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Muslim and Jewish chefs will work side by side next week to whip up a religious-themed feast as a symbol of mutual friendship and awareness.
There will be matzo, signifying the hurried Jewish flight from Egypt, and chana chaat, traditionally eaten to break the daily fasts of Islam's Ramadan. Add to that honey cake, served during Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and halva, a nut-butter sweet used in Muslim and Jewish cuisines.
The event, "Cooking Together," is co-sponsored by the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake and Congregation Kol Ami as an effort to build bridges of understanding. It is part of February's Interfaith Month, which features many religious gatherings and events.
"There is so much controversy that gets built up between people, especially these two groups," says Kol Ami Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman. "We want to mitigate that by bringing people together at their basic level, which is their need to eat. It's a way to recognize our common humanity."
So many of these recipes have been tenderly passed down from one generation to the next, she says. "Sharing them is about sharing love with each other."
It is the second event for these faith groups.
Last October, the two met at the synagogue during Sukkot, a Jewish holiday that emphasizes hospitality and welcoming strangers to their homes. Participants sat under or near the sukkah, an outdoor structure that is meant to symbolize the temporary huts where Jews lived during their Exodus from Egypt.
The rabbi and imam set the example for the gathered Jews and Muslims by dining, talking and learning from one another. There was a scavenger hunt, singing and games for Muslim and Jewish children, while the adults toured the synagogue's sanctuary and listened to an introduction about Islam.
Schwartzman looks forward to another convivial occasion, she says, and is eager to learn more about Muslim dishes.
"I couldn't get over the curry from last time," she says. "It adds a different flavor on a lot of food."
Schwartzman is thrilled to get even more "flavorful" recipes. After all, she says,"a little spice is a good thing."
When • Sunday, Feb. 5, 2 to 4 p.m.
Where • Congregation Kol Ami, 2425 Heritage Way, Salt Lake City
What • Demonstrations, recipes and tastings
How much • Free and open to the public during Interfaith Month.