The tradition of Mimouna originates in a time in Jewish-Muslim relations when communities shared food and traditions to mark the end of Passover. Before the start of Passover, Jews would give away their flour, yeast, and grain to their Muslim neighbors, who at the end of Passover would celebrate Mimouna by bringing sweets to share with their Jewish neighbors. This organic intermixing of traditions was beneficial to both cultural groups.
This tradition emerged in the same period as feudalism, Chaucer, the Vikings, and the Black Plague. From our current age of space ships, solar panels, and nanotechnology, we may believe that civilization has greatly evolved since then. But the act of being civil hasn’t necessarily grown at all.
A group of AARC member met this weekend in honor of Mimouna to discuss how we might cultivate the spirit of this tradition in our time and community. To spark discussion on the topic, Rabbi Ora provided us with a quote from an Aboriginal activist group in Queensland in the 1970s:
If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.Aboriginal Activist Group, Queensland, 1970s.
This quote suggests that if we are to do good work, we must work together in a way that lifts us all up as one community. The question was brought to the table: how might we begin this process?
After many ideas from different angles and approaches were shared, the group agreed that Rabbi Ora and members of our community would form a committee to engage with the following ideas:
- The first proposal was to establish an organizational relationship with Islamic groups in our area. Supporters of this idea would like to initiate relationships between our spiritual leaders, supported by a committee.
- Another congregant suggested we engage in political activism in relationship to Israel, supporting politicians that advocate for peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- A complementary suggestion was to engage with members of the Muslim community one-on-one, based on already-existing relationships. Many members of our congregation are already participating in various interfaith efforts, including an interfaith book club and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.
- A final wish was to focus on making a statement. One recommendation was to do so by publishing material in social and print media. Another suggested approach was to craft yard signs, tools for schools, and political support ad campaigns.
If you would like to participate in this interfaith activism committee, please email Rabbi Ora at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will update the community when we have begun taking steps to initiate these goals. What a gift it is to engage in our traditions in a new and invigorating way! L’Chaim!