

          Funnily enough, the *only* religious group I have come across that actively proselytizes is Protestant Christians. I have friends from many religious backgrounds and I have never had a Catholic, a Jew, a Hindu, a Sikh, or a Muslim ask me to visit their place of worship or try to get me to read their holy text(s). I did have a Buddhist invite me to visit her temple, but that’s because I explicitly expressed interest and we had a long conversation about religion in which I indicated I was curious. Even then, after I visited twice and decided not to return (out of pure laziness), she never pressured me to come again.

          But I have had several Christian friends insistently ask me to visit their churches or try to come up with different ways to get me to go, even when I have made it clear that I have no interest – or even, at one period of time, when I was still an observant Christian and was actively going to church. I have one pair of friends who just will not quit inviting us to go to church when they want to hang out.

          Having been raised Christian in an evangelical group, I get it – it’s a central tenet of Christian faith to go out and preach the word to the nations. The more well-intentioned of them really believe they are saving your immortal soul by convincing you to accept Christianity.

          But saying that ‘all religions proselytize’ is really ironic because that strikes me as something someone would only say if they had literally never met anyone from any other religion, and just assumed that everyone did it because their own religion does it.

  25. Student*

    Try asking the boss about acceptable Passover lunches. There’s plenty of stuff you can eat, just not the standard American meat-and-cheese sandwich lunch. You could also probably find decent online guidance if your boss doesn’t give you any useful information.

    1. Who are you?*

      perhaps he’d be willing to bring in a Passover meal that he’d like to share? That way he knew that it was prepared according to the passover rules but nobody had to go hungry? And everyone gets to try something new?

      1. Colette*

        I don’t think that feeding the employees is the boss’s responsibility – and frankly, if I were in the middle of preparing for a holiday, that last thing I’d want to do is be responsible for bringing in food for the office.

  26. Kate*

    I don’t think this is such a big deal. What if the kitchen was being renovated and was out of commission for a while? If it’s only a two day inconvenience, it seems pretty easy to work around… A lot easier than a full kitchen renovation, for instance.

    And if people have non-Kosher foods in the kitchen, why don’t they just remove them before Passover so they don’t have to deal with their things being hidden in a drawer somewhere?

  27. Steve G*

    I like this post and the answer.

    I do think the boss could go the extra step and at least once buy a kosher lunch for everyone if possible (if you are in NYC or another city with kosher restaurant). I love the few times per year when I lunch with Hasidic business partners…their food is always so good and fresh….of course that is easy to do in NYC though..

  28. Rose*

    Allison, it seems like there is some disagreement! Can you clarify: could OP and co bring a regular meal to work these days and not keep it in the kitchen, or no?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The OP elaborated above: “We don’t have to eat kosher-for-Passover meals; we just can’t put our non-kosher-for-Passover food in the refrigerator or the break room (until it’s time to eat because we’re forbidden to eat at our desks).”

      1. De Minimis*

        So they can eat the non-kosher food in the break room?

        It sounds like it’s even less inconvenient than I thought, if so…

    1. Anon*

      Yeah. It looks like I agree with Alison on this issue, but I so do not want arguments about it to happen here!

    2. Lisa*

      I agree about the last line. It’s really bothersome that AAM would promote the lie that Hobby Lobby won’t pay for birth control. It’s OK for the boss to decide what’s in the refrigerator, but not OK that Hobby Lobby objects to PAYING FOR abortifacient drugs and devices?

        1. Kelly L.*

          Indeed. This. The big difference between the two situations is that one is about what employees can do at work, and the other is about what employees can do on their own time with their own compensation. Beyond that, Alison has specifically asked us not to get into discussion about types of BC, etc.

    3. WorkingAsDesigned*

      I agree. I’m proud to be a Roman Catholic, and the last line said to me that my faith isn’t accepted here.

      I recognize that not all AAM commentors have my same faith, nor my same stance on social issues, but have appreciated that Alison has shown respect for beliefs other than her own in other posts.

      For the first time in months, I closed the open AAM tab on my browser. Considering that I refresh the tab multiple times in a day, that says a lot.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          As I mentioned up thread, I’m not RC but I also felt that last line of the response was a unnecessary potshot.

