The Schmooze

A Jewish Guide to Christmas 2011

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, which means that it might be tougher than usual to get that reservation at your favorite Chinese restaurant. But with December 25 just a few days away, there’s no need to feel like a Grinch.

Whether your usual plans have fallen through or you’re in the mood for something different this year (like a comedy show or a mah-jongg game), browse our guide for how to keep your spirits bright throughout the holiday weekend. After you’ve gorged yourself on wontons, for example, you might burn some calories on a walking tour or take the kids to a museum. Got other ideas for avoiding a blue Christmas? Feel free to suggest an event in the comments section below.

EAT

Jewish Christmas Eve at Mezze, December 24, Los Angeles: Feast on chef Micah Wexler’s array of house made Eastern Mediterranean edibles, including wild salmon, chopped chicken livers, smoked sablefish, matzoball soup pastrami, potato knish and shawarma. 6 p.m. – 1 a.m. For reservations, call (310) 657-4103.

Mile End’s Traditional Jewish Christmas Feast, December 24-25, Los Angeles: For $50 per person, the menu includes Sichuan pickles, beef noodle hot pot, a pupu platter, veggies, rice, and dessert. Reservations required; call (646) 494-9508.

Woks And Lox: The Very First Jewish And Asian Christmas, Queens Kickshaw, December 24, New York: Chinese chef Chichi Wang brings Jewish and Chinese cultures together with a menu including unusual delicacies like shiitake ginger matzoh ball soup, ginger sriracha wok-fried bagel strips, and sichuan peppercorn latkes. The event will also feature a Chinese auction, mah-jongg, and a bar-mitzvah-like signing board. Eat from 5 to 7 p.m.; party from 7 to 9. For details visit the event’s website.

Or check out New York Magazine’s Grub Street guide to the nine best non-traditional places to eat great Chinese food on Christmas.

WALK

21st Annual Christmas Day Jewish East Side Tour, December 25, New York: Walk through more than 150 years of Jewish history and settlement. Stops include: the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the founding sites of the B’nai B’rith and HIAS, and — best of all! — the Jewish Daily Forward building. Tours begin at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. $18 adults, $15 seniors/students. Contact Big Onion Walking Tours for more information: (212) 439-1090 or www.bigonion.com.

Boston Jewish Cultural Walking Tour, December 25, Boston: Starting at the strictly kosher Milk Street Café, this new tour includes a stroll through Beacon Hill’s “back side”, where Jews and blacks resided during the nineteenth century, a trip through Boston’s impressive and impactful Holocaust Memorial in one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods, and a final stop at the entrance to the North End, which was a Jewish immigrant enclave before the arrival of newly arrived Italians transformed the area into a “Little Italy” around the turn of the century. 2 p.m. $25 for adults; $12.50 for kids 16 and under. For reseverations call 1-866-WE-WALKS (1-866-939-2557)

CHINESE FOOD AND A MOVIE

Zahav’s 2nd Annual “A Very Jewish Christmas,” December 25, New York: Chef Michael Solomonov will serve up Israeli-inflected Chinese food, movies shown on a big screen and hot buttered popcorn. Submit your movie requests via Twitter @zahavrestaurant. Skip this one if you keep kosher, though: The menu includes shrimp salad with green papaya, cashews, tahina and nigella; Szechuan-style pork belly with shifka peppers and carrots; veal dumplings with harissa oil and cucumbers; salt & pepper sweetbreads with lo mein; Chinese broccoli with smoked mackerel; Moo Shu duck with walnuts, black garlic and carob; and white chocolate cake with mandarin orange sorbet and star anise. For more information or to make a reservation, call (215) 625-8800 or visit www.zahavrestaurant.com.

VISIT A MUSEUM

“Being Jewish at Christmas,” The National Museum of American Jewish History, December 25, Philadelphia: With kid-friendly musical performances and professional artists leading a dreidel-making workshop, this one is a great choice for families. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The museum’s core exhibition, café and store will also be open all day. Visit http://www.nmajh.org/bjac/ for admission prices and details.

“I Lift My Lamp: A Statue-esque Hanukkah,” Museum of Jewish Heritage, open December 25, New York: Head downtown for a celebration of New York-born poet Emma Lazarus, who wrote the sonnet that appears inside the base of the Statue of Liberty. The exhibit will be open through summer 2012, but Christmas is the perfect opportunity to explore her world. Or, if you prefer to be outside, take a free smartphone walking tour of 19 historic sites throughout Lower Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Union Square, Chinatown, Chelsea, midtown, and the East River that helped shape Emma’s legacy. Call (646) 437-4202 or visit mjhnyc.org for more details.

All Galleries Open at The Jewish Museum, December 25, New York: Bring the kids to one of three concerts (11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; $12 for adults, free for children under 12) starring The Macaroons, a guitar-based indie band that performs family-frinedly tunes like “Hurry Up and Light the Candle.” Then check out the museum’s regular exhibits, which are open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For details and admission prices, visit http://www.thejewishmuseum.org or call (212) 423-3200.

LAUGH

The Moo Shu Jew Show, Joy Tsin Lau Restaurant, December 24, Philadelphia: Chow down on Chinese food and listen to an all-star lineup of Jewish comedians cutting up about Christmas in a show started by funny gal Cory Kahaney. The show starts at 6PM. $65 includes dinner, the show, tax and tip; you pay for your own drinks. Purchase tickets at www.gershmanY.org or call (212) 545-4400.

JEWMONGOUS!, KFAR Jewish Arts Center, December 25, Chicago: Sean Altman, founder and former leader of the vocal group Rockapella (aka “Bart Simpson of the Yeshiva”), presents his collection of original unkosher comedy songs riffing on the dilemmas of the modern Jew. The program includes titles like “Reuben The Hook-Nosed Reindeer,” “Christian Baby Blood,” and “What The Hell Is Simchas Torah?” — so leave the kids with the babysitter. Two shows: 8 p.m. (6:30 p.m. doors) and 9:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. doors). Tickets are $18 in advance via ticketweb and $25 at the door.

DRINK

Jewbilee!, December 24, Minneapolis: Start out the Depot Tavern (free entry), and then head next door to the 7th Street Entry ($3 cover) for live music and DJs including Adam Levy, Mike 2600 King, Kids Like Us, and Rabbi Jon Davis and his Klezmer Orchestra. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition, Minnesotans United for All Families and Jewish Community Action. Visit the Indie Jews website for more information.

Ari’s Jewish Christmas, Riptide Cocktails, December 25, San Francisco: If all else fails and Christmas has still got you down, head to the bar and have a few. This event also comes with a roaring fire, Chinese food, and eggnog. 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; visit the event website for details.

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A Jewish Guide to Christmas 2011

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