It takes a special location and a special group of people to pull this off. We were about 300 for the service, and 150 for the vegetarian brunch. Everyone was asked to bring an appetizer or dessert. I made some peace cookies, that tasted pretty good, and labeled them:
“Gluten-free, dairy (I used milk, not soymilk as recommended), not too sweet, low cholesterol, from a house that is not STRICTLY kashrut (kosher,כַּשְׁרוּת,كشروت)”. The fridge and utensils are not separate for meat and cheese.
I try not to eat too much meat in my daily life, and I generally separate meat from cheese if I do eat meat (this mitzvot comes from the injunction in Torah to “not boil a kid goat in its mother’s milk”. Exodus 23:19)
רֵאשִׁית בִּכּוּרֵי אַדְמָתְךָ תָּבִיא בֵּית יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא-תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי בַּחֲלֵב אִמֹּו׃ ס
While the mitzvot (מְחֻיָּבוּת) can be interpreted literally, and also ritually, on a deeper level, the saying can also be interpreted to mean “don’t harm a dependent being with what it, by instinct, will trust the most”. It’s a nice thought.
There were both Sunni and Shia muslims at the tables, and I spoke with people from various countries: Pakistan, Japan, and Sri Lanka.
كما تحدثت مع امرأة من سري لانكا، أنا ناضلت من الصعب أن نتذكر اسم صديقي القديم منذ سنوات عديدة الذي كان طالب هندسة مدنية من سري لانكا. يوم واحد في وقت لاحق، تذكرت أخيرا. وقال انه يدعو لي أكثر للعشاء السري لانكية المطبوخ في طنجرة الأرز (الأداة المساعدة لديه الطبخ فقط) في غرفته في الطابق الثالث. لو كنا نعرف بعضنا البعض عندما كان هناك حرب أهلية لا تزال بين التاميل والسنهاليين و. أبلغ لي امرأة أن انتهت الآن هذه. يجب أن تشمل الكيماويات الذاكرة قابلة للزيادة طوعا في الدماغ مع الجهد. كيف أتذكر شيئا اليوم، وأنني لا يمكن أن نتذكر بالأمس؟
The text in the service had been about Zipporah – the Imam and the Rabbi quietly comparing notes to make sure she had the same name in both the Qu’ran and the Torah. The Rabbi had noted that although the story was essentially the same in both texts, there was a shift in the order of events.
Later at the tables, we had talked about the differences in the story of Noah in the context of the importance and meaning of animals to God and man. In the Qu’ran, during the flood, people are lured from the mountaintop into the valley to drown by the sound of music played by the devil. Hence, the prohibition against secular music in many Islamic cultures (some classical music is ok). I searched my memory for the many Islamic friends I had known growing up. I know that we all listened to music together (Rolling Stones, Genesis, and others) in spite of the fact that many of them were quite religious, and some even dogmatically so. I enjoy listening to Warda, who comes from quite a unique blend of Western and Middle-Eastern backgrounds.
During the service, an offering was taken for a Habitat for Humanity interfaith house in the county. I donated, because this is a community that can peacefully tolerate such a house (byt, بيت ; bayit, בַּיִת ). I have given some hours of volunteer work to Habitat. They strive for environmental consciousness in their building efforts. I don’t always exactly agree with all of their positions on everything. They tend to condemn housing situations that I find workable, if not rebuildable, in favor of new buildings that people build for themselves with others under paid supervision, incurring debt and obligation in the process. Still, it is a community effort, and an educational effort, and there is a green and “socially integrative” component to their effort. At the end of the meal, many Thanksgiving baskets of food were packed by the guests to be delivered to those in need.
One of the things that I love about Hebrew is that you can go almost anywhere in the world, and find communities where it is spoken. Even in Iran (youtube) and Taiwan (יש לי חבר שהלך לבית ספר בעברית טייוואן).