Iftar 2022
Students have an iftar, the meal breaking the daylight fast during Ramadan, at Chapman's Fish Interfaith Center.

Fresh Food is Served for Students Observing Ramadan, Passover

Students observing Ramadan and Passover in the thick of spring semester won’t have to worry about meals thanks to a Chapman University team effort.

Fish Interfaith Center, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Office of Residence Life and Sodexo staff are offering meals for students participating in those observances.

“(Director of Muslim Life) Shaykh Jibreel (Speight) and I worked together to provide some education and background to the DEI office about what is Ramadan and what is Passover and how do food practices work based on our traditional sources,” says Director of Jewish Life Andrea Siegel, Ph.D.

Ramadan and Passover

Iftar schedule: March 28, 7:10 p.m.; April 4, 7:15 p.m.; April 10, 7:20 p.m.; April 17, 7:25 p.m.; Eid celebration (end of Ramadan), April 24, 7:30 p.m.

Ramadan meals (pre-dawn and sunset) will be available March 22-April 24. Students with meal plans can contact email maiywhite@chapman.edu or cedavis@chapman.edu

Kosher food for Passover will be available for breakfast, lunch and dinner April 6-13. Information will be posted at @chapmanjewishlife on Instagram.

Students without meal plans, faculty and staff can buy five meal tickets at a discount. Those interested can contact interfaith@chapman.edu or Speight for Ramadan, jspeight@chapman.edu and Siegel for Passover, ansiegel@chapman.edu

Students fasting during Ramadan – the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which starts the evening of March 22 – can sign up for meals each day. During the 29 to 30 days of the lunar month of Ramadan, which commemorates the revelation of the Quran, able Muslims must fast between dawn and sunset.

For the first time, students can pick up a snack to break their fast at sunset, a nighttime meal and a pre-dawn meal for the next day, says Speight (LLM ’20).

“This is definitely an improvement as far as anything we offer,” he says.

Interested students can fill out an interest form that will lead them to a meal request form. Speight is working with residence life and Sodexo to designate places students can pick up meals outside dining hall hours – like the basement of Henley Hall and at Rinker Health Sciences Campus – and ensuring there are microwaves available.

Students at Rinker don’t need to sign up for meal pickup. Meals will be available daily around the clock at two grab-and-go stations and 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Aspretto station.

Additionally, students, faculty and staff can attend a community iftar, the Ramadan post-sunset meal. Fish Interfaith is hosting the dinners – including Chapman’s first Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan celebration – and distributing a flier with an RSVP QR code. The Muslim Student Association will promote meals on social media.

“It speaks to Chapman’s desire to tell students, ‘If you’re Muslim, consider going to Chapman because this is here for you,’” Speight says. “When I was in school and converted to Islam, I didn’t have access to any of this – I had to fend for myself.”

During Passover, Randall Dining Commons will serve kosher food for Passover April 6-13. Passover commemorates the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt as told in Jewish scripture. In addition to food being prepared kosher, it must also be unleavened during Passover. 

Preparing an area in the dining hall for kosher food prep has been a “labor of love,” Siegel says.

Sodexo staff worked for months to outfit an area of Randall for kosher food preparation, source ingredients and plan the menu, she says.

“All the extra hours put into this have been done with care and kindness – it means a lot to the Jewish community,” she says.

Any student with meal plans can try kosher breakfast, lunch and dinner during Passover. 

Students without meal plans, faculty and staff who want to eat Passover and Ramadan meals can buy packs of five meal tickets at a discount.

It’s the first year Sodexo will make fresh meals on site – in the past, pre-packaged kosher meals were brought in from a vendor, Siegel says.

“This is a really big deal because there just aren’t that many kosher caterers in Orange County,” she says.

Chapman’s Chabad and Hillel student groups will have seders and will promote the dining hall meals on social media. Chabad’s rabbi worked with his contacts to ensure kosher supervision at all times during Passover, Siegel says.

“I really want this to feel like an all-campus effort to promote a sense of belonging for Jewish students; that the university is listening to the needs of the Jewish community on campus and working really hard to meet those needs for Passover,” she says.

She and Speight both hope faculty, staff, students and visitors from all backgrounds try the food.

“The menu looks delicious – I hope people come,” Speight says. 

Siegel says she’s gotten emails from students, faculty and staff “excited that this is happening.”

“When the directors of Muslim and Jewish life approached us for assistance in bringing this to a reality for our community, we believed it to be a natural fit for our work in promoting a more inclusive campus community,” says Gabriela Castaneda, Ed.D., director of Latinx achievement in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “It was clearly a DEI initiative, and we were happy to provide leadership.”

Joy Juedes