How do I schmooze the Jews?

In my job now, I have to know how to get along with a lot of Orthodox Jewish people and how to grease their palms, as it were, not necessarily with money, though. Small gifts and tokens of appreciation are required. Can anyone familiar with Orthodox laws tell me what is a good idea for gifts, or bad ideas? Remember, I’m talking small stuff, nothing too extravagant. Things that would be normal for a business acquaintance to get you. Any suggestions?

Cookies or chocolate. Just make damn sure that it’s kosher. :slight_smile:

What do you do now, that entails greasing Jews palms?
Might help us here with ideas.

Brush up on Halacha.
Btw something that wouldn’t cost you anything…respect.

“Orthodox Jews” covers a lot of territory. You might want to be more explicit about what form or religion they practice. (Also, reported for forum change to IMHO, since you’re asking for advice.)

Happy, I respect them just fine. I have gotten further with a lot of them off of sheer personality than most people do in my position, according to my co workers. I am in real estate. The palm greasing really is par for the course. Not a bribe… perhaps palm greasing is too harsh a term. But gifts and stuff is EXPECTED with some of these landlords, and I just don’t want to fuck it up. I tried to shake one of their hands once, and found out that is a no no. He was kind enough to explain to me why it wasn’t ok, and I ended up getting an exclusive with him, so I think I did ok. I would just like to know some of the rules when it comes to gift giving an such. I know to keep it kosher. Was hoping for some other tips.

Since the OP is looking for advice, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Nothing risqué or bawdy. Make sure any food is packaged and marked Kosher. Beyond that any individual observant Jew is going to be an individual with his or her own likes and dislikes. I don’t think you’ll find a universal answer to your question beyond what you’ve been told.

I’m guessing a slab of pork belly is out of the question then?

First of all, learn what the word schmooze means and how to use it.

Only assholes use it as transitive.

Avoid wine.
A bottle of any other alcoholic drink is okay, as long as it is clearly labelled kosher, of course.
But wine is reserved for ceremonial use in prayer rituals, with special blessings said over it.
It may not be an appropriate gift.

yeah, generally the rule is to say “schmooze with somebody”.

Ok. I stand corrected on “schmooze”. Thanks. The wine thing is exactly the type of thing I’m talking about. Many of my independent landlords love that I bring them wine at lease signings. I was scared to do that with the orthodox landlords cause I thought there might be some rule. Ivory, I know that Jewish people are individuals. Please, I beg of people not to start that. I am asking what is ok and not ok, beyond kosher, which I know is ok. I’m asking from a general standpoint regarding most orthodox Jewish people. Like, I know that GENERALLY they observe the sabbath, so we know we don’t try to contact them then. Thanks to everyone for the advice.

Can someone comment on the wine? It’s not been my experience for orthodox/observant Jews that wine would be inappropriate. Sure wine is used in blessings, but it’s not sacred. I could very well be wrong, but it’s not my understanding.


There is a Rabbinic injunction against Jews consuming wine that has been touched by a non-Jew, which is a relic of the times that non-Jews routinely used wine in sacrifices to their idols (and a Jew is not allowed to use anything that had been designated for use in idol-worship).

That said, pretty much any kosher wine on the shelf of a wine/liquor store will already be past the point in processing where handling by a non-Jew renders it non-Kosher. So realistically, there’s not much to be concerned with there.

Nzinga, I’m an Orthodox Jew and I can’t think of any particular gift guidelines. I know that when a drug vendor visits the doctor (also an Orthodox Jew) that my wife works for, they usually bring varied office supplies with their drug’s logo. Those are always appreciated in her office.

Thanks, that jives with my observation as well.

A huge part of my family are observant Jews and Hasidic Jews (my mom was raised Hasidic in Poland before the war) and I know my family will socially drink wine in moderation. Granted, we were handling the wine, but not growing it! So, if we bought a bottle it had been handled by non-Jews before. I do know that schnapps, cognac or whiskey was more commonly enjoyed, but that was just us, not a cultural preference.

When I was a child my best friend was the second son of an Orthodox family. They owned a clothing store, and one of their vendors used to bring them honey from the region of Israel where they grew up. This could be just a personal thing but my sense was that there was something especially respectful intended by the gift of honey.

Again, it may just be that he took the time to find something personal to them and their past.

As a general sales rule, any gift which makes it into the home will cement you as a preferred business partner. Visiting on a Friday, with prepared foods which make a good snack without any preparations (baked goods and such) will be very much appreciated and shared amongst the family on Saturday. Developing a relationship with a Kosher bakery and becoming known for bringing gifts from there will take you a long way too.

If there is ever a trade conference or other event that they might wish to attend but which occurs on a Saturday, offering a ride, and making sure they are able to get through the day without having to turn on lights, etc. would be very much appreciated. It might be a once in a lifetime chance, but if it happens they’ll never forget you for it.

Learning and remembering family events. If they drop that a child is about to Bar/Bat mitzvah, sending something is very important. Don’t push, but always write down any little family names/details and ask about them when you return.

ETA: Dress very conservatively. Long sleeves, darker colors, that sort of thing. Never, never go into their offices in a sleeveless top or miniskirt.

Thank you. Thank you, thank you , thank you.

I think kosher whiskey and chocolate is the way, which I was leaning that way anyway. Brilliant idea to bring it Friday morning so that they may take it home and share it amongst friends and fily over the weekend. Yesss!

About the not-shaking hands: what, then, is an acceptable greeting? A salute? A bow?

I was wondering that as well. Why is shaking hands not allowed?

He told me that hecan only shake his wife’s hand. I asked him during the awkward silence. Haha. He was very nice and proceeded to tell me a few other tips.

Yes. The only woman that he can touch is a close family member.