Williamsburg

Event explores Christmas link between Jews and Chinese Restaurants

December 18, 2018 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Panda Restaurant Group/AP Images

“Chow x Judaism,” a culinary event that explores why many Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas, will take place on Friday, Dec. 21 at the Museum of Food and Drink at 62 Bayard St. in Williamsburg.

On the Lower East Side in the late 19th century, Jewish immigrants lived in close proximity to Chinese immigrants in Chinatown and began to patronize Chinese restaurants because they were among the few to remain open on Christmas, according to Brooklyn Daily.

In addition, Chinese food doesn’t use dairy, so many immigrants saw it as “closer to kosher” than other cuisines that often mix meat with cheese.

Later on, in the 1920s, many American-born Jews bent the rules even further when they visited these restaurants to eat chow mein and chop suey, which sometimes use ground pork, Brooklyn Daily said.

According to the book “A Kosher Christmas: ’Tis the Season to Be Jewish” by Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, one observer commented in 1928 that there were six chop suey restaurants along Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville, then a solidly Jewish neighborhood.

“Chow x Judaism” will feature a presentation by Plaut; a kosher wine tasting; food from Chef Julie Cole of the Manhattan eatery Nom Wah Nolita; storytelling by food writer Beth Kaiserman; and comedy from Fumi Abe and Mic Nguyen, Brooklyn Daily reported.

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