Samir Malik, a 31-year-old tech developer of Pakistani descent, remembers the day that Trump announced his Travel Ban on immigrants from Muslim countries. Surprisingly, he remembers dinner – specifically his dinner hosts which were an Orthodox Jewish family of six who had invited Malik and his wife to their home. The family comforted the Muslim couple asking, “How are you both doing…? Do you feel cared for?”
This touched Malik and he found the gesture encouraging. The dinner was part of an initiative to bring together Muslims and Jews for intimate home-cooked meals throughout New York City and the surrounding regions. Since February, there have been twenty interfaith dinners, drawing a total of 100 participants.
“The idea is for people who don’t interact as much to have an opportunity to get to know each other,” says Lonnie Firestone, an Orthodox Jew and Brooklyn writer who is spearheading the effort with Malik.
Recently Brooklyn city council member Brad Lander hosted an interfaith dinner at his home. His guests included a Muslim couple and two staffers, one Muslim and a Jew, and the dinner topics varied widely. “It was an opportunity for us to ask basic questions about faith traditions — like talk about the difference between Sunnis and Shias or why Jews light the Sabbath candles and say the Kiddush,” says the councilman.