Food brings Jews and Muslims together at Interfaith Roundtable

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Published: Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 9:02 p.m. MST
By Molly Farmer, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY β€” Alan Bachman hopes the scene of local Jews and Muslims literally breaking bread Sunday will be a type for other gatherings the world over.

“The Jewish and Muslim communities here have always had a great relationship,” Bachman said. “Hopefully, this is a microcosm for the world.”

The feast was part of a month-long event put on by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable β€” which Bachman chairs β€” to promote “love, harmony and understanding among all faith traditions.” More than 20 events will be held at places of worship throughout the valley to encourage increased religious understanding among the state’s many faiths.

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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Jews and Muslims come together to make traditional cuisine as part of the Interfaith Roundtable at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012.
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The Jewish Congregation Kol Ami and the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake were the honored guests at Sunday’s cooking tutorial and tasting. The food, which was prepared in line with both Kosher and Halal dietary laws, was meant to symbolize the similarities between the two cultures and faiths.

“We are more the same than different,” said Sharifa Kudiya, a Muslim native of Pakistan who has been in Utah for 27 years. “The human nature is the same everywhere.”

Kudiya, who lives in Draper, made halva, a paste dessert that includes cream of wheat, saffron and coriander.

The halva was eaten alongside honey cakes made by Karen McArthur of Kol Ami.

“Food tends to bring people together,” McArthur said.

Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman welcomed everyone to her house of worship, saying food, especially in Jewish tradition, encourages understanding and unity in times of sorrow and joy.

“The people that you eat with are the people that you share your life with,” she said. “There is so much strife in the world…We’re trying to find commonality.”

The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable was created 10 years ago in anticipation of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Interfaith Week served as a time of prayerful reflection in preparation for welcoming the world to Salt Lake City and returns every February on the anniversary of the Games. It has now expanded to a month-long celebration.

This year’s event will conclude Feb. 26, with the annual Interfaith Music Tribute at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. It will feature song, dance, scripture, and prayers by Buddhist, Celtic tradition, Christian Bell Ringers, Christian Gospel Choir, Hindus, Jews, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, Presbyterians, Sikhs, Thai Buddhist, and Unitarians.

For a complete list of events, visit

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Twitter: mollyfarmer