A’salam alekem, Shalom Alechem
The laws and traditions of eating—known as kashrut--transform a physical process into a spiritual act. Eating nourishes our souls as well as fulfills our appetites. At my installation as Chaplain, my teacher Professor Renee Levine Mellammed recounted the lack of dining accommodations for students with diverse needs when she attended Smith in the early 1970’s. Now, a little more than thirty years later, we dedicate ongoing Kosher and Halal dining. Today, we celebrate Smith’s commitment to welcome students from diverse backgrounds.
Eating around a common table establishes community. Providing options of Kosher and Halal food in a large dining hall fosters an inclusive model of community. Just as food nourishes our bodies, I hope that the discussions and the friendships fostered here will nourish a repaired, peaceful world.
In a few moments, we will sing the Shehechiyanu blessing in which we thank God for keeping us alive, sustaining us, and bringing us to this joyous day. The back of the program includes a brief list of groups of people who were instrumental in allowing us to reach this occasion. Al Hajjah Khalilah and I do not want to forget anyone so we won’t thank you all by name. You know who you are. On behalf of the past, current, and future Muslim and Jewish students, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and stomachs for your hard work, dedication, and support.
It is fitting that today’s occasion honors the coming together of the most sacred periods in our religious calendars. May our joyful celebration together lead to meaningful prayers and fasts when our holidays arrive with the new moon. I conclude in Hebrew by wishing all of you Shanah Tova u metukah v’ramadan mevarechet—Have a Sweet and Peaceful New Year and a Blessed Ramadan.