Every year around this time a certain handwritten sign goes viral on Jewish Facebook: “The Chinese Rest. Assoc. of the United States would like to extend our thanks to The Jewish People. We do not completely understand your dietary customs… But we are proud and grateful that your GOD insists you eat our food on Christmas,” according to The Jewish News of Northern California.
The holiday message is in all likelihood a fabrication, but the tradition behind it? Not so much.
“I checked with other American Jewish historians,” Joshua Eli Plaut, author of “A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season to be Jewish” and rabbi of the Metropolitan Synagogue of New York said of the sign. “We have found no evidence of this being authentic or not. It’s urban folklore. But it doesn’t matter because the message is funny and it just goes to show you this is a real phenomenon.”
While it’s not prescribed in Jewish texts that we do anything on Christmas, let alone eat our weight in baby corn and water chestnuts, American Jews have a long history of breaking out the chopsticks in late December while Christians are slicing into honey-glazed ham.