Members of the Leeds Sikh and Jewish communities came together at a series of events to share their knowledge and experiences about their respective faiths and to build friendships.
The LJRC worked in partnership with the Chapeltown Gurdwara and Bradford’s Kala Sangham to devise the programme of events, which was aimed at forging links between the two groups.
The first event kicked off at the UHC Synagogue in Leeds during the festival of Sukkot, where visitors were treated to a fascinating tour of the Synagogue and introduction about the Jewish faith, by Sue and Mike Dorsey and Jonathan Rose. This was followed by refreshments in the Succah and an explanation of the festival of Sukkot.
A visit then took place at the Gurdwara where guests were treated to an absorbing initiation to Sikhism by Balraj Singh Gill, the Temple’s president. A youth group then gave a spectacular kirtan performance, after which guests were served refreshments in the communal kitchen, or Langar, where an explanation about Sikh cooking practices took place.
A return visit to the Temple followed, where guests were given an expert demonstration on the making of chapatis, paneer, vegetable curry and seviyan kheer; a sweet milk pudding made with vermicelli. All those who had anticipated an evening of observing the cookery demos were in for a surprise as everyone was encouraged to roll up their sleeves and join in!
Living up to this mouth-watering cookery demo was always going to be a tall order but the LJRC gave it a shot at the project’s final event. Now the turn of the Jewish community to showcase its culinary heritage, host Ann Dewar, accompanied by helpers Or Nehushtan and Vicki Jackson, showed the Sikh guests, how to make a mouth-watering ensemble of falafel, humus, tahini sauce, aubergine dip and Israeli salad. The guests, many of whom were children, provided a good deal of light-hearted banter throughout the evening and they weren’t afraid to get stuck in and learn some new cookery techniques.
All food was made from scratch in accordance with the strict diet of those Sikh guests who have undergone the Amritdhari (baptism) ceremony, which prohibits them from eating food which has been processed, as part of their commitment to purity and a lacto-vegetarian diet.
Discussions about the many shared dishes between the two faiths, for example, the popular Jewish Sephardi recipe for Zalebi, known in Indian cuisine as Jelebi, demonstrated how this was just one way in which communities share similarities, which ought to be celebrated. These events proved the perfect platform to do just that and has paved the way for continuing positive links between the two communities for the future.