Differences of faith may separate peoples, but food is the common tie that transcends faith, binding us all into the community of man.
Christians, Jews and Muslims have faiths that are founded in the Old Testament and on principles of peace. Despite that, since Abraham’s time, dissension, disagreement and even war have been the unfortunate hallmarks of intense faith and ideological practice. Yet despite all our differences, our faiths have many similarities and oddly, in the foods we eat in our holiday celebrations.
For example, in Judaism, Hanukkah is often celebrated with a cooked goose. So too is Christmas and much to our great surprise, they are cooked in almost identical ways. Pictured here, a roast goose looks the same on a Christian or a Jewish holiday table, and tastes as good. For the unfortunate bird, it comes of age just in time for the holiday season, so farmers from Egypt to Scandinavia have found them the perfect choice for the winter celebrations.
Jews enjoy Charoset, a combination of preserved fruits and nuts, very similar to foods eaten by Muslims, as Christians add nuts and candied and glaceed fruits to fruitcake and pastries. The commonalities are far greater than the differences, which is what we should always remember when thinking of those outside our own faith.
At the Passover holiday, Matzoh, an unleavened flat bread is made, but in some areas of the world, Jews use a softer unleavened flatbread, similar to breads made in northern African countries like Morocco and Egypt. At the same time of year, Christians celebrate the Last Supper with creations of bread of varying styles and nature from Russia to South America, while Catholics in particular, take a Communion wafer that like matzoh, is flat and unleavened as part of the religious observance on the Sabbath.
There are hundreds of foods that cross over from one faith to another and many of these have simple roots in the things that we all share. Shouldn’t we focus our attention on those things, break bread and rediscover what our ancestors knew to be our common interests, rather than fighting or spending our time in disagreement?
The best means of resolving disputes is to bring people to the table and to share their common interests through the meal. It is an ancient method of diplomacy, and it works.
As Hanukkah and Christmas are celebrated in the upcoming days, let us remember that all of us have many common roots, and celebrate those in shared plates of food.