The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘food’ tag

Rosh Hashana’s Sacred Bread Offers Meaning in Many Shapes and Sizes

The traditional challah for the upcoming Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashana, is round. But as this bakery demonstrates, other shapes offer symbolic meanings. Photo from Getty Images.

by Deena Prichep
from National Public Radio

Challah is a rich, eggy bread baked every week for the Jewish sabbath, or shabbat. But for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year that starts at sundown, it gets a few tweaks. There’s a little extra honey or sugar, for a sweet new year. And instead of the usual long braid, it’s round.

Mimi Wilhelm, who bakes challah for her family every week, teaches a challah-making class through Chabad Oregon. “The reason that we do the round challah, versus the braids, for Rosh Hashana, is because the year is round, it represents that idea. This looks like a crown, for crowning God as king on Rosh Hashana.”

But crowns and braids aren’t the only shapes around. Charles Levy grew up in Morocco and is now the president of Congregation Ahavath Achim, Portland’s Sephardic temple, which is largely made up of Jews of non-Eastern European descent. Growing up, he saw Rosh Hashana challahs in all sorts of forms. “Some of the people in Morocco will emulate animals, like a swan, or often you’ll have a head-like lion, lion of David. Or gdi, which is like a gazelle, a very fine and good-looking animal,” he says.

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September 24th, 2012 at 11:55 am

Experiencing the Hospitality of Sikhs

At the 2004 Parliament in Barcelona, Sikhs served food to all who were hungry, a service called langar. Photo by Rowan Fairgrove.

by Rev. Susan Baller-Shepard
from Huffington Post

Twenty-five years ago, I worked in Walsall, England, in the West Midlands, near Birmingham. Birmingham is a city known for many things, including having the largest Sikh gudwara outside of India.

In Walsall, in Caldmore (called “Karma”), I worked with countless Sikh families and experienced incredible hospitality from all of them. I was moved by the family cohesiveness and equality expressed within the Sikh families with whom I worked. I had never known any Sikh families before I met those in Walsall.

In 2004, while attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, the Sikh community at the Parliament hosted langar for thousands of us daily. We would enter a tent at lunch time, remove our shoes, put a covering on our heads and sit down with thousands of others to have a vegetarian meal. As a Presbyterian minister, I was struck by this hospitality to strangers. The Christian tradition speaks a great deal about hospitality, because Jesus was all about it: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

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World Malaria Day is April 25th

Rachel Finn and Nina Pine, Faiths Act Fellows for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation

by Nina Pine and Rachel Finn, Faiths Act Fellows for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation

While the two of us have been planning the San Francisco CROP Hunger Walk as our World Malaria Day Event, often we are asked the question, “Why are you supporting malaria prevention efforts at a hunger walk?  Isn’t that a conflict of interest?”

The fact of the matter is, however, that malaria and hunger are incredibly intertwined.  Just check out this video [] from one of our volunteers, who explains her own experience with malaria and why it’s such an important cause in the fight against extreme poverty as a whole.

Delivering food to a community in need is a noble act.  It is a life-saving act.  And yet unfortunately, it is not a sustainable act.  Extreme hunger worldwide is not caused by a lack of food, but rather, systemic social corruption and flawed distribution.  To change the narrative on hunger, we must change the systems of power and the societal structures in which communities live.  To do so is a daunting task, and incredibly complex.

Yet, one effective step we can tangibly make is on the issue of malaria.  Malaria is a disease of poverty – it has been eradicated in parts of the world with access to needed finances, such as here in California.  Malaria is both treatable and preventable.  And yet, a child still dies every 60 seconds from this deadly disease.  It is less a problem of complexity than a lack of resources.

Malaria prevention, elimination, and hopefully one day, eradication, are excellent goals in and of themselves. And yet, the ripple effect from treating it has far larger reaches.  It improves education, because children do not miss days of school due to severe illness.  It improves maternal health by significantly decreasing the number of deaths in pregnant women.  Perhaps most importantly, malaria elimination would drastically improve the situation of extreme hunger around the globe.  Individuals will not have to miss days of harvesting crops due to illness.  Families will not have to decide whether to spend their money on medicine for a sick child, or food for the rest.  Men, women, and children will have the strength they need to fight against the societal blockades keeping them impoverished.