  29. Rachel*

    I’ve seen some folks grumbling about the “hardship” of the boss telling his employees they need to accommodate his religious needs for two to four workdays per year. I just want to point something out to those folks: observant Jews have a pretty hard time getting accommodations for our needs in many workplaces. I’ve been in plenty of settings that would tell us they were buying lunch for a meeting and then ordered nothing that I can eat, even if I remind them in advance of my dietary restrictions. I’m not even that strict about keeping kosher – if they ordered vegetarian food, I’d be fine. Judaism has 13 days each calendar year when I’m not supposed to work, and while some of those will fall on weekends, many won’t. I choose between taking all my religious holidays off work, and being able to take any vacation time that I’m not spending in synagogue, which is really not a vacation. During winter, my Sabbath, which starts on Friday at sundown, starts before the workweek ends, but I can’t really leave work yet. Weekend work events are always on Saturday, my Sabbath, not Sunday, even though Christian tradition doesn’t prohibit work on the Sabbath in the same way that Judaism does.

    Meanwhile, I have never worked in an office that was open on Christmas or Easter Sunday. I’ve seen people’s need for meat-free meals during Lent accommodated when my need for meat-free meals year-round was not. I’ve been questioned, repeatedly, about why I need to take a given day off and asked if I can’t just “move” my religious holiday, as though it doesn’t follow a calendar. I’ve had major events scheduled in ways that overlap with my major religious holidays, and people just say “oops” when it’s pointed out that the holiday was important enough to be on the official calendar, but I’ve never seen major events scheduled on even Easter Monday because “people might still be away.”

    The boss here is asking for his/her employees to not use the kitchen in a way that disrupts his/her religious practice for two to four workdays per year. That’s not actually a big deal.

    1. B*

      This this and this! I find it silly when people use the argument it is a major inconvenience for 2 days to not use a refrigerator. How about the inconvenience when I need to use my vacation days for holidays but everyone else gets off for Christmas and sometimes Christmas Eve, Good Friday, etc. Never hear a peep about that do we…

    2. MK*

      A lot of what you mention is discrimination/people being jerks and I am sorry you had to deal with it. But some things are a matter of practicality and/or custom.

      1. Zillah*

        But even if we’re going to go with that, I think that it’s important to be aware of that “practicality/custom” and cut people a little slack when, once in awhile, you have to accommodate them in small ways… because they’re accommodating the majority in a lot of other ways.

      2. Melissa*

        Many of these things are a matter of practicality or custom only because Christians have grown to be the dominant religious group in the United States. But if that was not the case – and let’s say, the U.S. was dominantly Jewish instead of Christian – Christians might find themselves told that it’s a “matter of practicality/custom” that they can’t get paid time off work to go to church on Sunday mornings, or that they have to come in to work on Christmas, or that their meatless Fridays for Lent have been forgotten because nobody else in the office celebrates that.

        1. LD*

          Already happening. Many retail, health care, security, entertainment, sports, and other fields have jobs that require working on days and times that would conflict with religious observances for almost any practice where someone wants to participate regularly. I am aware of people being told that an accommodation to allow them to attend church on Sunday morning was not an option. This site has had discussions about time-off that included people sharing their practices of alternating holidays or working on holidays to allow others the time off they wanted to participate in religious and family events at different holidays, including Christmas. It’s not a new thing for Christians to be expected to work on Christmas.

    3. DMouse77*

      I was basically going to write exactly this, so thank you for posting it. Rachel’s comment is the other side of this issue – those of us who keep kosher experience this kind of inconvenience on a daily basis. My office is very into food – potlucks, people bringing in donuts, company parties – and the only time there is anything I can eat is if I bring it myself. Even just socializing over lunch – if people are going out to eat, I’m either not invited because they know I can’t eat anything, or I come along and just order a soda while they are all eating lunch. And I know it’s a similar experience if someone has food allergies (or both – like my friend who keeps kosher and has a gluten allergy.)

