On June 8, my organization, Sephardic Jews in DC, partnered with Noor Shakfeh, a Syrian American community organizer, and Char Bar to bring the Muslim and Jewish communities together over a delicious iftar meal.
Ramadan is one of the holiest holidays for those of the Muslim faith, celebrating the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed. The holiday is one month long and takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar year. During the holiday, many Muslims traditionally fast from dawn to sunset. In the Washington, D.C. area, this means many Muslims are fasting for 16 hours a day, and the evening meal breaking the fast, called an iftar, is a holy and a very celebratory occasion.
The interfaith iftar brought together close to 70 Muslim and Jewish people to celebrate the holiday together. For me, the celebration was both a social and learning experience. I got a chance to meet so many interesting people and learn about the holiday rituals and traditions first hand.
For Shakfeh, hosting the iftar meal at Char Bar was a critical component. As a friend to many practicing and traditional Jews and Muslims, she wanted to ensure the event was as inclusive as possible to allow both those who keep kosher and halal to attend.
The event was also a fantastic opportunity for Char Bar and the catering company “Gold Standard Catering” to showcase their delicious traditional dishes from Arab/Sephardic/Mizrahi and Ashkenazi communities.
Both Shakfeh and I worked closely with Char Bar to craft a menu that would incorporate food from both the Middle East (to celebrate Arab and Sephardic cuisine), as well as traditional Ashkenazi food, like matzah ball soup and brisket.
As guests entered Char Bar, they were greeted with sweet Medjool dates and ice cold water, which are traditional Ramadan foods to break the fast. We then sat down to a delicious buffet meal together and got a chance to engage with each other one-on-one and meet new community members. Overall, the celebration was a great success and a wonderful opportunity to engage with members of the Muslim and Jewish communities.
Sephardic Jews in DC would like to again thank Noor Shakfeh for allowing us to cohost and Char Bar restaurant.
To all those celebrating, Ramadan Kareem!
By Jackie Feldman
Jackie Feldman is a young professional living and working in Washington, D.C. She runs the group “Sephardic Jews in DC,” which hosts events in the metro DC area that celebrate Sephardic culture, religious tradition, and customs. She also has her own food blog that features a healthier spin on many traditional Jewish and Sephardic recipes: https://healthysephardiccooking.wordpress.com/.