We hope you’ll support us this World Malaria Day in taking a holistic approach to tackling extreme poverty, by recognizing the interconnectedness of problems around the world.  Please visit to learn more about our Walk and how to be a supporter.

Will you walk with us?

The Sacred Act of Eating: A Hindu Foodie’s Daily Ritual

From The Huffington Post

In my great grandmother’s house in Thanjavur, a small town in Tamil Nadu, every meal represented an elaborate ritual. Each night, she washed a fresh set of clothes for the next morning (always a colorful nine yards sari and its blouse) and hung them atop the highest clothing line on the balcony, to prevent anyone from inadvertently dirtying them. The following morning, she rose at 4:00 AM, while the rest of the house still slumbered, and took a bath to cleanse before cooking. Prior to touching any ingredients, she prayed, sitting in the main hall beside a faded wall covered with frame after frame of Hindu iconography. Only then would she start to prepare the meal.

When we sat down to eat, in a cross-legged row on the floor across from the prayer wall, the meal itself was systematic.

Click here to read entire article.

January 19th, 2011 at 7:49 am

Food and Faith: Reflections on the Holidays

From State of Formation

I thought I would burst! I stared with wide eyes as her hands came toward my mouth with a piece of bread the size of my fist, soaked in a honey-peanut butter mixture. As I opened my mouth to beg – “please, I can’t eat another bi-ghrrr…” – her small hand found its target and I did burst…with laughter.

Looking back I’m surprised that peanut butter didn’t come out of my nose. Watching her veiled head, and those of her co-conspirators, shaking with laughter, I wiped the sticky honey-peanut butter paste from my chin and grinned with shared delight.

In this small town not far from Kutahya Turkey generosity is measured in calories and our hosts insisted that we eat our fill – then eat another plate. Moments like this one, often revolving around a communal meal have more to do with faith than any proclamation of belief.

As I read, watch and listen to the growing number of reports about the ‘war on Christmas’ I am reminded of this experience. At the table together, I, my fellow American guests and our Turkish hosts were not Muslims, Christians or Atheists – we were fellow eaters, breathers, laughers, lovers, siblings, parents, spouses, etc…we were fellow humans. All this concern for labels and public recognition, from Atheists and Christians alike, obscures the cultural significance of the holiday season.

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December 23rd, 2010 at 4:00 pm

The Parliament of Actions: Securing Food and Water for All People

As we enter into the final days and hours before the Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, Australia, we would like to take some time to reflect on the work ahead.  The 2009 Parliament will be ripe with promise and we can best engage this opportunity by considering worthy responses to the challenges of the world today. We invite you to view this series of eight public service announcements in preparation for your Parliament experience.

Our second announcement opens with poignant quotes by W.H. Auden and Peter H. Gleick and moves on to examine a problem that has taken on new dimensions in the twentieth century:

Securing Food and Water for All People

Please watch the video below to learn about more the Parliament of the World’s Religions and the preservation and sharing of the Earth’s resources.

Announcing Our Parliament Video PSAs

What is the Parliament about? Quite simply, We Are All in This Together.  Which is why we’ve just published seven great public-service announcements in connection with our upcoming Parliament in Melbourne. In addition to the video I linked above, there are six others, each corresponding to the subthemes of this year’s event.

For an approach to the problem of Healing the Earth with Care and Concern and the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples, watch this video.

The subtheme of Overcoming Poverty in an Unequal World is an issue confronted in this video.

This video announcement addresses the question of Securing Food and Water for All People.

Does peace come about at the expense of justice or must one be present for the other?  The pressing dilemma of Building Peace in the Pursuit of Justice is pondered in this video PSA.

What is meant by “Creating Social Cohesion in Village and City?”  Find out in this video.

Finally, witness the process of Sharing Wisdom in the Search for Inner Peace in this video announcement.