      1. Zillah*

        Yep. Story of my life. I have so many food restrictions that I generally eat before going to any social events, because I know that I might not find anything I can eat there. When I shop, I have to read labels carefully to make sure that they don’t have one of the things I can’t eat (a list which includes gluten and garlic, so fun times, there). If I forget my lunch one day, I generally go hungry, because it’s better than getting sick.

        Basically? There are a lot of places that are barred to me for health reasons because I’m allergic to everything. Most people don’t have to deal with that much at all, so I don’t understand why there’s so much fuss when once in awhile, they have to accommodate other people. Yes, I understand that this is a religious thing, so principle! but honestly, as an agnostic, this just doesn’t even register for me as a thing to worry about. It’s four days, it’s minimally intrusive, so take this as a little insight into the lives of people who do have to worry about this stuff all the time.

  30. Alexa*

    First, as others have said, this inconvenience seems really minor relative to a host of other inconveniences associated with working for someone else (e.g., the PTO issues discussed earlier in the week). This makes me feel like there is another issue underlying the OP’s complains. Quite frankly, “In the meantime, I just warn any potential new hire what the situation is at Passover and I take vacation.” <- this sounds like a particularly strong reaction to what can be considered to be a reasonable accommodation for someone else's faith.

    Is it just that the manager didn't fully discuss and explain why these accommodations were necessary? (I don't think he's obligated to but when imposing on people it seems like a good practice).

    People seem to be getting upset because of the religious and power dynamics at play. Would the OP object as strongly of the boss instituted a "meatless monday" policy? If so, this may be a bias against religious people.

    Likewise, if this was a co-worker who was asking for an accommodation, would that be something you consider? Is it just grating because it feels like it's been imposed top-down?

      1. fposte*

        I know somebody on the open thread was talking about a prospective employer that had a meatless day or two each week for, I think, healthy living reasons.

        1. MaryMary*

          I tried to adopt meatless Mondays in my personal life, and figured out that I basically replaced meat with cheese. It was not any healthier in the long run, alas.

      2. Jillociraptor*

        My college had “trayless Tuesdays” (to cut down on food waste from piling your tray with food) and people basically lost all semblance of sense. Like, apoplexy, complete chaos. Messing with people’s food, boy, I don’t know.

        Because food is both a critical physical need and a critical cultural need, it’s not really surprising that we have pretty negative reactions to other people trying to control our food decisions. It’s good to be critical of those responses for sure, but not surprising that we have them.

        1. Elysian*

          Did we go to the same college? PA, surrounded by cows? I graduated just a year before they instituted trayless Tuesday and heard crap about it from everyone I was still friends with in school.

            1. Broke Philosopher*

              CT, surrounded by, uh, sadness. Apparently lots of colleges are enamored of alliteration? and chaos?

  31. Betsy*

    For the people who don’t like this: if he just said, “We’re closing the kitchen completely during Passover”, would that bother you, too? Because my bosses will often do things like that for all kinds of reasons, and it wouldn’t at all bug me. My initial reaction to “bring in kosher food” was to bristle, but I feel like it’s an alternative to shutting down the kitchen completely, which allows for some use, though not as much as usual.

    1. Jen RO*

      For my part, I would be just as bothered. I don’t even *like* eating in the office kitchen, but it’s the principle of the thing, imposing a personal preference/obligation onto other people.

    2. Cat*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be okay with that either. Closing down the kitchen for operational reasons is one thing. Doing it because of your religious views goes against everything I believe about how businesses should operate in secular countries. If it was a specifically religious business, I’d feel differently. (Much like I am not generally okay with companies deciding vegetarian food only, but if it’s an animal advocacy organization, fine.)

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        But you do realize that for many of us, our religion is the most important part of who we are, and even more important than work?

        1. Cat*

          Okay, fine. And for me, not imposing religious (and many other philosophical beliefs that aren’t strictly religious) on people over whom you have power (i.e., employees) is an important part of who I am, even more important than work. I think it is wrong for someone to do on basically every level. I believe people have freedom to practice their religion that is near absolute, but one of the reasons I say “near” is because that freedom should stop when it comes to imposing it on people like their employees over whom they have power.

