Muslims and Jews demonstrate community cohesion on ‘Sadqa Day’

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LONDON: Prominent members of the London Muslim and Jewish communities chopped vegetables and bonded over cooking pots yesterday (18 March) to mark Sadaqa Day, a day of social action for the Muslim community.
The vats of food were then donated to the homeless via Sha’arei Tsedek Synagogue in Barnet, north London. Muslim Aid director Zac Hussain, Rabbi Mark Goldsmith of Alyth Synagogue, north London and Ahmed Al Kazemi and Razi Kadeh from north London’s Centre for Islamic Enlightening made mixed vegetable curry, lentil soup and apple crumble.
The chef was Sajeda Meghji, author of Chachi’s Kitchen.
The cooking took place in the kitchen at Jewish centre JW3 and was organised by Jewish charity Mitzvah Day, which involves eight faiths and thousands of volunteers in the UK and internationally. Amitzvah is a Jewish commandment to do a good deed.
While rubbing in fat and flour for the crumble’s topping, Zac Hussain said: “I’m very excited about opportunities for community and interfaith cohesion. We at Muslim Aid want to make sure that this is not just a one-off for Sadaqa Day, we want more partnerships to engage Muslims, J ewish people and wider society as part of a mutual journey about faith and community.” Rabbi Mark Goldsmith said: “This Sadaqa Day cooking enabled me to connect with the leadership of our local Islamic Centre in a much deeper way than I ever could in a committee meeting – over apple chopping! I also got to meet the senior leadership at Muslim Aid, and I enthusiastically welcome this charity’s intention to find ways of working with our community.”
Alyth Synagogue is one of the two largest synagogues in the UK. The cooking project’s organiser was Lady Daniela Pears, Mitzvah Day’s interfaith chair. She added: “It was such a joy to spend Sadaqa Day in partnership with Muslim Aid, cooking with friends of other faiths to support the Barnet night shelter.
We feel proud and privileged to do what we can to help and we are particularly excited about the friendships and partnerships that are made while cooking. We’ve had some informal but strategic conversations about how and when we can volunteer together in the future.” The three-course meal was poured into plastic tureens to be taken to Whetstone-based Sha’arei Tsedek synagogue and distributed to homeless people in north London. Rachel Sanis, a Sha’arei Tsedek volunteer, joined the cooking session.
“It’s a truly worthwhile experience cooking with people of other faiths and backgrounds. It made me think about the homeless and realise how fortunate we are to have a kitchen to cook in, warmth and food to eat.” Sadaqa Day founder Julie Siddiqi also founded Muslim Jewish women’s network Nisa Nashim with Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks OBE.
She launched Sadaqa Day in March 2015. “It’s so brilliant to see this happening as part of many more events around the country. These kinds of days are really where it’s at. Where friendships are built and where more planning for things in the future will happen. My sincere thanksto the Mitzvah Day team for doing such a brilliant job once again for Sadaqa Day,” added Julie Siddiqi.
For more information about the cooking project or about Muslim Aid’s interfaith and UK charitable work, please contact Beverley Cohen at beverley.cohen@muslimaid.org or on 07921 655272. Muslim Aid is a relief and development agency set up in the United Kingdom in 1985 to provide humanitarian assistance to disaster affected countries and to help poor and vulnerable communities overcome poverty. Muslim Aid works with all communities irrespective of faith.