Recently I attended a three day residential conference of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association in Australia which explored the theme of hospitality in our three faiths. Each of the faiths in turn took responsibility for developing the theme by leading the contemplation, the study of their texts, the small group discussions and the prayer of their faith which was observed by the others. Sharing on such a personal level helped to create a hospitable environment.
The intimacy and honesty in the conversations over meals became the highlight of the conference for many of us. Sharing food with people helps to overcome fear of the other and build friendships. All cultures have their own rules and customs for meals. Understanding different customs helps to overcome boundaries. Life together is something to be enjoyed like a delightful feast.
On August 1, 2011, we entered the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. I received a number of invitations to share iftar (breaking of the fast) meals with Muslim brothers and sisters and both enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to experience one of their important rituals.