          This sets up an intractable clash of principles between me and the OP’s boss, but that doesn’t mean I have to yield to OP’s boss’s view. I think it’s morally and ethically wrong.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But … how is he imposing anything on them? He’s saying hey, this kitchen that I normally am happy to provide to you is off-limits for a few days, but you can eat in tons of other places.

            1. Cat*

              I don’t work at the office, but at my office it would be a lot closer to: “hey, this kitchen that we normally provide (like a normal office, that basically everyone provides) is off-limits for a few days unless you’re bringing highly specific foods that you probably don’t fully understand. You can’t heat up foods, or refrigerate them, and you have to take out the bagels and TJ’s dinners you have in the freezer, so probably eating out is your best bet. Make sure you don’t have leftovers you were planning to eat this week.”

              Is it the end of the world? Of course not. And of course nobody is entitled to an office kitchen. But I . . . just don’t think even minor impositions on your employees are okay because of your religion unless it’s specifically related to the business at hand. Being an employer is being in a position of power, and religion is something you shouldn’t be crossing with that.

              1. Jen RO*

                I agree 100% and I am really surprised that so few commenters do! Maybe it really is a cultural thing, because I can’t imagine working in a place where religion is discussed beyond *maybe* a mention that you attended ritual X last weekend (for us, it would be Easter Mass and, um, that’s about it, unless you are very religious). Maybe because the Orthodox majority is so numerous (90%+ at the last census, at least on paper), so people just assume that everyone else is Orthodox too… and most young people (which most my coworkers are/have been) are not religious at all. Prayers before employee lunches or a kitchen ban for religious reasons would cause a ton of raised eyebrows and probably a lot of complaints. (And yes, I would be OK with Christmas etc not being holidays, as long as people had extra PTO to cover for them. But in a country that’s 90% one religion, as I said, it’s just not feasible from a business POV to have 10% of your employees working, better just shut everything down for a few days.)

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            It is pretty intractable, because you’re saying your philosophy of work first should always be of greater value that the OP boss’s philosophy of religion first.

            That’s why we all need to have a bit of give. The OP’s boss is providing some give: he’s still allowing them to eat any lunches in the lunch room, and pretends to not see the stashing items at their desk. He’s willing to break his own rules some, for the benefit of those who don’t follow the same; not willing to completely ignore his own philosophy’s tenets simply because someone else doesn’t also follow them. If they were not employees, someone he had power over, he’d probably be less giving.

  32. Cat*

    I wouldn’t be okay with this. I know, I know, it’s legal, he can do it, his religion requires it. I still wouldn’t be okay with working somewhere that did this and I wouldn’t be okay with it far more than it would actually inconvenience my life. I would not be comfortable working in a place where the owner altered the perks he provided to the staff based on his own religion. Full stop. I’d be looking for another job.

    1. fposte*

      And to me that’s an utterly appropriate response, in the “we all have our dealbreakers” category. That’s the complement to “his business, his rules”–“your job, your choice.”

    2. MK*

      You would seriously quit an otherwise great job because your boss made restrictions on what you can bring to the kitchen during a few days each year? Is it just religion you object to or an accommodation like this for any reason? What if it wasn’t a religious rerquirement, but a personal philosophy that dictated this? And, if you were the bussiness owner, would you be equally scrupulous about keeping any aspect of your personality from affecting your employees even in so minor a way?

      It’s your right, of course, but your stance seems too unbending. And somewhat unreallistic.

      1. Cat*

        I mean, making absolute statements is hard. Life is complicated. Who knows. But sitting here, today, comfortably ensconced in a workplace that doesn’t do that, to me, that’s an inexcusable imposition of religion in the workplace that basically goes fundamentally against my philosophy. “Personal philosophy?” I don’t know – what do you mean? I can’t think of any situation in which I’d be okay with an employer dictating what food was brought to the office unless, as was discussed upthread, the limitations are directly related to the business.

        I hope I wouldn’t impose my personal philosophical beliefs on my employees either. Again, I realize life is complicated, power corrupts, people have different lines, etc. But no, I can’t think of anything I’d impose on my employees that is similarly unrelated to the business and restrictive of their personal freedoms.

