Special holidays and occasions gain meaning when they are shared with loved ones, friends and family. One of the greatest opportunities to celebrate family, friendship and give thanks to the many blessings we are adorned with is the time of Thanksgiving
On Saturday, November 16, 2013, Pacifica Institute gathered with its extended family and circle of loved ones, to share a Thanksgiving feast at its San Fernando Valley Branch. As the host of the evening welcomed the guests he reminded everyone that in this day of celebration we should remember that we have much to be thankful for. “In our busy lives it is very easy to forget the many blessing we receive, but a disaster, such as the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, serves as a reminder of how fortunate we are,” he noted, reminding everyone to keep all those who were affected in their thoughts and prayers. Having come from near and far to gather around a table in the warm spirit of the environment, friends enjoyed joyful conversation and strengthened connections as they raised their hands in prayers of thanks and gratitude over a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans and pumpkin pie.
The screening of the Pacifica Institute introductory video served as a reminder of Pacifica’s vision and mission to contribute to the community and the world. The second video, highlighting this year’s Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival, was a feast for the eye as the guests indulged in their memories of one of the year’s most favorite events
Teri Carnisciali from the Christian Science Church, right next door to the Pacifica Institute, was the special guest of the evening. Her speech on neighborliness reinforced the spirit and message of the evening as she reflected on the meaning and beauty of love and being neighbors. Teri shared her personal memories of times when her neighbors’ random acts of kindness made her feel welcome and loved. She also touched upon the good relations between the church and Pacifica as neighbors in the community, and she finished her words with wishes of blessing and “Happy Thanksgiving”!
A unique addition to the traditional Thanksgiving menu was a sweet touch of Turkish-Islamic culture, through a special dessert called Ashure, or Noah’s Pudding. Traditionally made during the first month of the lunar calendar, this year the season of Noah’s Pudding happened to fall around the same times as the season of Thanksgiving. The story of the dessert, which goes back to the time of Prophet Noah, played a great contribution to the spirit of the evening. When Noah’s ark finally landed on Mount Ararat after the great flood, the people, in celebration of their new home, brought together whatever little food they had left and put it all into one pot, resulting in this special dessert.
The tradition of Ashure, or Noah’s Pudding, is actually a shared culture among the Abrahamic faiths, with similar versions under different names in both Christian and Jewish cultures. Like the message that Thanksgiving holds, Ashure reminds us of the beauty of sharing, brotherhood, and love, teaching us to be thankful for whatever little we may have in our hands, while also reminding us of how we are enriched and how our lives are sweetened when we come together and unite into one.
Everyone enjoyed their servings of Noah’s Pudding, and the four lucky winning guests of the raffle went home with their small gifts as memoirs of the evening spent together. Hopefully, it was a memorable and meaningful evening for all, strengthening the love and connection between neighbors and friends, leaving them in anticipation of future events and occasions to reconnect again and again.