Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group

- Participants -

Huda Abu Arquob is a Muslim Palestinian from the West Bank city of Hebron, where her family has lived for centuries. Growing up under military occupation, Huda witnessed countless acts of violence, including assassinations, shootings of family members, invasions into her home, jailing of her father and uncle, assaults on her school, and daily humiliation. Despite these challenges, she was raised valuing human life of her own people and all others. Huda helped bring up her eleven siblings while earning a B.A. in Education and English Literature with a Palestinian Authority scholarship for teachers. She then became a Fulbright Scholar, earning an M.A. in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University. Huda successfully worked in numerous NGOs dedicated to high ethics of human rights and social justice. Since 2007 she has been Co-Executive Director of Abraham's Vision, working within and between the Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, and Palestinian communities to transform students' understanding of themselves, the "other," and their world. She has also instructed at the University of San Francisco. A model to both youth and adults of exemplary communication, Huda embodies the principles and courage our world needs.

Mohammed Issa Abufayyad is a devout Muslim from Khan Younis, Palestine. As a young teen in the "Seed Peace" program, he traveled into Israel with other Palestinian youth to build relationships with Jewish peers. Later Mohammed was part of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Gaza Branch, helping families in the Second Intifada who lost homes and other life needs. At that time, he was also a medical rescuer with his family's Fayyad Clinic Center, carrying to the hospital severely war-injured children and adults, inspiring him to become a physician to his people. Graduating high school with the highest grades in southeast Gaza, Mohammed completed pre-medical studies first during 2004-2006 at Cairo University and Sixth of October University, Egypt, transferring in 2006 to San Francisco State University to graduate in Human Physiology and Biochemistry. A strong participant in the 2007 Palestinian-Jewish Peacemakers Camp, Mohammed sustains his dedication to ongoing Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue. Since age 13, eight of Mohammed's cousins were killed during the conflict - five during 2008. Yet he holds to his vision of expanding human engagement and deepening relationships that build confidence and create real Middle East and worldwide community.

Raeda Ashkar grew up in Nazareth, Israel, where her Palestinian roots go back as far as the family can remember. Her landowner-grandfather was a philanthropist to others in Palestine and neighboring nations. Excelling at the University of Haifa-Oranin, she received the Minister of Education Award for Arab Students. After teaching math and physics in Israeli Catholic and publics schools, in 1999 Raeda with her husband and three children moved to Silicon Valley. She pursues her Masters in Math Education while instructing at DeAnza College, where she was 2008 Tutor of the Year. After 10 years, Raeda continues bringing exemplary intelligence and dedication to Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue.

Elias Botto was born in Jerusalem, Palestine. In late 1947, due to increasing violence in the region, his family moved to Bethlehem, in the West Bank. In 1954, he emigrated to America and worked in medical technology at the University of California Hospital, San Francisco. Later Elias owned and directed daily operations for San Francisco’s Grand-B Garment Manufacturing and Contracting, serving Esprit, Levi Strauss, and other smaller manufacturers nationwide. He is a member of the San Francisco Fashion Industry Association. A 32nd degree Mason, Mr. Botto supports the medical assistance work of the Shriners. He is active in the charitable work of the Bethlehem Association and of U.S.O.M.E.N., the United States Organization for Medical and Educational Needs, providing needed humanitarian services to people in the Middle East.

Fanny Botto was raised in Santiago, Chile, in a Palestinian family with roots in Bethlehem. In Chile she studied at the Red Cross School of Nurses and in the Goethe Institute. An early Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group member, Fanny participates in the charitable activities of the Bethlehem Associaton. She is presently co-compiling for the Dialogue a new book of Palestinian and Jewish food -- "Recipes for Peace."

Robbie Franco was born in San Francisco. Her maternal and paternal great-grandfathers were rabbis in Czarist Russia, from where the families fled persecution. Robbie was very active in United Synagogue Youth before earning her degree in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was in Alpha Epsilon Phi Jewish sorority. In 1972, Robbie left for Israel for thirteen years. Living on Kibbutz Tel Itzhak, she undertook numerous responsibilities from farming to leadership on the Executive Board. In 1986, married with three children, Robbie returned to California and assumed leadership in the Parent Teacher Association for ten years. She and her husband are members of conservative Congregation Beth Jacob. Robbie remains a strong supporter of Women for Women International, helping women victims of war move from crises and poverty to self-sufficiency worldwide.

