Centre College’s religion program is hosting a virtual event featuring Chef Michael Twitty on Wednesday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m. The conversation with Twitty is titled “Kosher Soul: The Interaction of Blackness and Jewishness in an Intersectional World.”
Author of the award-winning book “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South,” Twitty is interested in the intersection of race, religion and food. He is passionate about “preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and their parent traditions in Africa, the Diaspora and their legacy in the food culture of the American South.”
Lee Jefferson, Nelson D. and Mary McDowell Rodes Associate Professor of Religion, taught a CentreTerm course this past January exploring this very relationship between food and religion. Jefferson and his students took trips to Paducah, Nashville and Louisville, among other places, to learn about topics such as the cultural appropriation of food as well as food sustainability. Students experienced a lot of hands-on learning in the classroom as well by participating in head-to-head cooking battles.
Jefferson used Chef Twitty’s book during his CentreTerm course, and through a grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, the religion program is able to host this virtual event with Twitty.
“The religion program was very clear that, in light of everything going on in our world and the attention that is finally being paid to systemic violence and racism, we wanted to do something that addressed issues of race and religion,” Assistant Professor of Religion Shana Sippy explained.
Sippy also found it important to offer programs this summer to keep people connected.
“People are feeling isolated and distant, and this is a way to connect and learn and challenge ourselves to talk and think about ideas together,” she added.
Earlier this summer, the religion program also offered a virtual session to make “knafe,” a traditional Palestinian pastry. The program was geared toward students who took Sippy and NEH Associate Professor of Religion Matthew Pierce’s CentreTerm course Holy Lands: Sacred Realities and Political Stories.
College Chaplain Rick Axtell, H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Religion, also noticed a conversation emerging among South and Southeast Asian Centre students regarding their experiences with racism and anti-blackness. In a desire to allow for a more nuanced conversation regarding these issues, Sippy is offering a “Chai and Samosa” Zoom chat with these students and alumni on July 9.
The multitude of programs offered by the religion program this summer serve as a “reminder that we can still stay connected, and that a liberal arts education is supposed to help us make sense of the complex world in which we live,” Sippy explained.
Anybody interested in the July 8 conversation with Chef Michael Twitty is encouraged to attend this program. Click here for the Zoom link.
by Injee Hong ’21
July 6, 2020