Last night, for the first time ever, I went out to eat with coworkers. At a restaurant! My entire QA team went out for a night of team bonding. I spent the whole night basking in the glow of the experience. Allow me to explain a little. Having worked my entire professional career in Pittsburgh, the only kosher restaurant available was a pizza shop. In theory I could have gone there if we had really wanted to, but as you probably don't know I don't any flour products so pizza is out. As frustrating as this was for me, it was actually equally frustrating to my coworkers who just didn't understand why I couldn't just come out with them to a non-kosher place, or why I couldn't just get some pizza once in a while. Experiences like this were one of the driving factors for me to want to pick up and move to Israel. Having to use all of my vacation days on the Jewish holidays and not getting to socialize with coworkers outside of work (besides for the times when we invited them for shabbos meals) always left me feeling like an outsider.
Now I'm here in Israel. Most of my coworkers don't actually keep kosher, but there is an abundance of kosher restaurant choices which they are all totally fine with going to. Last night we went to Jems Beer Factory and let me tell you, it was niiice. Since the company was paying (thanks MyHeritage!!!) we got beers, appetizers, our meals and desserts all around. The camaraderie was high and the food was great. We played a game at the end where everyone had submitted two facts about themselves which nobody knew, and tried to guess which fact belonged to which person. All in all, it was such a wonderful evening and I'm really looking forward to doing something like this again. Here's a fun panorama I took (which is why I'm not in it) because I wanted to immortalize this moment. I live in a Jewish state. I don't have to take a day off of work for Rosh Hashana and I can go out and be a part of my team when food is involved.
I'm looking forward to many more occasions to celebrate and bond without feeling like a complete outsider.