Jewish Christmas traditions in Chinatown this year include protesting 76ers arena plans – The Morning Call

On Christmas Day, the streets of Chinatown were jammed with double-parked cars and the sidewalks crowded with crowds. Many of them are Jewish, making dim sum brunches and Peking duck dinners an annual holiday tradition.

But on Sunday, which was also the last night of Hanukkah, a group of Jewish faith leaders and members of the community gathered there for a different purpose. To protest what they call a “predatory” plan to build a new Philadelphia 76ers arena on 10th Avenue and Market Street. .

The group lit a menorah and sang Christmas carols to highlight concerns about the impact of the $1.3 billion 76 Place. It sits above SEPTA’s Jefferson Station and replaces part of the Fashion District Mall, consuming an entire city block and crossing Filbert Street. , devours the city’s Greyhound station and looms within half a block of Chinatown’s main entrance: the Friendship Gate on 10th Avenue and Arch Street.

“This is a community that has fought over a dozen battles over 50 years. And each time, this community has won,” said West Philadelphia resident Deborah Kodish. She wore a “no chazzers” pin (which she translated from Yiddish to “don’t be a pig”). “This is Center City’s last community of color and her one of the East Coast’s last vibrant Chinatowns. We must be prepared to fight for it.”

The group included longtime Chinatown residents, business owners and activists. While some Chinatown leaders have expressed cautious optimism about the proposal, the protesters are concerned about rent pressure, traffic jams, parking chaos, and ultimately the arena. He said there was widespread concern that he was afraid of the move that would accompany him.

What they said was an inadequate, opaque and deceptive community engagement process so far when implementing the Phillies Stadium proposed in 2000 and casino plans pitched by Foxwoods in 2008. and vowed to fend off Alina.

Michael Chang, who grew up in Washington’s Chinatown, said, “This arena is about to destroy Chinatown as a community.” After moving to Philadelphia, his family found an intact Chinatown where they could live, work, go to church and provide translation services to help new arrivals, he said. said.

Developer David J. Adelman previously told The Inquirer that the “new shining arena” that will open in 2031 will be Philadelphia’s “Madison Square Garden.”

The proposal also includes a $50 million community benefit contract to be distributed over 30 years.

But Zhang said the deal amounted to “gaslighting.”

Kodish said she joined after receiving a call from Asian American Coalition founder Debbie Wei.

Adelman had been honored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and Wei wanted to know if any member of the Jewish community would speak up. Kodish quickly assembled the group and called the arena project “shonda” in Yiddish.

“This is not just a Chinatown problem,” Wei said. “It’s about the community as a whole and what is our vision for the city.”

Kodish noted that the connection between the Jewish community and Chinatown is long-standing.

Chinese food has been an important part of American Jewish culture going back at least to the 1930s, and has played an important role, especially at Christmas. And for decades, Philadelphia’s Chinatown has had vegetarian restaurants advertising their food as kosher.

At Sunday’s protest, Rabbi Linda Holzman of the Tikun Olam Chavra community led the lighting of the menorah.

The organizers also brought a 4-foot-tall dreidel. Its four sides are inscribed in Hebrew with the words “Chinatown”, “Arena”, “Yiddish” and “Future”. According to organizers, each spin was meant to spark discussion. They urged passers-by to sign petitions and handed out postcards to be sent to city councilors to urge them to oppose the arena. .

Sam Sam, owner of Little Saigon Cafe and founder of a group called Concerned Citizens of Chinatown, said he appreciates the support and hopes more communities will rise up to oppose the arena proposal. There is

He doesn’t believe Chinatown can survive six years in a construction zone, let alone the repercussions after the arena goes live.

“These developers want to divide our community,” he said. But he believes the community is united in opposition.

(c)2022 Philadelphia Inquirer

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Jewish Christmas traditions in Chinatown this year include protesting 76ers arena plans – The Morning Call

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