Hosting A Shabbat Salaam v. Shabbat Salaamx
Our Shabbat Salaam interfaith dinners began in San Francisco in Summer 2017 to bring communities together to discuss how to combat the rise of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes after the 2016 US presidential elections. Today, we have hosted over 1,000 attendees across the United States.
Since our inception, we have had requests to host a Shabbat Salaam gathering at Jewish and Muslim-led spaces in Miami, Madison, and everywhere in between. Sadly, as a small team it has been difficult for us to travel and host these events, especially since we are bootstrapped.
So we decided to take a page from TED's playbook and offer our (remote) assistance to help communities create their own independently organized events called Shabbat Salaamx. Like TED, Shabbat Salaam"x" stands for an independently organized interfaith dinner series similar to a TEDx.
Shabbat Salaam has a series of strict rules we abide by. We bring on board Muslim and Jewish partners, create interfaith programming (including family-friendly content), and work hard to make our space observant to the laws of Shabbat and Jummah. To respect Muslims and Jews across denominations, we strictly offer Glatt Kosher and Zabihah foods, do not serve alcohol, use a Kosher kitchen for preparation, and respect the communities we enter. When it is not the holy month of Ramadan, we do have live musical performances.
Shabbat Salaamx is less about our rules and more about guidelines that we suggest our hosts to follow.
We ask that they try to find a Muslim and Jewish co-host (an individual or an organization) to consider the Halal and Kosher laws they want to follow and the communities they want to reach out to and invite. From our experience, the more diverse the space is in faith, race, and socioeconomic status, for example, the more beneficial the conversations will be for everyone. Of course, we understand that this guideline may be limiting to many, but finding a co-host helps a lot!
We ask that hosts be respectful to the dietary needs of their attendees. Some Shabbat Salaamx events have had wine to welcome in Shabbat, while others have used Kosher grape juice. Some follow Glatt Kosher, some don't. When to use alcohol or follow the most orthodox dietary laws is at the discretion of the hosting team who are strongly suggested to ask their attendees. We suggest sending out a survey one week prior to the event to learn more about each attendee's needs. At official Shabbat Salaam events, we simply follow the most orthodox dietary laws and offer Glatt Kosher, Zabihah Halal, and no alcohol, for example.
When choosing a venue, consider people with disabilities and access to the space. Also note that if you host Shabbat Salaam on Shabbat, some may be walking to and from your venue. Consider putting it close to where your Jewish attendees live.
While Shabbat Salaamx has guidelines, there are commandments that will never change.
1. Build A Longer Table
Create a space where anyone can join. If you are serving meat, also offer vegan dishes. If you have a speaker consider the sound. If you are Jewish and live in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, host the event in a Muslim neighborhood and invite your network to meet new friends there.
2. Do Not Preach
Our roots are in interfaith work, but that does not mean anyone is allowed to create a space that promotes one religion over another. As a practicing Muslim, I enjoy the teachings of Buddhism, Judaism, and other faiths. While I may have many questions about other faiths, I will not preach mine to another.
3. Make It Affordable To Your Community
This is relative to so many people (and based on what you are offering), but to make the event as diverse as possible consider offering discounts. Official Shabbat Salaam events may cost $35 - $100 a ticket for a 5-course meal and performance, we offer student discounts and other public service opportunities that deduct a major portion of the ticket cost.
If you are interested in hosting a Shabbat Salaamx or want our team to host an official Shabbat Salaam in your town please reach out to us. No matter which type of programming you'd like to have, we will help you in every step of the way. We look forward to hearing from you!
The Abe's Eats Team