Friday evening, students from the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and the Center for Jewish Life (CJL) sat down for Shabbat dinner, friendly banter, and cultural and religious learning.

Participants in the Muslim-Jewish Dialogue filled up at least two tables at the Shabbat. The discussion was relaxed, with conversations about what people had been doing the last week and what plans they might make for the weekend.

After Cara Singer ’09, president of the CJL Board, made the weekly announcements, the floor was given to Cale Salih ’10, a member of the MSA. Salih explained that the wine normally served at the tables had been replaced with grape juice because in the Muslim faith it is forbidden to drink alcohol.

Esther Breger ’10, a fellow on the Religious Life Council and a senior writer for The Daily Princetonian, then welcomed the guests, introduced the song Shalom Aleichem, the Kiddish prayer and the tradition of ritualistic hand washing.

The idea of Muslim and Jewish students dining together is not unusual at the University, though the event facilitated and coordinated this interaction. “A lot of [Muslim] students come individually [to the CJL], so we decided to get everyone together,” Salih said.

Salih, who helped organize the event and is also a member of the Religious Life Council, explained, “The Muslim and Jewish communities here are already very integrated, so it works.”

She said that some Muslim students frequent the CJL because kosher meat served there also meets some Halal standards and “because their friends are there, it’s a comfortable environment.”

“That’s the great thing about the integration of the communities,” she said. “[The CJL] is an environment where Muslims, Jews and people of any faith can come, not just Jewish students.

Salih said that the idea for the Muslim-Jewish Shabbat came from a trip with the Muslim-Jewish Dialogue to Spain during spring break last year. Twenty-one students and the Jewish and Muslim chaplains traveled to Spain, where they not only toured country but also interacted with fellow students of the other faith. (MORE)


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