Hi! Did you miss us? We missed you. Honest. (Although it probably doesn’t seem like it — in that we haven’t posted a new episode for nearly a year…)
So — let’s address that first, shall we?
Faiqa and I (this is Mike/Shiny) absolutely loved what we did on a regular basis — developing and presenting Hey! That’s My Hummus! After a while, however, both of us became quite busy with other responsibilities which were taking up more time, and we simply didn’t have the resources available to continue on a regular basis. There wasn’t a “falling out;” we still talk to each other every so often on Facebook. Our podcast series didn’t get canceled or sold to a media content company (we wish!), nor did we get sued by the hummus lobby.
Recently both of us have been thinking about our partnership — a lot of this has to do with the escalating events occurring in Palestine and Israel over the past several weeks. This is a war for which one of the battlegrounds has been social media: each of us has been experiencing a wide range of posts, videos and articles on our Facebook feeds from all over the spectrum. It has become tense. And when tensions rise, it’s usually an excuse to separate oneself from “the other folks” — making it more difficult for solid communication and understanding to occur between people who share different beliefs.
And that’s one of the things we loved about Hey! That’s My Hummus! We obviously didn’t agree on every single issue. But we could discuss it. Not as emissaries of the Jewish and Muslim communities, but rather as two, multi-faceted individuals seeing this from different vantage points. With that discussion often came different possibilities and understandings rather than the expected party lines.
We truly value what we have. And we look forward to collaborating again in the future. We don’t know when, but we both share an interest in it. It could be weeks. Months. Years. We don’t know. (If someone would like to contribute $250,000 to a Kickstarter fund in our names, I’m sure we could move the schedule up a bit…)
Today our paths crossed in a way which was a bit of an unexpected intersection: Faiqa wrote a powerful blog post discussing what she has been observing this past month — stressing that we need to make a connection to those affected by this tragedy on a human level rather than one of ideals or factions. Read it. I certainly didn’t do it justice in the previous sentence. Within the hour, I had a selection of mine posted to The Listserve, a once-a-day email sent to aboout 24,500 people. I wrote about our personal connection as individuals which stemmed from this podcast. (Hi to those of you who are reading this because of my post.)
The message is clear: now, more than ever, we need to connect. Not as groups. Not as “us vs. them.” As individuals. As humans.
I’m posting my Listserve email here for those of you not on the list. (More after the break…)
From: Mike Scheinberg <[email protected]>
Date: Sat, Aug 2, 2014 at 1:59 PM
Subject: [The Listserve] Solving the World’s Problems with Hummus…
My social media presence is filled with passionate articles, arguments, pictures and pleas concerning humanitarian crises occurring halfway around the world — yet are close to my heart. I have my unique take on these issues — some which I have expressed on my own pages and feeds.
But I’m not going to talk about that here.
Just about eight years ago (August 1, 2006) my mom died suddenly. It was a shock to everyone. I grew up in a traditional Jewish household emphasizing a strong Jewish education and had learned about the process and rituals surrounding death, burial and mourning. But I hadn’t experienced it so closely until then. There was the tearing of a necktie I wore which my mom liked. The visitors during the first seven days of mourning (shiva). The walk around a pond I took with my Dad at the end of that week. And the following eleven months of gathering with the community to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer with which I became all too familiar.
“I should write a book about these experiences,” I thought. And I started to do just that. A (slightly humorous) chronicle of blog posts of this year-long journey following my mother’s passing, explaining the Jewish rituals I was experiencing for the first time. I never finished that book.
Fast forward a few years: I had met a blogger named Faiqa who wrote passionately about her life as an American Muslim woman. The way she would explain the rituals and beliefs of her religion and culture were so interesting. And, at times, funny. I approached her — telling her that it would be amazing to collaborate on a book where we could share our own traditional experiences in our own quirky ways.
We decided to form a weekly podcast. “Hey! That’s My Hummus!” got its name from the subject of our first episode — which dealt with a conflict between student groups over a boycott of a brand of hummus being sold on campus. It wasn’t the first time that Jewish and Muslim groups on a college campus (or anywhere else) had butted heads, nor would it be the last. But it was something which we could discuss light-heartedly as friends. Over the following 75 episodes, we talked about issues from our own vantage points — whether they dealt with our religious and cultural practices or wereripped from the headlines that week. (We somehow spent a lot of time talking about Justin Bieber.)
This was truly a learning experience for the both of us as we had both experienced some avoidance between our two religious groups in the past. Perhaps it was a knee-jerk reaction figuring that we’d fundamentally disagree from the start and that it would be best for us to simply tiptoe around any interaction. But in our collaboration, we both learned so much about the values each other held dear. It certainly opened my eyes to new possibilities.
As far as I know, our podcast hasn’t produced world peace (yet). That can’t happen with simply one Jewish guy and one Muslim woman talking on a weekly basis. But it stresses that we ARE just people with our own stories and experiences. It’s easy to generalize about “us” and “them” — especially when groups are in conflict with each other. Only when we take that next step and think of each other as individuals — that’s when we can truly see progress.
You can do a web search on the podcast. Or, even better, come up with your own. Form a new relationship with another individual.
Alexandria, VA USA
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UPDATE: I’ve received some wonderful feedback from my listserve post. The first was from someone who let me know about something called The Hummus Initiative. It’s a Facebook project to combat the conflict and tension we’re seeing lately by finding and demonstrating a common love of hummus. Check it out — and post a picture if you’d like!