Jewish/Asian fusion . . . more questions than answers

My March 4th  post about the Jewish/Asian connection produced 100’s of inquiring emails and exploring minds. Or is it inquiring minds and exploring emails?

While some commented on my blog here, I received more emails and responses from other blogs. Most everyone pointed to several common themes:

  • No one seems to know the why and what about Jewish men and Asian women.
  • There’s no “proof” or “evidence” of the affinity, but many acknowledge it exists.
  • Some people are rankled by the topic. Some downright furious; not with my post, but with the relationship between Jews and Asians in general. I’ll leave this alone because these people always turned their fury into comments based on sexism, racism or anti-Semitism. They don’t deserve my attention, or your time.

But what does earn some interesting attention is the Asian/Jewish food fusion. I’d rather take the connection past the romantic links — since it is what it is, and just exists and who knows why — and elevate the union to something we all know about. Food! fortune-cookie

Specifically, Chinese food and Jews. Or the Chinese and Jewish foods. Now we’re talking “mutty” hybrid action!

This interesting Los Angeles Times article by Ching-Ching Ni shows us something that few know about: China is now the world’s fastest-growing producer of kosher-certified food. More than 500 Chinese factories produce the approved products. So the Chinese have gone Kosher!

My kids know some about that, though, Chinese girls in a Jewish day school. Mutty? Sort of, but then look who they have for a mother. It’s got to be challenging having a mutt for a mother.

You’d be surprised at how many of my daughters’ friends thought we knew Yao Ming when we first attended their school (not that I wouldn’t want to, but yikes…I’m just 5’3″; I’d need a megaphone to talk to the guy.) It was cute: the schoolmates were curious, we were wondering and juggling how to fit in, and in the end, it all worked out. In fact, we’re all the better for the mixities of this particular Asian/Jewish connection.

But knowing Yao Ming? All Chinese know each other, right? And every Jew is related? Yeah, right. Well, the way I look at it, when everything is stripped away, everyone is from one tribe anyway.

Back to the kosher, just to clarify, keeping kosher is following the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut, a way to elevate the act of eating from mundance to holy.

Even Jennifer 8. Lee, in her book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles attests to this intriguing phenomenon of Jews/Chinese and added to that, the food connection.

The Jewish Buddhist dialogue is interesting too. Sylvia Boorstein speaks to the spiritual ties in her book, That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist.

But back to the dating and relationships. If food is really the way to a man’s … and a woman’s heart, then does that offer an answer to my original curiosity on my earlier post about Jewish men/Asian women? Is food the answer to, “What’s with the Jewish man/Asian woman thing?”

I think it’s much more complex. But for now, I like explaining it with the food connection. I’m not the only one thinking this. Genghis Cohen restaurant in New York and Los Angeles is proof that I’m not making this up. The name says it all.


Think . . .

  • Vegetable fried knish (skip pork fried)
  • Sweet and sour matzo ball soup
  • Chopped liver with bean sprouts
  • Teriyaki gefilte fish
  • Pan fried luxion kugel (with cherry sauce)

Not that these are necessarily on their menu, but they’re fun, and in my imagination.

Have any more mutty yummy Jewish Chinese food combos? What about Japanese Jewish food? Drop a comment here.

Thought for the day: If it feels like just when you’ve learned all the answers, someone changed all the questions…you’re right! The axiom, “the more we know, the more we know we don’t know” is true. Live in the question, and don’t get too stubborn about your answers. Sometimes questions are the answers.

55 thoughts on “Jewish/Asian fusion . . . more questions than answers

  1. Jay

    Great piece, Deborah! I can relate to the mutt relationship. I’m so WASPy and am married to a Jewish man. I definitely observe the Asian/Jewish connection in my husband. All the Jews in his native South Africa flock to Asian restaurants, without exception. Chinese restaurants stay open during all holidays, so when Christians celebrate Christmas, the Jews can go to a Chinese restaurant and eat in peace. And speaking of food, just made a great Jewish recipe with chicken, linguine, rosemary, paprika, pine nuts, currants, and lots of salt and pepper. Roast the chicken smothered in oil and the spices first, cut up into bit-sized chunks and add to the pasta, seasoning to taste. Throw fresh parsley over all and you have a simple feast.

  2. Mike

    Huh? I thought it was an (any white guy)-(any asian woman) thing because the guys think they’re exotic and docile, and the girls want to piss of their overbearing parents. I don’t think it’s a particularly Jewish phenomenon.

    asian-white mutt. not going to be more specific.

  3. Marcee

    Hi Deborah Stein!

    Does anyone call you Deb or Debbie? Wondering.

    Love how you speak, think and write.

    Honest and truthful life-situations that you discuss, are magical to me. I see them as “feelings.” Like being in THAT same place with you. Suffering too. Perhaps many of us have also been in a similar predicaments. Awful and unfair things happen to all of us. Myself included.

    Well, I cannot imagine a young girl’s (8-12 is very young and innocent to me) capability to learn what you “found” at 11 years old. I was shocked reading the story.

    Did you maybe think …. just for a few minutes …. to talk with someone? A person whom you trusted and loved. You certainly did nothing wrong Deborah. More than difficult to understand at that age.

    Gee. I feel awful for your pain …. also the fear you suffered for so many years. When the timing was okay ….. did your parents ever attempt to console you? All the feelings you had in your heart? I hope so.

    I am Jewish also. From what you write, it seems as if your religion played a more positive role in your life than it did mine. For sure ….. you are much smarter and more intelligent than this jewish female!

    Looking forward to future posts Deborah. One day I plan to purchase your book.

  4. Deborah Jiang Stein Post author

    Hi Marcee, thanks for your comment! You’ll have to read the book and find out about any redemption and reconciliation and all the rest. I can’t spoil the story :) Check with your library, or email me and I’ll see.

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