        1. MK*

          Ok, for example, let’s say you became vegetarian. Say you felt really strongly about it, believing that eating meat is inhumane and disgusting. Would you be ok with your workers ordering burgers for lunch and then eating them right next to you in the break room? Would you leave yourself rather than inconvienience them?

          I agree that imposing personal beliefs on employees is wrong. But it’s easy to make that assertion when you don’t happen to have very strong beliefs about things that might be relevant in a work setting. Also, I don’t agree that “Please don’t bring X and Y foods in the office for a couple of days a year” counts as imposing you beliefs on your workers; it’s asking them to respect an aspect of your life with only a minor inconvienience.

          1. Cat*

            I’ve never heard of a non-animal-rights based business that bans hamburgers in the break room and I know a ton of vegetarian employers. Clearlyu most people manage.

            1. Cat*

              In fact, come to think of it, most of the owners of the business at which I work at are Jewish, and none of them have ever tried to impose rules on how we use the kitchen during Passover (and combining those rules with the medical-related dietary restrictions some of my co-workers have would be an amazing nightmare).

                1. Cat*

                  Some of them are strictly observant. There is at least one non-Jewish owner. But, legalities aside, I think the compromise they’ve come to is the right one.

                2. Cat*

                  Also, if having a non-Jewish business partner is enough to exempt you from the “all kitchens you own” requirement, I feel like it’s worth noting that this guy probably doesn’t personally own the kitchen either. Even if the business owns the business space instead of leasing it, he probably is the sole (or not?) owner of some kind of corporate entity that owns the kitchen; and as we’ve all learned in recent years, corporations are separate legal entities.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Jewish law gets into this at a pretty micro level, and this is what it says. I don’t think people should be telling this guy from the outside how he should practice his faith, particularly when what he’s doing is pretty standard for observant orthodox Jews.

                4. Observer*

                  Cat, you are making a couple of unfounded assumptions. One is that these is a separate corporate entity. That’s not necessarily the case, especially at this size. And, from the point of view of Halacha (Jewish Law), corporations cannot be considered independent entities (certainly not for these purposes.)

            2. MK*

              No, “clearly” most people don’t feel very strongly about their beliefs or their lifestyle choises are not driven by strong beliefs. And you have heard of such bussinesses, since people in this very thread have mentioned them! What I am trying to say is that you seem to be making absolute assertions from a position of safety.

          2. Heather*

            If you work at a non-animal related organization and you’re a vegetarian who can’t stand the sight of meat, then yes, it’s your responsibility to leave rather than inconvenience everyone else. If it’s a medical issue (i.e. peanut allergy), that’s different, but it’s still on you to be aware of the possible presence of the allergen. It would be thoughtful of your coworkers to remember not to eat PBJ around you, but it’s not their responsibility to do so.

    3. Heather*

      I’m with you. This something I would 100% want to know about if I were interviewing there so I could say “thanks, but no thanks.”

      1. Melissa*

        If the job were otherwise perfect, you’d turn it down because you couldn’t use the kitchen 2-4 days a year?

  33. De Minimis*

    If it were a regular attribute of the workplace I might have more of a problem with it depending on how much of an inconvenience it turned out to be, but a few days a year, not so much.

  34. Biff*

    Uhm, it seems like some of the reason people are upset is because they don’t know what they can and can’t have at the office and maybe can’t get in and out fast enough to eat. I suggest that the boss does something like this:

    1. Inform everyone that everything in the kitchen is being cleaned out the day before Passover starts. Everything. Anything they want to take home needs to go.

    2. Inform everyone that the following week, he will be providing kosher chow for EVERYONE in the kitchen, and asks that they be kind and not bring food into the office during that time.

    3. In order to accommodate the inconvenience, he will be allowing everyone a 1.5 hour lunch so that they can eat away from the office if they so choose.

      1. Biff*

        As someone with dietary limitations and a need to eat small snacks throughout the day that is also on a tighter budget, no. He’s just cut off too many avenues for me to keep myself fed and healthy within my own strictures.

        1. MK*

          There absolutely no reason to suppose that any of his 7 employees has any such restrictions; I am sure the OP would have mentioned it. Also, since you can bring whatever you want and eat it at work (just not put it in the fridge), I am not sure what you even mean.