Eric Gattmann, a Holocaust refugee from Nazi Germany, is Professor Emeritus in Social Sciences,College of San Mateo, where he continues to teach his popular course, Current World Affairs. Professor Gattman has been honored for his teaching and public service activities by Hadassah, Brandeis University, ORT, and others. He is a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council. Eric is often an invited speaker for Rotary International, ReCare, and Elderhostel groups, and he donates time to the work of Samaritan House. The Gattmannns are members of Peninsula Temple Beth El and of Temple Sholom.

Hildegard “Hilde” Gattmann, is a Holocaust refugee from Nazi Germany where 16 of her close relatives perished. She is on the Social Action Committee of Peninsula Temple Beth El and is a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council. Hilde and Eric received a special 30th Anniversary Israel Bond Award in recognition of their devoted service. As a professional Social Worker, Hilde worked for Mills Peninsula Senior Focus, the Burlingame Easter Seal Society, and ReCare, after creating the innovative Elder Abuse Prevention Program for Catholic Charities. Hilde has taught “Living and Thinking Positively” for the College of San Mateo Emeritus Institute.

Lareen Miller Jacobs, born in Brooklyn, New York, was influenced by her great-grandfather Reb Shimshon -- his town's melamed (teacher) who traveled through Poland establishing Jewish schools. She earned her Education B.A. at Brooklyn College then M.A. from Hofstra University. First an elementary school teacher in New York and California, she later became a part-time private school director then adult literacy education specialist. Affected from youth by the Holocaust and wars worldwide, in the 1980s Lareen traveled in the U.S. educating and touching people's lives in the successful Beyond War movement. She now expresses her knowledge of war's obsolescence with dedicated participation in Palestinian-Jewish Dialogue.

Aktham Ahmad Jarrar is descended from Palestinian Muslims who lived in Nablus and Jenin -- owning land, farming,refining olive oil, trading with the Arab world for as long as his family can remember. Born in Bahrain, his education through high school was in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Talented in physics, art, and writing, Aktham -- an Eagle Scout -- was honored even nationally for his paintings, writing skills, and speaking. At age 17, he came on his own to Kansas, USA, earning his degree in Electrical Engineering. He then studied Business, Marketing, and Photography at DeAnza College and San Jose State University. Aktham was an electronics technician at Varian Associates, and is presently a self-employed photographer and entrepreneur. Aktham is passionate about helping his Palestinian people and others, and traveled to New Orleans to volunteer after Hurrican Katrina.

Sandra Kahn was born and raised in Mexico City, the descendant of Russian Jewish immigrants. Fluent in Hebrew, she lived on a kibbutz in Israel as part of the Zionist youth movement, Hashomer Atzair. Dr. Kahn now practices Orthodontics in Pacifica and in Redwood City, Calif., and has taught at University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. She is an active member of Rotary International.

Maida Phyllis Kasle(October 1, 1918-October 20, 2010) taught Kindergarten at Peninsula School for 24 years. An artist and art teacher, she studied at Toledo University, Ohio State University, and the Chicago Art Institute. Both of her grandfathers were Russian immigrant rabbis. Maida was a founder of the cooperative Bethesda- Chevy Chase Jewish Religious School, then in California helped with the building fund for the first Temple Beth Am in Los Altos.

Carol W. Kittermaster (deceased January 2006) was co-founder of the Jewish- Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group, and she was a founding member of the visionary, ongoing work of Sustainable San Mateo County. She studied at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and is a career actress and model. Carol is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Carl Robert Landman (Sept 13, 1920 - Sept 20, 2011)left Nazi Germany where he was Bar Mitzvah in 1933 in Mannheim. In America he carried on his father’s lithography profession, before pioneering packaged gourmet coffee beans with his Carl Landman Company -- Landmark. He was President of the Board of Trustees for P.A.R.C.A., and was on the Board of Trustees of Peninsula School. Carl was a Trustee for Gateway Center, a facility for developmentally disabled adults.

