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FOOD, DRINK RULES ON MENU AT VALLEY INTERFAITH SESSION.

Byline: Holly J. Andres Staff Writer

CANOGA PARK - Many people think nothing of stopping by a fast-food joint for a bacon cheeseburger and a Coke, but dining out is not so easy for the religiously observant.

VIC, as the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council is now formally known, will demystify the dietary practices in Judaism, Hindu, Islam and Christian faiths at a panel discussion Sunday, ``What My Faith Tradition Tells Me About Food and Drink.''

``We believe you are what you eat. We believe that there are foods that promote spiritualism, foods that directly affect the mind to promote the spiritual,'' said Vinod Kapoor, who will present the Hindu viewpoint.

``We eat nothing that moves. We stay away from anything that is mind-altering, like alcohol, or habit-forming, like Coke.''

All foods fall into three categories according to Hindu holy scripture. Pure or ``sattvic'' foods lead to longer life and happiness. Foods that taste bitter, sour or spicy are believed to bring unhappiness and disease.

The third category, ``tamasic'' or intoxicating foods, include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, alcohol, tea and coffee. The latter are considered to be counter to purity of consciousness.

The rationale behind dietary practices fascinates Katherine Rousseau, co-chairwoman of the Interfaith Relations Committee and the moderator for the event.

``How did this religion decide what you do and do not eat? I'm a Roman Catholic and we have no restrictions on what we eat except not eating meat on Fridays during Lent and fasting on Ash Wednesday,'' she said.

Rousseau will be available during the question-and-answer part of the event for questions about her faith.

``Jewish tradition would look to the book of Leviticus. I plan to talk about the foods that we were commanded by God to eat and not eat,'' said Rabbi Paul Dubin, who will explain the Jewish viewpoint.

``Animals with a split hoof and that also chew the cud are kosher animals. We exclude the pig because it doesn't chew the cud. Things in the sea must have both fins and scales so that eliminates us from eating shrimp, lobster, snails and shark.''

Rules for keeping kosher are complicated, and Orthodox, Reform and Conservative Jews have differing views on how to follow the dietary commandments.

``Why kosher? Why not? It's part of our holy Scripture,'' said Dubin, a Conservative Jew. ``If you're not afraid of being different, then you are secure as a person. Sometimes you need that extra help into not assimilating. It's kept Judaism alive.''

The interfaith panel discussions on various topics have been offered by VIC since the 1990s. Rousseau said that being able to hear someone speak about their faith is more rewarding than reading about it.

``Unless religious people can learn from each other and respect each other, we're never going to have peace in the world,'' Rousseau said. ``I think these panels can be peacemaking.''

``What My Faith Tradition Tells Me About Food and Drink'' will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church, 7500 De Soto Ave., Canoga Park. In addition to Kapoor, Dubin and Rousseau, the following speakers are scheduled to attend: Bishop Steven Cowley, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints viewpoint; Recep Dogan, with the Islamic viewpoint; and Jane McGlory, with the Seventh-day Adventist viewpoint. Information about VIC services will be available, and monetary donations to the Preventing Hunger campaign will be accepted. Call (818) 718-6460.

Holly Andres, (818) 713-3708

holly.andres(at)dailynews.com

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photo

Photo:

From left, Katherine Rousseau, the Rev. Wayne Christiansen, and Rabbi Paul Dubin will participate in the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council panel discussion.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 21, 2005
Words:607
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