  35. Ash (the other one!)*

    To go along with Alison’s vegan example, I worked at the JCC the summer after I graduated high school. I was the only Jew of all the counselors assigned to the 9s/10s and most of the kids weren’t Jewish either (they received state grants for inclusion of youth with special needs, so a lot of the students were those with disabilities). BUT none of us were allowed to bring anything but a dairy lunch (no meat whatsoever, and we had to take away kids’ lunches that had meat and give them something else). I was an inclusion counselor and my charge had his birthday during camp and I had to go get a certified Kosher cake, too, from a specific bakery.

    It wasn’t that big of a deal except for the fact my idiot coworkers (mind you we were all 18-21) thought it would be hilarious to bring in bacon cheeseburgers the last day of camp. Well, that caused the JCC to shut down for the day. Great going guys.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      I’ll add that parents were often pissed we took kids’ lunches away, and were probably a bit miffed (I mean, tuna, cheese, or pb&j does get really old) but they got it after the first time. It was part of us working there and part of their kids going to camp. End of story.

    2. Meg Murry*

      In college, my roommate was a counselor at a JCC summer camp, but she didnt keep kosher at home. My boyfriend came to visit me for a week, but I had to go in to work one day, so she took him to the JCC to go on their field trip that day for something to do. They went through the drive thru for breakfast that morning and took it with them to the JCC. He didn’t think about it, until he started getting the stink eye from parents dropping off their kids and realized, oops, he was eating a bacon sandwich in the lobby of the JCC. He was pretty embarrassed, but my roommate was even more so since she hadn’t thought to stop him from ordering it or eating it there.

  36. Verde*

    This seems to me like a fantastic opportunity to do something as a group, rather than have people feel like they can’t do something they normally do in their place of work. As this year, only two working days were affected, it seems like on Day 1, people not observing the holiday could plan to go out to lunch, and on Day 2, perhaps everyone brings in a kosher-for-Passover dish and shares it. Perhaps some more creative solutions could be proposed rather than just people feeling shut out.

  37. Wren*

    Unless you work in a non-climate controlled environment, I’m a little surprised that not having the fridge is such a big deal. I have carried my lunch around at room temp for most of my life, to school, and now to work, including some years an hour in transit in summer heat with no air conditioning yet I have never food poisoned myself. The only time I used a cooler for my lunch was when I had an outdoor summer job.

    I have a fridge at work now, and I don’t refrigerate anything I’m eating the same day unless I want to eat it cold.

  38. HR "Faithless"*

    Threads like these are both enlightening and disheartening. I label myself not Atheist, just simply faithless. I have no need for any religion to call my own, at the same time I offer no answers either.

    A few years ago I was managing HR and Safety at a remote (room & board provided) Alaska seafood plant, the crews were working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week and we had 35-40 of Muslims there. Ramadan fell in August/early Sept and I had no idea tell then the commitment and sacrifice they practiced. Since accommodations were necessary to keep workers healthy and product moving I worked closely with a group of leaders to provide eating, prayer, and celebratory opportunities that would work with them and our production and housing limitations. This took a lot of negotiating and was a huge inconvenience to facility management. You know what I learned? These people sacrifice a hellofa lot more than we did. It wasn’t about an inconvenience for us, it was about a faith greater than I (and many others) could ever understand. A faith they embrace despite great sacrifice.

    What am I getting at? Two things, after Ramadan is the Eid al-Fitr celebration, the most spiritual and uplifting event I’ve been witness too. I realized that while comfortable in my faithless shoes, I can never feel the spiritual “wholeness” they felt. It was a great learning experience and I want to assist with their sacrifice and celebration for just a little bit of their joy.

    And my second point- To Mike C’s and some others, realize, just as I had, their faith, commitment, and sacrifice is more than just 2-4 days a year of minor inconvenience.

    1. Jen RO*

      Well, see, I agree – their sacrifice is much, much more than I ever needed to do. But you know what? It’s not my problem! (I am sure this will label me as even more of a grumpy atheist, or maybe weird Eastern European, but oh well.)

