Did You Know…About the Chinese-Jewish Connection?

Oded and Bimini represent a wonderful bonding of Jewish and Chinese culture.

If you think about it, in many ways, Jewish and Chinese people are kindred spirits.

Both cultures use a different” calendar. We celebrate our own New Years. We dream of our children becoming or marrying doctors. Jewish bubbes (grandmas) like to get together to play the same game as Chinese bubbes. It’s called mah-jongg. (I was astounded to learn that Chinese people played it, too. Then I discovered, it’s actually a Chinese game, not a Jewish game! No wonder it has all those fancy little drawings instead of letters.) Who plays mah-jongg besides Chinese women and their Jewish counterparts? Kindred spirits indeed. But most of all, there’s the food.

Somehow I wouldn’t be surprised if Chinese mothers feed their kids just like our Yiddishe mamas do. I tease my mother about her “Igots.” Whenever I come over she asks me if I’m hungry, and before waiting for an answer she tells me, “I got some chicken, I got a little leftover pot roast, I got cheese…” (basically the “Igots” are a listing of everything in the refrigerator, and maybe the freezer too, because it wouldn’t take long to thaw the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.)

But when it comes to food, you have to know that many if not most Jews have a romance with Chinese food. Some of their dishes are similar to things our bubbes used to make, only more exotic. For example, Chinese potstickers could be compared to Jewish blintzes (the meat kind, not the cheese kind) and won ton soup is like chicken soup with kreplach (that’s what we call our dumplings).

But what I think it really comes down to is the love. Ours are both very nurturing cultures. Whenever I speak at a Chinese church, I’m always invited to lunch afterward. And after lunch, they always hand me a box of leftovers, “For later.” Just like Mom. And I leave thinking the same thing as when I leave my mother’s house: I’ll start my diet tomorrow.


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Ruth Rosen | San Francisco

Newsletter Editor, Missionary

Ruth Rosen, daughter of Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen, is a staff writer and editor with Jews for Jesus. Her parents raised her with a sense of Jewishness as well as "Jesusness." Ruth has a degree in biblical studies from Biola College in Southern California and has been part of our full-time staff since 1979. She's toured with Jewish gospel drama teams and participated in many outreaches. She writes and edits quite a few of our evangelistic resources, including many broadside tracts. One of her favorites is, "Who Needs Politics." Ruth also helps other Jewish believers in Jesus tell their stories. That includes her father, whose biography she authored in what she says was "one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life." For details, or to order your copy of Called to Controversy the Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus, visit our online store. Ruth also writes shorter "faith journey" stories in books like Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician as well as in booklets like From Generation to Generation: A Jewish Family Finds Their Way Home. She edits the Jews for Jesus Newsletter for Christians who want to pray for our ministry and our missionaries. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys writing fiction and playing with her dog, Annie whom she rescued. Ruth says, "Some people say that rescue dogs have issues, and that is probably true. If dogs could talk, they'd probably say that people have issues, and that is probably even more true. I'm glad that God is in the business of rescuing people, (and dogs) despite—or maybe because of—all our issues." You can follow Ruth Rosen on facebook or as RuthARosen on twitter.

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