“Yalla” reads the yellow letters on the brilliant crimson meals truck parked in entrance of the Pupil Well being Middle on weekdays.

A phrase derived from ‘ya Allah“, yalla is often utilized by each Arabic and Hebrew audio system within the Center East to convey a way of urgency, to shout “let’s go!”

Daniel Alexander, one of many operators of the Yalla meals truck, translated the phrase as “Hurry up, let’s go, let’s transfer.” which he says is ideal for the truck’s goal: to ship quick meals to hungry clients.

This hustle and bustle is clear when visiting the truck. Alexander works the window and chats with college students, usually recognizing returning patrons by identify. The scent of contemporary Mediterranean delicacies, together with pita sandwiches, hummus bowls and limonana, a mint lemonade of Lebanese origin, wafts from the truck’s kitchen.

However the linguistic intersection of Yalla’s identify additionally speaks to the truck’s bigger mission to function an interfaith bridge between Duke’s Muslim and Jewish communities.


“Inventive Methods to Reply to This Persistent Polarization”

Yalla is the primary meals truck to be each kosher and halal licensed in Durham, and the primary orthodox kosher licensed meals truck in North Carolina.

“It serves the Jewish and Muslim communities, that are very observant in relation to dietary restrictions, and it additionally serves your entire Duke group, not simply Jews and Muslims,” ​​stated Imam Abdullah Antepli, affiliate professor of interfaith follow. . “After I go, I see these pockets of actually inspiring conversations on account of this meals tradition.”

Antepli, who just lately gained the Anti-Defamation League’s Daniel Pearl Award for selling interfaith dialogue and non secular tolerance between Jews and Muslims, first got here to Duke because the college’s first Muslim chaplain in 2008. He’s additionally an Affiliate Professor of Follow. on the Sanford College of Public Coverage.

He’s accountable for issuing Yalla’s halal certification, a Muslim normal for a weight loss plan based mostly on steering from the Koran.

“Leaders in these communities want to seek out artistic methods to answer this ongoing polarization, to deliver our communities collectively in essentially the most significant manner potential,” Antepli stated.

His sentiments had been echoed by Rabbi Nossen Felig, co-director of the Fleishman Home, residence of Duke’s Chabad group. Fellig gives the truck with kosher certification to satisfy Jewish meals preparation requirements. His function is shared by a full-time kosher supervisor on the truck.

Antepli identified that Israeli-Palestinian conflicts have grown, bringing ideological divisions to varsity campuses. Duke isn’t any stranger to those conflicts, together with the talk over Duke Pupil Authorities funding for pro-Palestinian audio system in March 2022 and the backlash from some college students at a speaker occasion in April.

Nevertheless, the 2 religions share greater than most individuals notice, Antepli stated.

“We’re two completely different religions with extremely comparable moral and ethical values,” Antepli stated. “Our religion in a dwelling God, that our God is concerned in each facet of our lives, together with our meals, is so comparable.”

As a substitute of simply taking a look at politics and claiming that Jews and Muslims are destined to hate one another, Antepli stated individuals can look by way of the lens of delicacies and culinary tradition to know that the 2 teams usually are not.

Via Yalla, Fellig and Antepli hope to attach the 2 non secular teams by way of their ancestral roots.

“Abraham, our widespread grandfather, noticed meals as greater than a way of transportation, extra of a way of training,” Felig says. “The Bible speaks of a tabernacle within the wilderness that fed the hungry, nevertheless it wasn’t only for the aim of feeding the hungry, it was actually there with an interior mission to coach, information and encourage.”

Fellig and Antepli work collectively to find out which meals the truck will serve that meet each kosher and halal necessities. For instance, at one level Fellig wished to incorporate a chocolate ball dessert that features rum, which is suitable beneath kosher requirements however, as Antepli knowledgeable him, just isn’t acceptable beneath halal requirements.

Kosher requirements are typically stricter than halal requirements, in keeping with Antepli. If one thing is strictly kosher, excluding alcohol, that interprets nicely theologically and religiously to halal.

“It’s a testimony of our friendship and the dignity of the entire undertaking. If solely the truck served alcohol and cleaned up correctly… [the truck] should still be halal on the primary degree,” Antepli stated. “However due to Rabbi Nossen’s and the Chabad group’s dedication to Jewish-Muslim cooperation, they would not contact. [this dessert] ever.”


From left, Rabbi Nossen Fellig, co-director of the Fleishman Home, and Imam Abdullah Antepli, affiliate professor of interfaith follow, work collectively to determine which meals the truck will serve that meet each kosher and halal necessities.

Holding issues inexpensive

Nearly every little thing at Yalla, besides their pitas and fries, is comprised of scratch and served the identical day. As a result of no place in North Carolina prepares meat to the requirements of the truck, the meat have to be shipped from Atlanta, Ga. All different elements are sourced domestically and the hummus is made in home.

Even with all these issues, Yalla’s menu costs are corresponding to most campus distributors. Typically the truck affords offers like pita punch playing cards, 25% off for referring a buddy, and typically free lemonade.

“After I began working [Fellig]He stated. “You already know, it is good if we generate profits, however that is not why we’re doing it,” Alexander recalled.

Yalla’s accessibility is made potential by the assist of the group behind it.

“[Donors] noticed this imaginative and prescient that [Antepli] and I needed to deliver communities collectively … a light-weight to the nations and … function mannequin for different colleges,” Fellig stated.

A gaggle of Duke alumni ultimately got here collectively to purchase the truck, which price greater than $200,000, Felig stated, and a donation from the college allowed the truck to open.

“Belongs to the Duke panorama”

The quick goal of Yalla is to tell in regards to the truck.

“I do not suppose we have reached the campus vast but,” Alexander stated.

Fellig says they’ve gotten nice suggestions from college students “in regards to the meals itself, that it is scrumptious, however … additionally in regards to the total thought of ​​it, how progressive it was.”

“[Yalla] belongs to the Duke panorama,” Antepley stated, noting that many school and employees members additionally frequent the truck.

Fellig and Antepli prioritize growing the truck’s availability and scheduling extra programming across the Jewish and Muslim non secular calendars. Antepli famous that the upcoming Ramadan and Pesach holidays will give Yalla a chance to construct a group.

Within the extra distant future, each are open to the thought of ​​opening one other Yalla truck elsewhere.

“We had a few different universities attain out to me interested by doing the identical thought,” Felig stated.

Antepli recalled among the authentic skeptics of the undertaking who made comparable feedback. “There’s a conflict within the Center East, individuals are dying. There may be quite a lot of hate and also you guys are simply doing this lovely undertaking. What distinction will this make?’

Those that noticed the undertaking as a drop within the bucket, he stated, got here after seeing the relationships fashioned, the training supplied and the stereotypes and bigotry dispelled by Yalla.

“These drops are so qualitatively highly effective. it could actually quantity to only one drop. However once you put a drop of sunshine in a bucket of darkness, it actually lights up a a lot bigger area,” Antepli stated.

Anisha Reddy
|: Senior Editor

Anisha Reddy is a junior at Trinity and senior editor for Quantity 118 of The Chronicle.

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