      1. Heather*

        I’m with you, Jen (grumpy agnostic East Coast American here). It was really nice of HR “Faithless” (hee hee!) to work to accomodate the Muslim employees, but I just don’t find self-imposed sacrifices of any religion to be meaningful or uplifting.

        Now, if their religion required them to volunteer at a food bank or animal shelter once a week, that I would find uplifting. But a deity who can be appeased by its followers inconveniencing themselves in a way that really does nothing to improve the world has zero appeal to me. Of course I respect others’ right to do such things, but only to the extent that they don’t trample on my right to not sacrifice. Like, if you’re Catholic and you want to go get ashes on Ash Wednesday, please do, but I don’t think it’s any more fair to come in late because of it and let others cover your workload without making it up to them than it is to come in late because you were out late the night before.

        When it comes down to it, religion is still something you choose, unlike gender, race, disability, etc., and I think that’s what colors my feelings about it.

        1. Rachel*

          Luckily for those of us who choose religious observances that may on occasion inconvenience our workplaces, at least in the US it’s illegal for you to discriminate against us! Because I have fast days and days that I can’t work because I have to be at synagogue and weird dietary things and so on. And legally, my workplace must accommodate my days off that are for religious purposes. That means, for example, that I’m not the member of my team going to an out-of-town event that is happening the day after Rosh HaShanah this year, because I can’t manage the travel with my religious observance. I have to be at synagogue while my coworker will be on an airplane.

          Now, I’ve never worked somewhere that made a fuss about the ways that my religious practice inconveniences others in the workplace. But your comments on this make it clear that I should be very grateful for the first amendment protecting my religious practice!

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I gotta tell you, this isn’t entirely right in terms of religious accommodations in the workplace. There is a “reasonable” aspect of it. As in, if your requested accommodation causes “more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer’s business.” In most cases, it’s fairly easy to accommodate and it’s an non-issue though. But in some cases, they don’t legally have to accommodate your days off. Just wanted to point that out.

            But yeah, I’m really glad those rules are in place as well. And frankly, it’s just good business sense. Like HR Faithless above – making some accommodations for employees observing Ramadan is just smart – they’ll be more productive and fulfilled if they can observe their religious duties. As a boss, I want happy employees. That’s a good thing.

        2. Melissa*

          Funny you should mention that; Islam actually requires giving to charity, and it’s considered a special blessing to give to charity during Ramadan.

    2. Jean*

      Nice comments about faith and commitment and the uplift that people can experience when they expend a lot of time and energy on behalf of their religion. I will try to remember them when I am cleaning my oven for Passover and on my last nerve! Although I’m not an Orthodox Jew (and thus not super-strict re Passover preparations) I find it satisfying to scrub the hell (ha) out of my kitchen before the holiday begins.

  39. And with that, farewell.*

    After many years of reading this blog and asking others to turn to you for your fantastic advice, you chose to take a political side and slam a corporation for following their beliefs while instructing this question asker to respect her boss’ beliefs. Unbelievable. Perhaps because you respect a Jew, since you are a Jew? Who knows. I’m done and I’ll be telling everyone I know I was sadly mistaken.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      No. As a Christian who respects the stance of Hobby Lobby (even if I don’t agree with it), and as someone who thinks that the two topics are similar, you are still mistaken in this stance. Fantastic advice does not cease to be such because of one statement.

      Politics and religion can divide us if we cease to talk to each other about it, cease to listen to others who don’t agree with us. Don’t add to the division.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m sorry to hear that. I think it’s possible to disagree with a corporation’s stance while still respecting people of all different faiths.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      I read it more as a lighthearted “you could be dealing with an issue far more complex and difficult than this!”

      And really, responding with the adult equivalent of “I’m going to take my ball and go home?” because you don’t like one single comment?

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      The way I interpreted Alison comment was that not using the kitchen for a few days is not a big deal, compared to some other religious based dictates companies could impose.

      It certainly puts the situations into context, if the owner of the business was to have been too demanding I would have expected both the advice form Alison and the general mood in the comments to have been different.

