Soul Feasts

Submitted by Joyce Hollyday on April 5, 2011 - 5:08pm
Dishing Up Diversity and Difference

I’ve been waking up this week to radio reports about riots in Afghanistan, and new rounds of attacks by suicide bombers, leaving scores of people wounded or dead. I’ve known for a long time that we’re all part of a global community. But, still, I was a bit stunned to discover that one reprehensible act by a misguided Christian pastor in Florida, who torched a holy Quran of Islam last month, sparked this mayhem.

I’ve thought frequently this week of my friend Khawlah, a Palestinian Muslim whose family owns arguably the best and most exotic restaurant in my city. She has introduced me to the discipline of Ramadan fasting, and also to the wonders of Middle Eastern feasting. My palate has been pleased on several occasions by Khawlah’s lavish spreads of homemade hummus and tabouleh, baba ganoush and baklava, when she has hosted a small circle of women who call ourselves the “Interfaith Sisters.”

Barbara, the Jew in our little group, has led us through a Passover Seder. Lighting candles and proclaiming blessings, she enlightened us to the rich symbols of her faith: the horseradish and saltwater representing the bitterness and tears of slavery; the charoset, made of apples and cinnamon, walnuts and wine, which symbolizes the mortar the ancient Jews used in making bricks for the oppressive Pharaoh of Egypt; the matzah, unleavened bread to represent the staple baked by Jews on the run, fleeing to freedom before their bread had time to rise; the parsley and hard-boiled eggs, signs of spring and rebirth.

When we all get together, my friend Susan and I do our best to represent the marvels and mysteries of our Christian tradition. But it’s difficult in this world where so much attention is paid to those who misuse the faith to exclude and dismiss, rather than those of us who claim the compassion, justice, and welcome that are at the heart of our belief.

We live in a global community of great diversity. And sometimes we’re fortunate enough to have a slice of that diversity in our own local spaces, and even at our dinner tables. I’m not naïve enough to believe that we can overcome all the barriers that separate us and usher in world peace simply by eating at one another’s tables. But it’s a start.


A start

Hi Joyce,

Eating together is definitely a start. The meals you share with this group of women sound beautiful and educational. Sharing food, customs and traditions is such a simple, yet joyous thing. Even people of shared faith -- or no specific religion or faith -- can cultivate a deeper understanding of each other through this type of discussion and celebration. Lovely.

Thank you, Joanne. I hope

Thank you, Joanne. I hope that you have found similar feasts for your palate and your soul.