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Posted on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 8:30 a.m.

Will you have a Kung Pao kosher Christmas?

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

I once had a Jewish housemate who explained the different types of silverware her family needed to keep kosher — one set for meat, one set for dairy, and one set of disposable chopsticks for Chinese take-out. She also described how Jewish people go out for Chinese food on Christmas day because Chinese restaurants are always open (and back then, the only other people not celebrating Christmas). I never knew how critical my culture was for her culture.

Several years ago, I was amused to learn how some Jewish communities were taking that tradition another step further and organizing big Jewish comedy shows at Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day. The organizers of one such event in San Jose, Calif., told the San Jose Mercury News at the time that they had had a difficult time explaining their proposal to the Chinese restaurant owners, who had not even realized that so many of their customers that day were Jewish, or why. We do not always realize the importance of how we intersect with other people, other cultures.

Here is a great article I found at “Judaism 101: What Do Jews Do on Christmas?”

Here is another grand Ann Arbor tradition for all those who do not celebrate Christmas, organized by Temple Beth Emeth: a movie at the Michigan Theater. From the Temple Beth Emeth website:

December 25th Movie - The Music Man at The Michigan Theater

Come spend the morning with family and community. Doors open at 10 am - Movie begins at 10:30 am Tickets are $7 each Concessions include bagels for breakfast and kosher hot dogs for lunch as well as tried and true popcorn and candy. Door Prizes! Sing Along! Come in Costume if desired!

Tickets will be available at "will call" before the movie, or they can be picked up in the Temple office beginning December 1. To order your tickets online, click here.

I checked with my two favorite Chinese restaurants, TK Wu and Asian Legend, both right by the Michigan Theater, and both will be open Christmas Day.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at


Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 10:19 p.m.

Yes! Brandon Harris Walker's hysterical "Chinese Food on Christmas." I almost included it in the article. I've been humming it for the past two days. His website is Thanks!


Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 3:44 p.m.

Check out this You Tube music-video about Jewish folks eating Chinese food on Christmas Day.

Mary Bilyeu

Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 2:25 p.m.

I will, indeed, be having a Kung Pao kosher Christmas -- Chinese food with dear friends on Christmas Eve, my other annual tradition besides the cookie fest!