Doris Landman was educated at Ohio Wesleyan and Wellesley College, and was an accounting professional in the fields of advertising and design. She is formerly the elected President of the Boards of Trustees of the Ravenswood City School District, and was on the Board of Peninsula School and of the Parents Association of San Mateo County. The Landmans have been married over 55 years.

David Leventhal was born in North Carolina and spent his early childhood in Mexico City. Back in the U.S. he participated in B'nai B'rith youth activities. David graduated from the University of North Carolina in Communications and is now working full-time for Friends of Calakmul, a non-profit organization he and his wife, Sandra Kahn, founded to save the jaguar and its habitat.

Nazih Malak, a Muslim of Palestinian-Lebanese descent, finished high school in Tripoli, in 1990. He is a Logistic Planner for KLA-Tencor, in Silicon Valley. Nazih studied Political Science at San Jose State University, specializing in the Middle East. In June, 2004, upon receiving his B.A. in Management, St. Mary’s College honored him their distinguished Brother Mel Award for overall excellence in scholarship, citizenship, and contributions to his community. For professional excellence, his employer KLA-Tencor recently gave Nazih $1,000 for the charity of his choice. He gave it to his Arab-Jewish Dialogue of the South Bay, housed in a synagogue. Nazih lives in Fremont with his wife, Dina, and their 2-year-old daughter, Hened.

Arnon Moscona grew up in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, then in Tel Aviv, Israel. He served with the Israel Defense Force in Ramallah, West Bank. Arnon graduated from Tel Aviv University in Mathematics and Computer Science before moving to the U.S. in 1991. He is Director of Development for NexTag, a Silicon Valley Internet commerce company. In 1991 Arnon received the "Best Electronic Support" award of the software industry's Customer Support Association.

Adel Issa Nazzal was born in Ramallah, Palestine, in 1948. His Ramallah roots go back centuries to at least the 1700s. In 1966 Adel graduated from Al-Ahliyyah High School where he was attracted to mathematics and science. He grew up with serious prejudice toward Jews whom he never met until emigrating at age 18 to San Francisco with his family. Adel totally funded his higher education by "flipping burgers" through City College of San Francisco before earning his degree in Chemistry from San Jose State University. A world-class research chemist for IBM from 1974 to retirement in 2003, he was often honored for excellence and inventions, receiving Patent Awards, Innovation Awards, and IBM's Outstanding Technical Contribution Award. Adel was with a team that achieved world record performances in superconductivity. He is a strong spokesperson for his Palestinian people and their narrative, and a champion of Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue and relationship building.

Ellen D. Sanders, born in San Diego, Calif., is a professional cellist and teacher. Her African-American extended family, scattered by slavery and later Emancipation, reunites in North Carolina annually. A cello artist from grade four -- age nine -- from the 7th to 12th grade Ellen was the youngest musician in San Diego's Jewish Community Center Orchestra playing secular music in all the local synagogues. In 1984 she toured Israel, Greece, and Yugoslavia with the San Diego Youth Orchestra. After high school at School of Creative and Performing Arts, Ellen attended Oberlin College for her Bachelor of Music, then earned her Master of Music at the S.F. Conservatory of Music. She is presently cellist for the Opera San Jose, Santa Cruz County Symphony, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony Education Department. Ellen is Conductor of the Philharmonia Youth Orchestra at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Workshop. Her childhood "hunger to learn" has expanded from music to international cooperation, with a special desire to improve Palestinian-Jewish relationships.

Adham Y. Salem grew up in Ramallah where his family has lived since the 1500s. He retired as co-owner and manager of Campus Cafe in San Mateo. Adham participates in the Arab Culture Center and in the charitable work of U.S.O.M.E.N., the United States Organization for Medical and Educational Needs, serving medical and social needs of people in the Middle East. Adham has been a faithful participant and strong supporter of the Dialogue since it's first year.

