Attending Social Gatherings and Holiday Parties
I was employed by a marketing company with a few other Jews on the staff. Every year they would hold a generic “holiday party” at an event hall without ascribing it specifically to the non-Jewish holidays – presumably, the Jewish
employees were welcome to view it as a “Hanukah party.” The company’s general counsel (in other words, me) was able to establish that there would be no alcohol served, to avoid safety issues driving back from the party. This did not solve the problems of socializing and non-kosher refreshments. I would have been happy to find a way out of attending, but I was not eager to offend my employer and coworkers. In addition, bonus checks were given out at this affair, and showing up was the way to get the check. I consulted Rav Gershon Bess, who said that I could attend and collect my check, on the condition that I not get too comfortable or stay for too long. In fact, he advised that I remain standing the entire time, rather than sitting down and settling in. Are we permitted to attend non-Jewish social gatherings, whether personal or business related, as long as we stay away from alcohol? What about company “holiday parties”? Can we go, and can we eat at such affairs if there is kosher food available?