      So why you’re conflating the two issues is beyond me. Do you really not see the difference between not using a fridge for two days and not getting a birth control from health insurance? The two things are not comparable at all. Having a personal choice dictated to you by what your instance covers is far more invasive and the impact more far reaching than not being able to keep an sandwich cold.

      It’s a shame you’ll miss out on the awesome blog with some fantastic advice, there’s a great community here

      1. Sitchey*

        That would be true except, she also inflated her side. They weren’t trying to deny birth control. They only denied three forms of it, which will cause the baby to be aborted if you should become pregnant. Abortions are against their faith, not birth control. They are not going to go against their beliefs anymore then he would. Imagine him being forced to pay for a ham and cheese sandwich picnic for his employees holiday party. When someone is devout in their faith, they should never be forced to support the opposite.

  40. Lyon*

    Well… as a non practicing Jew Im fed up with Christmas being shoved down everyones throat from mid November to late December. Think of this as payback… LOL

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      You mean you only see it as late as mid-November??? Christmas Creep starts the minute Back-To-School ends around here!

      1. Zahra*

        Having worked in retail, I can tell you why: Back-to-school, Halloween and Christmas stuff is bundled up as a special order (usually made around April) and delivered pretty much all at once. As soon as the back-to-school stuff is moving out, the Christmas stuff leaves the back store to get on the shelves and free up space for other merchandise.

    2. Sitchey*

      Wow. That’s a really hateful attitude. A lot of people celebrate Christmas who aren’t Christian. It may come as a surprise but, nowhere in the Bible does it discuss Santa clause. It has turned into a hallmark holiday by many but, very little of still celebrates the birth of Christ. My family family does not partake in the hallmark Santa version of the holiday. We do however, observe the birth of our Savior as a family and with our church. We do not shove it down anyone’s throat. It’s wrong to blame Christians for companies taking a special holiday of ours and turning it into a cash cow.

  41. Insanity Wolf*

    While what he is doing does not sound impactful on a hugely unpleasant or unworkable level, it sounds like he’s doing it in the shittiest way possible.

    A sane manager who wants to comply with religious obligations should have made it clear to his employees at the hiring stage that the Passover requirements would have to be met at work and that the employees would have to plan around this. As this is only a couple of working days, this is a reasonable requirement.

    What he is actually DOING is, albeit in mild form, stealing/confiscating people’s personal food, and also limiting/decreasing access to what is generally considered standard office essential supplies (coffee making facilities). It sounds like he is doing it without proper discussion or planning with the non-Jewish employees, with no proper warning (as LW says s/he is having to “warn” new hires, I assume he is just springing this on new people without beforehand discussion).

    Also, things being “Jewish law” or “required by religion” shouldn’t even enter the conversation. There are plenty of things required by certain religions’ rules or laws that are by no means considered acceptable to do in other cultures, or will need to be adapted in some way to satisfy the culture’s laws or expectations. Hiding other people’s food is, again, a mild form of this, but still unacceptable.

  42. Lyon*

    Well speaking as a non practicing Jewish person this is awesome. Its just the reverse of having Christmas blown in everyone’s face from November 1st to Dec 31 St. I love this.

  43. Lyon*

    Whats the big deal? Every Christmas and Easter Jews get to have Christmas and Easter shoved down their throats…
    Just think of this as a tiny bit of payback. It doesnt feel so good does it? Too bad!

    Merry Christmas to everyone…. even the ones that dont celebrate. Sound familiar?

  44. Teixeira*

    I have the same problem, but in my house and with my husband. He converted to judaism some years ago and now the whole family is obligated to eat kosher; the same thing occurs for passover: he hides food that is not allowed for 8 days.
    I am Christian and resent to have to eat according to his rules; I don’t have the option to eat what I was used my whole life because he converted. We have to follow his rules, even thought we are not jewish! Very upsetting! Who gave him the right to do that? He even try to impose the rules to other family’s homes.

  45. Lyon*

    Whats the problem here? Everyone that is non Christian has to listen to Christmas from November 1st to Dec 31st
    Its so bloody annoying. Non Christians are forced into Christmas.
    Just think of this a micro payback. And I love it!

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