Ok, folks, up here in Montreal there are no kosher Subway franchises, Dunkin Donuts is not kosher nor is it ever likely to have a kosher place here either. Us Orthodox Montreal folks are really big on doing nothing to promote Ma’arat Ayin – the appearance of doing something wrong.
When I visited Brooklyn last summer and first stepped into kosher Dunkin Donuts and Subway I really felt like I was eating treife. It just seemed weird. I have been to a few more Dunkin Donuts since then, and in Israel we did Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken and tried a Pizza Hut too.
On a Sunday afternoon there are plenty of things to do in NY (as everywhere else) – laundry, cleaning, cooking, but the kids don’t really like that kind of activity, so you want to look for something fun and inexpensive for them to do. Apparently there is a place called Chuck E Cheese which has lots of Arcade games and stuff for kids to put tokens in and win prizes. Awesomeness. Ok sure, let’s go there! Kids will have fun and stop whining that they are bored. What? It’s a treife restaurant too?
I dunno, it just felt kinda weird – going to a treife restaurant to play games? Not really my thing, but when in Rome and all that. So we go in, they stamp our hands with the same UV number, different from everyone else – that’s to make sure that when we leave we leave with our own kids who have the same code. Smart.
The place is huge with all different games and pinball machines etc. We got tokens for the kids and off they went to have a blast. The restaurant and eating area was separate from the gaming area – and it wasn’t obviously a restaurant in my opinion.
Once the kids were all settled I looked at the mix of people around me – white, black, asian, latino….and chassidish?? What? Ok, I am not exactly irreligious, far from it, but my boys in their baseball caps and short trousers don’t look obviously Jewish and kinda blended in. If I, a modern orthodox woman, had issues going into Chuck E Cheese – what about the Chassidim? I mean, what if the Rebbe hears that they went to a treife restaurant? The Ma’arat Ayin would be huge for them. (It would be huge for me too…..but MOs are not held to the same standard as Chassidim).
From what I have heard before and since, the Monsey community in general is OK with the kids going to play in Chuck E Cheese (ok come Chuck E Cheese, pay me a royalty for everytime I say your name, ok?? Speak to my agent…..). We know they aren’t going there for the food, I don’t think my children even noticed that they sold food there! They were too busy winning their prizes and having good clean fun.
Truth is – if there was something similar here there is no way I would have taken my kids. It is just not done up here. Are we more discerning about where we take our kids, or are we more afraid of what people might think? We are told to be dan l’chaf z’chut – to judge favourably – but why put someone in that position to even think to judge you?
I went along with it because it sounded like fun for the kids and they had a great time. There was a huge weirdness and ick element in it for me, but that didn’t stop their enjoyment. Would I go again? Probably….but only because it seems to be socially acceptable in our community there.
What are your thoughts? Do standards change community to community? Place to place? Was this acceptable? Would it be to you? if you are chassidish what are your thoughts? (and why are you on the internet 😉 )