ABSTRACT

This chapter examines the historical origins and chronological developments that helped make Chinese food and Chinese restaurants probably the “most Jewish” of the “non-Jewish” foods in Jewish American culture. The foundation rests in first- and second-generation Eastern European immigrants traveling from the American Jewish epicenter in the Lower East Side neighborhood in New York City, which was practically next door to Chinatown. Major religious communities include those who identify as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. The center of the Jewish community in New York was on the Lower East Side, right next to Chinatown. Many were cosmopolitan, educated, and not very observant of strict religious code, but rather swept up in the capitalist Enlightenment Age central European movements. Simply ordering from the extensive menus offered a chance for debate, disagreement, and eventual submission to suggestions from the collective group, a hallmark practice of Jewish religious study.