Can you come up with 25 Jewish – or even not so Jewish – things to do on December 25? It’s a Very Big Holiday, and while it seems as if everything is closed, there are plenty of things to do in the area. Here’s a head start.
1. Eat Chinese Food
Why, pray tell, have egg rolls and General Tso’s Chicken become the culinary de rigueur for the day? One historical but most likely apocryphal reason is that decades ago, when everything else was shuttered, Chinese restaurants were open on Christmas Day. These days, Teaneck’s own Chopstix is busy preparing for the surge. The kosher Chinese restaurant already has been taking orders two weeks before Christmas, said Elie Y. Katz, co-owner of Chopstix. “Yeah, it’s really gotten busy in the last couple of years,” Mr. Katz said. “It’s become a holiday within a holiday. We’re ready.” Chopstix, 172 W. Englewood Ave., Teaneck (201) 833-0200.
2. See a Movie
Catch a film at the newly refurbished and renamed Teaneck Cinemas on Cedar Lane, which announced, via Facebook, a Friday, December 20 opening, with features including “Anchorman 2,” “Frozen,” and “Saving Mr. Banks”? Looking For a December 25 release? Check local listings for “47 Ronin” with Keanu Reeves, “The Wolf of Wall Street” by Martin Scorsese and with Leonard DiCaprio, “Grudge Match” with Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” with Ben Stiller, “August: Osage County” with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, “Labor Day” with Kate Winslet, the documentary “Justin Bieber’s Believe,” and “Walking With Dinosaurs 3D.” Or, if you don’t want to venture out, just chill at home with your choice of Netflix. Teaneck Cinemas, 503 Cedar Lane, Teaneck.
3. Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble
He’s the sudsy spectacular bubble artist Casey Carle, who can do with a little bit of Palmolive, or whatever he uses, what very few people can. Some of the bubble sculptures he makes are so big that he’s captured audience members from within. The Bubble Mania show is a delight for anyone between 5 and 95. The show runs from 11 to 11:45 a.m., followed by lunch until 12:30 p.m. Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 E. Clinton Ave, Tenafly. Cost is $45 for JCC member families; $55 nonmember families, including up to two adults and two children. $15/$19 for individuals. (201) 408-1467, or email: email@example.com .
4. Family Day at the Bergen YJCC
Can’t get to Israel by plane? Heck, take the car. Head over to the YJCC in Washington Township for a community to “visit Eretz Yisrael” from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The free family day activities include a PJ Library-sponsored presentation by Mainstages, in which an Israel-themed book will be brought to life at 10 a.m. Visitors should bring a can a food to be donated to a local food pantry. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., children older than 3 can “climb” Masada. From 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., they can create sand art or rainbow loom. There are also group fitness classes for teens and adults and Israeli dancing. Float in the “Kinneret” – the pools. There will be an opportunity to write a prayer for the “Kotel” and participate in a Maccabi-style track run. Israeli-style snacks will be available for purchase. At 11 a.m., an Israeli documentary, “Life in Stills” will be shown. YJCC, 605 Pascack Road, Washington Township. (201) 666-6610.
5. Single Mingle
New Jersey Jewish Singles 45+ meets at Clearview Caldwell Cinema 4, at 3 p.m. 317 Bloomfield Ave. 973-226-3600 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Get a head start and meet and greet with other singles on December 24 at the highly anticipated MatzoBall, one of the biggest matchmaking single events for 21 to 49 year olds. Sponsored by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals and JDate, the New Jersey MatzoBall is at Mister East, 2401 Wood Ave., Roselle. (908) 241-8395. For information, www.matzoball.org.
6. Art Attack
Dena Levie, a paper-cutting artist from Teaneck, will be featured at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn as part of “Artists in Action.” The Crown Heights museum is hosting a 10-day art event for youngsters from December 22 to January 1, where children can experiment with the ancient Japanese marbling art Suminagashi and learn stained glass techniques. On December 25, the museum offers extended hours. The Jewish Children’s Museum, 792 Eastern Parkway. (718) 467-0600, www.jcm.museum.
7. Gospel Great
Head into downtown Manhattan to listen to the “Prince of Kosher Gospel Music,” aka Joshua Nelson, who will perform at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Nelson and his Kosher Gospel Choir will perform his signature fusion of Hebrew tunes, done gospel style, and sign CDs in the lobby after the concerts. 36 Battery Place. (646) 437-4202, www.mjhnyc.org.
8. Family Concert at the Jewish Museum
The Macaroons will perform two family concerts at the Jewish Museum at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Families can enjoy a guitar-based sound that recalls everything from the Kinks to Queen to the Shins. Songs include “Hurry Up,” “Light the Candle,” “Mezuzah,” and “Billy the Bagel.” The museum is open for all its exhibitions, including Chagall: Love, War & Exile and Art Spiegelman’s retrospective, Co-Mix, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., Manhattan. (212) 423-3200, www.thejewishmuseum.org.
9. Music by the Maccabeats
That once Yeshiva University group of a capella heartthrobs, the Maccabeats, will take the stage at BBKing Blues Club & Grill for a special performance. Showtime at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance; $40 day of the show. BBKing Blues Club & Grill 237 West 42 St., Manhattan. (212) 997-4144, www.bbkingblues.com.
10. Jewmongous Concert
Ex-Rockapella star Sean Altman’s comedy song concert has been called sharply witty and relentlessly clever. Altman, who writes acoustic rock songs about his Jewish awakening, has been dubbed part of the new breed of Jewish hipster comedians, a list that includes Jon Stewart and Sarah Silverman. His classic Passover ditty, “They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat)” has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air. Mr. Altman plays at 8 p.m. at The Cutting Room, 44 E. 32 St., Manhattan. (212) 691-1900, www.thecuttingroomnyc.com.
11. Cook Jewish
You can get into the kitchen and scramble up some eggs or make chicken soup, or you can get your children involved in a soup and serve experience. Check out “Kids Cooking Made Easy” by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek (Mesorah Publications) for all kinds of delicious dishes, from panini wraps to hot dog garlic knots to homemade button candy. You won’t be bored – or hungry.
12. Work, Work, Work
For most, it’s a day off. But for many workers, like those in the 24/7 services, it’s another workday. You can fill in for a colleague who needs the day off to spend with his or her family. Or you can enjoy the workaday with a backdrop that is a little more low-key.
13. Learn, Learn, Learn
Pick up a Jewish book, or any book for that matter, and spend some time expanding your mind. Try a digital fast, at least for a few hours, and do some old-fashioned learning. Check out the local synagogues for any learning programs or classes that may be hold that day.
14. Do Good
Chesed is the name of the Christmas Day game. Why not see if there is a soup kitchen or nursing home in your area that you can visit to brighten the day of those who are less fortunate? What a gift it is to be able to bring cheer to others.