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Jews and Muslims in ‘chicken soup challenge’ for Mitzvah Day feeding those in need

PUBLISHED: 20:12 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 20:12 19 November 2018

Jewish and Muslim volunteers prepare the chicken soup vegetable ingrediants. Picture: Yakir Nur

Jewish and Muslim volunteers prepare the chicken soup vegetable ingrediants. Picture: Yakir Nur

Yakir Nur

Jews and Muslims in east London joined Britain’s biggest interfaith day of social action cooking 2,500 portions of kosher, halal, vegetarian and vegan soups at 20 events up and down the country.

Members of Bnai Brith youth organisation showing a Muslim volunteer how Jewish chicken soup is made. Picture: Yakir NurMembers of Bnai Brith youth organisation showing a Muslim volunteer how Jewish chicken soup is made. Picture: Yakir Nur

The soup—dubbed “Jewish penicillin” for its “feel good” and medicinal properties—also has significance for Muslims with a tradition to water down broth to share with others.   

Volunteers from the two communities made 1,000 portions in the East London Muslim centre’s kitchens in Whitechapel, to a traditional Jewish recipe using halal chickens, in a ‘soup’ challenge for yesterday’s Mitzvah Day event.

“Mitzvah Day is about bringing people together to break social barriers,” its founder Laura Marks said. “Many volunteers from both religions would never have met a Jew or a Muslim before, let alone made chicken soup with them.”  

Those chopping vegetables, rolling matzo balls and stirring the soup included Rabbi Roni Tabick from New Stoke Newington synagogue, Imam Mohammed Mahmoud from East London Mosque, Muslim Aid volunteers, the 8th East London scout group and members of B’nai B’rith Jewish youth organisation.

Preparing vegetables for the Jewish chicken soup in the East London mosque kitchen. Picture: Yakir NurPreparing vegetables for the Jewish chicken soup in the East London mosque kitchen. Picture: Yakir Nur

Muslim Aid’s chief executive Jehangir Malik said: “Part of the mosque site was once the old Fieldgate Street synagogue which attracted worshippers on the Jewish Sabbath. This Mitzvah Day brought our communities together in a part of London which is meaningful to both.” 

The Whitechapel chicken soup and a vegan version devised by the Jewish Vegetarian Society was sent to the Salvation Army, St Mungo’s homeless charity and a south London centre for supported housing.

The Mitzvah Day idea begun as a Jewish social action 10 years ago has morphed into a full interfaith national event with people of all faiths and none giving time rather than money to help build stronger communities. It includes visits to care homes, cleaning cemeteries and parks, holding teas and lunches for refugees and collecting clothes and food for those in need. 

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