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Dartmouth President James Wright has announced approval of funding for the establishment of a halal-kosher dining facility on the Hanover, N.H., campus. When complete, it will be one of the few college dining halls available anywhere in the nation that offers both halal and kosher meals to students who choose to observe the dietary laws of Islam and Judaism.
A committee of Muslim and Jewish students, together with faculty and staff, submitted a proposal that will guide planning for the new facility. The committee was led by Yousuf Haque '02, President of Dartmouth Al-Nur, and Jason Spitalnick '02, President of Dartmouth Hillel. At a time of deepening conflict in the Middle East, this committee representing both faiths forged a unique plan for halal (pronounced cha-lal) - kosher dining that accommodates the needs of the two religious customs and will be a resource and gathering place for the entire community.
"I am delighted that we are moving forward with this important initiative," said President Wright. "The careful work done by this committee gives us the opportunity to create a truly innovative facility where students and other members of the community will be able to observe the customs of their faiths."
Research into halal and kosher dietary laws conducted by the committee determined that the difficulties in establishing and maintaining a facility that meets Jewish and Muslim dietary customs in one space was considerable. While some requirements are similar, they are by no means the same. For example, the group noted that there is "currently no facility in the world that certifies meat items as fulfilling both kosher and halal norms as understood in their most stringent form." Consequently, the committee adopted a principle that identifies and clarifies the needs of each faith, and pursues a policy of "greater stringency" where differences in custom exist.
"I feel privileged to have been a part of this process," said Edward Boraz, Rabbi to Dartmouth and the Upper Valley Jewish Community. "Central to our discussions was a commitment to Dartmouth's principles of community. The Student Life Initiative provided a framework in which we could imagine and plan for a space that will celebrate our diversity while bringing us together." The Student Life Initiative, a multi-faceted effort to explore ways to enhance the social and residential experience for Dartmouth students, was begun in 1998.
"Our hope for this facility," noted Haque, Spitalnick and their fellow committee memebers, "is that it will provide a model for institutions of higher learning...[with] student groups of disparate backgrounds, even those with a history of conflict, as to what may be accomplished when working together for the betterment of one another."
Plans for implementing the facility will begin immediately under the supervision of Tucker Rossiter, Director of Dartmouth Dining Services.
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