Jewish Christmas: Beyond Chinese food and the movies

Singles parties, museums and comedy shows all draw crowds - others choose to travel or volunteer for charity.

A tradition seemingly as old as the Torah itself holds that Jews spend Christmas Day eating Chinese food and going to the movies.

But for those tired of a nosh and a flick, there are plenty of other things to do on Dec. 24 and 25.

Various Jewish singles events will take place on Christmas Eve, for example, including the so-called Matzo Ball at Capitale on the Lower East Side.

An even larger shindig, sponsored by, will be held at five venues simultaneously, with complimentary limo service for party hoppers.

"It's the biggest singles day of the year," said Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, author of "A Kosher Christmas: 'Tis the Season to Be Jewish."

The Jewish-themed museums in the city are also typically packed on Christmas. This year, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City will host a family celebration, complete with crafts, a klezmer concert, a movie screening and its regular exhibitions.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side will put on three concerts by "The Macaroons," a kids' band.

"Not just Jews come here, but tourists looking for something to do or people looking for a break from ... too much food and too much family," said Alex Wittenberg, communications coordinator at the Jewish Museum.

The show will go on as well for a number of Jewish comedy and theater productions, such as "A Very Jewish Christmas," "Meshuganeh Comedy," "Jewmongous" and "Old Jews Telling Jokes."

Alternatively, some Jews choose to volunteer for charity.

"I call it the Christmas mitzvah," Plaut said.


"We turn an otherwise boring night into something that's hopefully exciting for people." Jeff Strank, founder of, a Jewish event-planning site

BOX What to do for non-Jews who don't celebrate Christmas

Organized events for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and others who don't conventionally celebrate Christmas are not nearly as commonplace as they are for Jews. But sources said these groups likewise tend to travel, go to the movies, eat at the few restaurants that are open, gamble at casinos, volunteer for charity and combine their own traditions with the secular aspects of Christmas.

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