irenegro (irenegro) wrote,

jewish christmas

We call it the Jewish Christmas: eating Chinese food, going to the movies, and otherwise skipping the whole Santa thing.

Growing up in Long Island in the 1960s and ’70s, my mom and her family ate Chinese food with their neighbors, and the tradition goes back even further than that. Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, author of A Kosher Christmas: Tis the Season to Be Jewish, writes that the Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food, in general, dates back all the way to the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries in New York, where Jews and Chinese people lived in tandem on the Lower East Side. Jews would regularly eat at Chinese restaurants, a place where they were free from anti-Semitism; the bond was so significant, Plaut writes, that many Chinese thought the Jews’ Yiddish-inflected English was the norm.

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