Songs of Praise gets a taste of collaborative work


In front of a camera crew from BBC's Songs of Praise, Christians and Jews cooked for the homeless in an early Mitzvah Day activity at JW3's Finchley Road premises.

Respective favourites such as mince pies and apple strudel were on the menu and participants swapped cookery tips.

Songs of Praise presenter Connie Fisher had heard that "Jewish mums are notoriously fantastic cooks" and was looking forward to sampling the results of the session, although the main beneficiaries were users of a local shelter.

Liberal rabbi Leah Jordan said she was fortunate to work alongside "a good chef who was trying to teach me how to cook a strudel. I have a number of skills but cooking is not one of them so it has been humbling."

Her tutor was Loretta Rubins, 63, who was surprised to find that Rabbi Jordan "couldn't even peel an apple. More surprisingly, young people don't think there is anything odd about that. I like to cook. I do it at home and communally."

She added that the event was also a massive positive for the community. "We get a really bad press so anything we can do to turn people's minds, one at a time, has to be good."

Christian London School of Economics student Rebekah Lee, 19, said it had given her an insight into how food and religion connect. LSE chaplain and interfaith adviser Rev Dr James Walters noted that "interfaith dialogue can often bring up disagreements and those conversations are much more fruitful if there are existing friendships and dialogue. So what better way to build those bridges than by collaborating on a social project? Especially with food."

Mitzvah Day founder and chair, Laura Marks, said: "We are using cooking to bring people together and to help a shelter. It couldn't be better than that." Excerpts from the session are due to be broadcast in Sunday's Songs of Praise.

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