As part of Interfaith Week, the Interfaith Ambassadors, with support from the Faith Centre, ran a series of events to celebrate and elicit interfaith interaction. The week ended off with an off-campus volunteering opportunity organised in conjunction with Mitzvah Day to cook Chicken soup for the homeless. Arya Gerard (LLM Law 2019), one of your Student Volunteering Ambassadors, talks to fellow Interfaith Ambassadors Danyal Khan, Emily Otvos, Leigh Shepherd and Petra Urszuly, who share their experiences.
Chicken soup is an ubiquitous go-to around the world: Chicken noodle soup the American answer to a stubborn cold, Pho Ga a Vietnamese staple at breakfast and Samgyetang the Korean way to beat the brutal summer heat. The Jewish rendition of Chicken soup, often enjoyed with Matzah balls, is no aberrance; dubbed as the one stop shop cure for all things bad, it was enriching to have a go at making this liquid gold during Mitzvah Day for a greater cause of feeding the homeless.
In line with Interfaith Week which is a week-long initiative celebrating and promoting inter faith cooperation, a group of us ended off the week by embracing Mitzvah Day, a seminal day of social action and paying-it-forward in the Jewish community, aimed at involving everyone. Emily led the LSE team as we headed to East London Mosque to join other volunteers in preparing, cooking and packing the soup. As Emily recalls, a grand 1000 portions of Chicken soup were cooked, with the help of volunteers from diverse backgrounds.
Petra shocked herself, shredding 5 whole chickens, something she can now add to her list of accomplishments. More importantly, she was driven to get involved in a cause that resonated with her. With homelessness recently being criminalised in her home country, Hungary, having the opportunity to cook for the homeless here in London was markedly meaningful.
Besides helping everyone add a few kitchen techniques to their repertoires, volunteering was a means to dissolve differences, integrating focus on a common altruistic goal of feeding the hungry. With anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on the rise, the place of religious pluralism in our society is increasingly challenged. Having events that bring people of all ages and different faiths together celebrates the diversity that London thrives on. Dan realised, through his interactions with other volunteers, that they had similar motivations despite their different backgrounds. He found the experience deeply rewarding whilst being a great way to forge new and meaningful bonds; he is inspired to continue volunteering.
Volunteering is a great way to assimilate into the London community beyond LSE. Leigh found the experience particularly invigorating, noting the unwavering positive ambience and support received from the dedicated volunteers. Having always wanted to connect with the local community, this was the perfect opportunity for her where she could interlace with the greater London community and partake in a meaningful outreach.
Mitzvah Day underscores how society should be focusing its energy, towards helping the less fortunate whilst putting aside our differences. It reiterates that volunteering is for everyone; a perfect culmination of Interfaith week.
Interested in volunteering?
If Arya has inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities taking place in Lent Term organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. And why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.