April 16, 2014 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Sometimes, I can be pretty naive for my own good. Take this blog post, for example.
I’ve had a case of the warm fuzzies all day after attending my first Passover Seder on Monday. I spent a wonderful evening learning about the Jewish holiday, drinking a lot of kosher wine, eating my weight in matzo, and having some great conversations with folks I would’ve never met otherwise.
A few weeks ago, I had the tinglies after a trip with two of my best friends to Holy Family Catholic Church’s Friday fish fry, a Catholic tradition during the Christian holiday of Lent. There I was, in a gym full of strangers, eating a fish sandwich, listening to someone holler out Keno numbers over the crowd. It was the best Friday night I’d had in ages.
I’m not Catholic. I’m not Jewish. But both communities welcomed me with the one event that has the formative power to bridge divides — a good meal.
It gets hard to see the good in life sometimes. Heck, somebody might even read this post and leave with a frown because I even touched the topic of religion (this, along with sex and politics, are usually areas I try to keep my two pennies out of). But when you sit down and share a meal with old and new friends of all different religions, cultures and beliefs, and EVERYONE gets along, it’s worth blogging about.
Food might not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but I’ve taken a few things away from the Seder and fish fry that I can use every day:
- Welcome newcomers with open arms (and plates). I only knew a couple of people at both the fish fry and the seder. But there was an open seat for me at both. I felt equally welcome even though I don’t identify as part of either group. Isn’t that all you can ask for?
- Encourage dialogue about your ceremony/traditions/beliefs/etc. Shout out to Ben and Rachel, the hosts of the Seder, who printed a guide to the observance, used a smartphone to play traditional songs, and answered questions throughout the evening.
- Be nice. The Catholic school gym in which the fish fry took place was PACKED. Yet there were volunteers handy to squirt cups of tartar sauce and pick up your dirty plates. People were polite as they squirmed around folding chair, angling toward an empty seat. Large crowds can, indeed, keep it together and still have a good time.
- Alcohol never hurts. There was beer at the fish fry. There was wine at the seder. Draw your own conclusions.
Have you ever attended an event or observance of a culture not your own? What did you take away?