People of different faiths bridge gaps over annual Potluck for Peace in Arlington Heights

Tre Ward Image
Monday, September 11, 2023
People of different faiths attend annual potluck in northern suburb
The annual Interfaith Potluck for Peace in Arlington Heights, IL started after the September 11 attacks.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- Millions of Americans came together in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, but some say that day also brought on a divide between several religions.

"These are all great people. Everybody has a good goal in their heart of eventually finding peace between all of us, and this is just a start," said Muhammad Mamdani, a Muslim attendee.

In Arlington Heights, faith leaders are working to bridge that gap over an annual dinner.

"The big issue is, 'how can you have a genocide, wherever it happens?'" said Jewish attendee Magda Roth.

People of different faiths and religions spoke over what brings them all together: a well-cooked dinner.

"I have no idea how to make a hamburger. I can make a chicken paprikash in no time," Roth said.

Father Corey Brost with The Children of Abraham Coalition started the Interfaith Potluck for Peace 12 years ago in response to what he says was hatred toward the Muslim faith.

"I just emailed some Islamic and Jewish communities, leaders to say, 'How can we bring together our three traditions to confront this type of hate?'" Brost said. "We literally get a taste of the beauty of diversity."

Now, dozens gather at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights each year, as they did Sunday night, to keep that tradition going.

"We can enrich our lives by learning from somebody else, and by teaching them our habits," Roth said.

This potluck initially started 12 years ago to commemorate the September 11 attacks. The event brings people from different faiths under one roof to better understand their religions while also sharing their good food from their respective cultures.

"When we brought people together to remember the pain and suffering of 9/11/2011, we wanted to celebrate the message of 9/11/1893," Brost said. "That was opening session of the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago."

And, it's all while breaking bread over dinner.

"If someone is oppressed, we can't stay quiet. We need to defend them," one Muslim attendee said.

Each conversation helps to bridge the gap.

"There's actually a lot of similarities," said 11-year-old Diya Mukhopadhyaya.