Dates are used by Muslims around the world to break their daily fast during Ramadan, a tradition inspired by the prophet Muhammad’s reported practice. Eggrolls, rugelach and falafel, by contrast, don’t count as Iftar standards, but all three were served Wednesday night at Charleston’s first-ever interfaith interpretation of the evening meal.
As Ghazala Javed of Charleston Central Mosque explained to the group gathered at Second Presbyterian Church, each of the items on the Iftar plate stood for a place where Muslims live: The eggrolls, rugelach and falafel symbolized Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The nod to diversity was fitting, since the event was organized as a reception for Spirited Brunch volunteers.
At the Apr. 22 event, the volunteers in attendance were stationed at their home congregations, welcoming visitors who stopped by to sample food representative of the host community or its faith. In other words, while hundreds of Charleston residents and tourists hopscotched from a church to a synagogue to a cathedral to a Tibetan Buddhist center, these dedicated volunteers stayed put, ladling out shrimp-and-grits and slicing Huguenot torte.
On Wednesday, though, the volunteers had a chance to experience the cross-culinary exchange that defines the annual Spirited Brunch. Volunteers affiliated with denominations including Hinduism, Mormonism, Unitarianism and Judaism listened to the Mosque’s visiting imam explain the observance’s meaning and recite prayers. Then at precisely 8:22 p.m., they feasted on lentil soup, simmered chickpeas and other dishes supplied by mosque members, as well as an array of sweets.
During Ramadan, which began on May 17, observant Muslims only eat before sunrise and after sundown. “The hardest part of Ramadan is the sleep deprivation,” says Javed, who enthusiastically wakes up by 4 a.m. in order to share the holiday with a son who lives in New York.
Although the Iftar was supposed to wind down around 9 p.m., participants stayed on long past the scheduled end to eat and talk. “This is really special,” Second Presbyterian pastor Cress Darwin said.
Spirited Brunch III is scheduled for Apr. 21, 2019.