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‘Hummus: The Movie’ gathers different faiths to the same table

For the past two years, Jewish, Muslim and Christian teens have baked goods to be served at one of The J’s film festival’s receptions. This year the film will be ‘Hummus: The Movie,’ to be shown at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22.

Jill Maidhof has a passion for bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian teenagers to teach them that they have far more in common than they might think, and she uses food as the hook.

 

Maidhof is a member of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom and director of Jewish experiences for the Jewish Community Center (The J). The Sisterhood and The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City are partnering for an event surrounding a screening of “Hummus: The Movie” at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, at The White Theatre at the Jewish Community Campus. Dinner and a discussion of the film will follow the screening.

The film is one of six that will be shown as part of the 2017 Kansas City Jewish Film Festival from Jan. 8 through Jan. 22, along with two more films to be shown later in the year. All the films were made by Jewish filmmakers. 

“Hummus: The Movie” looks at what has become the delicious, nutritious super food sweeping America, according to the festival’s organizers. It has the power to draw together Muslims, Christians and Jews in the Middle East, America and elsewhere around the world. 

The film centers on three main characters, all restaurateurs: a hardworking Muslim woman, an ever-smiling Jew and a young Christian Arab, all on a quest for meaning and making the claim that their hummus is the best in Israel. Despite their historical and cultural differences, they have a common passion for hummus. 

Some members of the Sisterhood and about two dozen teenagers will play on that passion and get together at The J on Jan. 21 to make Israeli desserts for the dinner that will be served after the film is screened on Jan. 22. 

“Adult women of the Sisterhood are bringing the expertise for the baking,” Maidhof said. “When the opportunity came up, we really jumped at the chance to be with the “Hummus” project. What we’ve seen is that engaging the kids together has been a really fun activity and an opportunity to use the baking activity as a time for prayer for the students.” 

After the baking is done, the group will have a conversation about their prayer practices and beliefs. A Muslim woman, Dr. Sofia Kahn, will lead the discussion. 

The Sisterhood is a social organization whose mission is to foster understanding of different faiths and faith practices and help people of different faiths become friends. Its first Kansas City chapter was started about a year ago, and a second chapter was recently started, Maidhof said. The two chapters combined have about 20 members. 

Alan Edelman, the Jewish Federation’s associate executive director, said the Christian restaurateur in the film is the owner, chef and proprietor of Samir’s in Ramle, Israel, which is a partner community with the Jewish Federation.

“Every year, we sponsor one of the films of the festival, and very often I’m consulted about films in Israel or Jewish-content films for the festival,” Edelman said. “Many of us are very close friends with the family that owns Samir’s. Samir recently died, and members of our community were in Israel for the funeral.”

Jailil Dabit is the chef who will prepare the meal that will be served after the film’s screening, Edelman said. The Christian Arab is Samir’s son and owns two restaurants, one in Ramle and another in Berlin. He will be preparing a variety of Israeli salads and other specialty items. Dabit also will lead the discussion after the film.

“This will be the third year that the Sisterhood has engaged Jewish, Muslim and Christian teens in a baking activity in conjunction with a film that celebrates diversity in Israel,” Maidhof said. “Now, when we call kids back to come and bake they’re excited to do it, and we have more kids who want to get involved. Its’ a great time for the kids to put a face on the ‘other,’ and they learn that they’re all interested in the same things.”

The film and the dinner cost $10 each, and tickets can be bought separately, Edelman said. Tickets can be bought at www.thejkc.org and www.kcjff.org or by calling 913-327-8054.