I am on vacation this week, so instead of a sermon, I wanted to share Hospitality Guidelines for Interfaith Events. Rabbi Elana Zeloney of Congregation Beth Torah and I worked on this together as part of the Richardson Interfaith Alliance. Our community leaders needed a resource to ensure an inclusive welcome to all the people of Richardson at community events. This guideline includes local restaurants and stores that provide Kosher or Halal food. I left these local resources in this post as a reminder for you to replace them with your own local sources.
Hospitality Guidelines for Interfaith Events
Richardson Interfaith Alliance
It’s wonderful that we live in a diverse, inclusive community with many different religions and cultures represented. One of the ways to include guests whose faith regulates what they eat is to take their dietary needs into consideration when serving a communal meal. It can be awkward for guests to turn down food that is offered, or to provide food for themselves in a communal setting.
Food Considerations: The best way to include people whose traditions exclude particular foods is to ask them what would enable them to eat with the group. We have listed some ideas for your consideration below, but the best way to insure you serve foods your guests can eat is to ask them about their needs.
Meat: Meat, poultry and fish can be a problem for observant Jews, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Hindus and 7th Day Adventists. Meat and poultry can also be a problem for some Christians during the season of Lent. If you serve meat try to provide an equally attractive vegetarian option. You might consider, quiche, meatless lasagna, veggie burgers or a stew made from beans.
Alcohol: Observant Muslims, Mormons and Baptists avoid alcohol. Some may even include vanilla among foods they won’t eat. Avoid putting alcohol in sauces or desserts. If you provide alcohol as a beverage consider serving an appealing non-alcoholic beverage in addition. Suggestions include sparkling cider or grape juice.
Grape Products: Traditional Jews only eat grape products that are under rabbinic supervision. This includes grape juice, wine, vinegar, salad dressings, pickles and ketchup. We suggest looking on the Internet to see which brands are under rabbinic supervision. Many of these products have a hechsher symbol (at right) on the package and can be found in most grocery stores.
Gelatin: Gelatin is produced from bones and hooves. This means that people who avoid meat or certain types of meat may not eat gelatin. Common products that contain gelatin are marshmallows, pudding, frosting, ice cream, candy and sometimes yogurt.
Natural Flavors and Coloring: These dyes and flavors are sometimes derived from animals. For example, cochineal/carmine is a red dye produced from crushed beetles. It is found in alcoholic beverages, jellies, puddings and candies.
Labeling: If you label each dish with its ingredients your guests will be able to tell what the dish contains and determine whether or not they are comfortable eating it. This is also helpful for people who have allergies (dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat/gluten, and soy are the most common).
Grace: Another element of your meal to take into consideration is saying grace, or a prayer before the meal. While many cultures take a moment of gratitude before eating, we do it in different ways. When the prayer before meals is led in the tradition of one faith tradition, it may make others feel excluded. Consider a moment of silence before meals where people can give thanks in their own way. If you are saying a communal prayer aloud, consider using phrases that do not mention a particular faith tradition. Even the word “God” is only inclusive of monotheistic faiths. Some phrases that might be helpful in crafting a prayer are:
• “Let us give thanks for the gift of food…”
• “Let us pray this food nourishes our bodies and this fellowship sustains our souls…”
• “We are grateful for what we are about to receive….”
Schedule: When planning an interfaith event, it’s important to check the dates of holidays from the different faith traditions you are inviting so as not to conflict with a holy day, festival or holiday. Some examples include Shabbat and Yom Kippur for Jews, Ramadan for Muslims, Easter for Christians, Vesak for Buddhists, and Diwali for Hindus. A calendar of special events for those in the Richardson community can be found on the Richardson Independent School District website: www.risd.org, click on Calendars, scroll down the left-hand column and click on Calendar of Religious Holidays, Festivals and Observances for a current schedule.
Shopping: Finally, we leave you with a list of stores, restaurants/caterers in our area that carry kosher, halal, and vegetarian products. Please note that a vegetarian menu includes many religious considerations and is inclusive of most if you can offer gluten-free and diary-free options.
o Tom Thumb has a Kosher deli, bakery, butcher, and an aisle of kosher dry goods: 1380 W Campbell Rd.at Coit, Richardson, TX 75080
o Milk & Honey Café with some dry goods: 420 N Coit Rd, Richardson, TX 75080
o Fino: 7522 Campbell Rd #108, Dallas, TX 75248
o Sara’s Grocery Store has Mediterranean groceries, halal meats and bakery: 750 S Sherman St, Richardson, TX 75081
o Chopped Halal Grill: 3000 Northside Boulevard #500, Richardson, TX 75080
o Fratello Halal Pizza and Grill: 201 S Greenville Ave, Richardson, TX 75081
o Afrah Mediterranean Grill: 318 E Main St, Richardson, TX 75081
o Vegvana Indian Restaurant: 100 S Central Expy #35, Richardson, TX 75080
o Whole Foods: 1411 E Renner Rd, Richardson, TX 75082
o Jason’s Deli has vegetarian sandwiches, gluten-free bread: 101 S Coit Rd #385, Richardson, TX 75080