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Have you ever wondered why Jews love Chinese food so much?


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No, but what prompted that? Did you take in Chinese food this weekend? Or, did President Biden signing the anti-Asian hate crimes bill make you think about how Jews can relate given all the antisemitism in the world?


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Only you would connect those dots. I was straightening up papers in the kitchen and noticed how Chinese takeout menus look the same as they did when we were kids, and how we've laughed over the decades about how much Jews love Chinese food. But now you've reminded me about how we've recently talked about the recent increase in hate crimes against the Asian community. I simply don't understand how people can hate an entire group of people based on race or religion.


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You are the history lover. It is not a new phenomenon. And, the reasons have not changed – Ignorance, prejudice, feelings of supremacy; the list has many "reasons". What I find scary is that people form stronger bonds with others based on what they hate than they do on what they love. But, there is no question that the Asian community and Jews have experienced hate for a long time.


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I know, but in America of all places, that just shouldn't happen. Ever. We're a country built on immigrants, and the contributions of Asian Americans and American Jews have been so significant. From scientists to doctors, artists to activists, the list goes on and on.


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The lists of contributions can be sliced and diced in so many different ways – gender, race, religion, nationalities. There are not enough months in the years to celebrate them all. However, some groups tend to be forgotten or overlooked, which is why President Carter signed the first proclamation celebrating Asian/Pacific Americans, which eventually led to May becoming Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. But now, with hate crimes increasing against them, celebrating by learning about their cultures is even more critical.


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Well, I admit that I personally didn't know any Asians before I lived in Hong Kong, and then Shanghai, several years after getting married. Until then, all I knew was that I loved Chinese food. I know that might sound condescending, but that's not how I mean it.


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No, it sounds like you just did not have any personal experience except for enjoying the food. And, except for dating Raman Sehgal, who was from India, when I was a graduate student at NYU, my experience before moving to Houston was basically the same as yours.


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Sorry, but I can't keep track of everyone you've dated. Anyway, I learned so much about the people and their culture when living in Asia. It made me realize just what a young country America is and how many countries have so many more centuries of history than we do. And there I was the outsider, and although I might have been seen to be different, I was never disrespected in the way Asians are treated here.


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A redhead in Asia. I bet you stood out like a sore thumb. Which is the problem they face here. Identifying Jews is a little more challenging, but that does not stop antisemitism. There was a very interesting article that interviewed Asian American Jewish leaders, asking them to share their experiences.


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I never thought about being Asian and Jewish! But that explains the Chinese Kosher restaurant in Queens I used to go to when I was a teenager. I couldn't figure out why there was such a thing, but the food was so delicious I never gave it any more thought. Until now, when I realize Asian Jews must have run it.


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I appreciate that food, and people, get "Americanized" over here, but what did you think about authentic Chinese food?


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It's very different from American Chinese food, but both are delicious! They each have their own unique characteristics and flavors, and although very different, I appreciate them both, and there will always be a place for each in my culinary world!


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Just as there should be a place for "different" people …
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, it’s our first column of the year. A new beginning. Any “new” ideas for topics? Something other than New Year’s resolutions.


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Is there a reason you do not want to talk about resolutions?


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Obviously, yours was not to ask fewer questions.


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That will never happen, but you are avoiding the question. Why?


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Because every year, I have a long list of things I want to do, and I start strong, but within a few months, I fall back into old habits. Sometimes it only takes weeks. It’s frustrating and disappointing.


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Next question. What is the opposite of “old?"
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December’s so festive and full of magic, but it’s also about appreciating family and friends and those lives we’ve been lucky enough to be a part of and, hopefully, touched in a positive way. Which is something we often pay lip service to, because as much as we truly believe it, life has a way of going by in a blur, and before you know it, another year comes to an end.

This seemingly obvious observation became more than just words a few short, or so it seems, weeks ago when Black and I lost our mom. She had lived a full 94 years, but when the time came, it came quicker than expected, which was a blessing for her but difficult for those she left behind. And while Black and I each had a very different relationship with our mom, it has been a challenging time in many ways.

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As we welcome 2022 … we wish a happy and healthy New Year to you!