Just six yards of colorful fabric and a few mounds of dough generated an afternoon of fellowship and wonder at the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in East Hills on a recent Sunday afternoon.
They were there to celebrate a cultural program centering around the allure of the sari, Jewish traditions of challah-bread braiding, and the documentary film "Next Year in Bombay." Held on March 11, the event was jointly planned with the Young Indian Culture Group.
Those with inquiring minds about Indian culture asked a myriad of questions that ranged from "How does a teenage girl of Indian heritage born in the USA react to her parents asking her to wear her first sari?" to "Was your marriage arranged?" On the flip side, those curious about Judaism got busy with their hands into dough and braiding challah. After the screening of the movie more than 100 guests sampled Indian and Jewish food and continued their dialogue.
"This event brought Jews and Indians together in a beautiful spirit of openness. People were free to ask questions of each other and answered openly," said Rabbi Lina Zerbarini, director of the JCC's Weinberger Center for Jewish Life and Learnin. Zerbarini was instrumental in the planning of the program.
"Jews and Indians saw themselves and recognized their own cultures in the Indian Jewish community in Bombay," she added, referring to the documentary. "This is a first step in bringing these neighbors together to build community."