Food and Food Traditions: 15th
Israeli-Palestinian Retreat of Interfaith Encounter ~ 22-23 March 2007:
After being postponed four times due to different reality constrains, the
15th Israeli-Palestinian retreat of interfaith encounter, jointly organized
by the Interfaith Encounter Association and the Hope Flowers School, finally
took place in the beautiful guest house of the Austrian Hospice, at the
heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, on 22-23 March.
This time too faced challenges. Starting seemed promising when all
Palestinians who applied for permits got them very quickly. But when they
came to collect them, on the morning of the retreat, a computer failure
caused that only a handful of them were able to actually get the permits.
After dozens of phone calls it became clear that we will not be able to
improve the situation and that most of the Palestinian participants –
including the Muslim speaker – will not be able to make it to the retreat.
Hesitation was short and we agreed that holding a small-scale retreat is
better than not holding it at all. For the sake of perfect equality we
cancelled the Jewish speaker.
And we never regretted our decision. The resulting retreat was a very
intimate one, with one small conversation group of Jews, Muslims and
Christians having one of the best conversations about food and food
traditions – mainly in Judaism and Islam as the conversation was so vivid
that we hardly managed to touch on Christianity.
Some points that were discussed:
- In Islam all animals and birds are allowed to be eaten, except those who
eat other animals. In Judaism the rules of eatable animals make the list
narrower while eatable birds are only those who appear in the explicit list;
- In Judaism (as well as in Shiite Islam) only fish that have fins and
scales can be eaten. In Sunni Islam everything that comes out of the sea can
- In Islam alcohol is strictly forbidden, out of the fear that people will
pray drunk. In Judaism a drunk also can not pray but alcohol is not
forbidden and in some occasions (Purim, Pesach, sanctifying the Shabbat)
drinking of wine is even recommended.
Each point led to many other associated issues such as faith, reasoning,
interpretations traditions and more.
We concluded the retreat with a lot of satisfaction and hopes that in the
next one we will be able to take enough prior steps so that we ensure
participation of all who wish to do so.
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