Israel’s transformation from Jewish State to Start-Up Nation began on Oct. 14, 1993, and was complete less than five years later, on June 8, 1998.

The first date marks the opening of the country’s first-ever McDonald’s restaurant, in a shopping mall just outside Tel Aviv and about a 20 minute walk from my grandmother’s house. I was there that day, huddled with hundreds of others, waiting in line for well over an hour for the privilege of buying a little taste of the big world out there.

Growing up, “fast food” meant shawarma and falafel stuffed in pita bread, drizzled with tahini, and topped with pickles. It was delicious, sure, but also provincial, the sort of fare you would find in a construction worker’s or a bus driver’s lunchbox. McDonald’s was what they chomped on in New York and London and Paris, the treat for those on the make and on the go.

Because no Jewish festivity is complete without a touch of grumbling, someone waiting in line with me might have lamented that the new restaurant wasn’t kosher, or that the government granted the multinational special dispensation to import spuds that met its specific standards, incensing local farmers. But no one there that day cared too much about tradition or the plight of our potato growers: We wanted to eat up the world.

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