Nahida Salem was born in Ramallah, Palestine. She was the second woman President of the Ramallah Club of San Francisco, which awarded her Woman of the Year in 1991. Nahida retired as co-owner and proprietor of Campus Cafe, a San Mateo restaurant. She participates in the Arab Cultural Center and in the public service activities of U.S.O.M.E.N., the United States Organization for Medical and Educational Needs, providing needed humanitarian services to people in the Middle East. Nahida has become a public spokeswoman for the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group and for the "public peace process" of reconciliation. In 2000, Nahida was part of the first joint Palestinian-Jewish "Compassionate Listening" journey to the Middle East.

Gerry Sarnat, MD, is the great-grandson of Chaim Gesundheit, Chief Rabbi of Lodz. Gerry graduated from Harvard College then Stanford Medical School. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford Medical School. Since 1976, Gerry has practiced Internal Medicine, taught at Stanford, and served as a health care consultant. He has been Chief Executive Officer or Chief Medical Officer for Camino Healthcare, TakeCare, HealthAmerica Rockridge, and other Bay Area healthcare organizations. Gerry is active in many community organizations. He serves on the board of the Urban Ministry of Palo Alto (UMPA) for the homeless, and volunteers medical care on a regular basis at UMPA and Centro San Jose Obrero. Dr. Sarnat and his wife, Lela Ziff Sarnat, Ph.D., have three children.

Mae Stephen was a Senior Behavioral Scientist at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International). She also worked for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and for the National Institute of Mental Health. She is a member of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, the National Association of Arab Americans, and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Mae has been listed in Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who in the West.

Libby Traubman is a retired clinical social worker. In 1982, in response to the threat of global nuclear war, she was a founding member of the Beyond War Movement, later Foundation for Global Community. In 1991, Libby helped organize the Beyond War conference for Israeli and Palestinian citizen-leaders which resulted in a historic signed document, FRAMEWORK FOR A PUBLIC PEACE PROCESS. She then co-founded the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group of San Mateo, now 18 years old, preparing for its 226th meeting, having inspired dozens of other Dialogues to begin. With Len she co-produced four films -- PEACEMAKERS: Palestinians & Jews Together at Camp; DIALOGUE AT WASHINGTON HIGH; CROSSING LINES IN FRESNO; and ABRAHAM'S VISION GRADUATION DAY! Libby is a Trustee of the Foundation for Global Community, and in 1994 was inducted into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame.

Lionel "Len" Traubman retired in 2000 from his practice of Dentistry for Children in San Francisco. He is a former Director of the San Francisco Dental Society, and was Editor of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and of the California Society of Dentistry for Children. Len was regional alumni President of Alpha Omega Jewish dental fraternity, and received the 1998 Distingushed Alumnus Award of the University of California School of Dentistry, for whom hegave the 2006 Commencement Address. He wrote and published THE ORECKOVSKY FAMILY: FROM RUSSIA TO AMERICA, depicting his pioneer ancestors’ immigration following the first pogroms of the early 1880s. The book resides in 100 libraries in North America and Europe. For 30 years, Len has published on war and peace from personal experience with Russians and Americans, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, Jews and Palestinians, and Muslim and Christian Nigerians.

Henriette Zarour was born in Beit Jala, West Bank, and completed her education in Amman before coming to San Francisco in 1972. She is proprietor of the family’s San Francisco restaurant, Bur-Eat-os. Henriette has devoted herself to the Ramallah Club and to Arab educational and cultural activities all her life, and has discovered an increasing commitment to Palestinian-Jewish dialogue and collaboration.

Nadim Zarour (deceased September 2000, age 49) graduated from San Jose State University in Chemistry. He owned Ramco Insurance and Real Estate Services, specializing in Business Opportunities. San Francisco Mayors appointed Nadim to the Human Rights Commission in 1976 and to the Parking and Traffic Commission in 1996. He was a Director of the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, and was twice President of the S.F. Ramallah Club, which honored him with their Person of the Year Award. A member of the Palestine Arab Fund for 25 years, Nadim was President of the Palestine American Congress, San Francisco Bay Area. He was a devoted advocate and champion of Palestinian-Jewish dialogue for 25 years. We miss Nadim dearly and rededicate ourselves in his memory.

Dr. Miriam L. Zimmerman is Professor Emerita and former Chair of the Communication Department at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. She is co-founder of Divorce Mediation Group, and has been a volunteer mediator for the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. Miriam is a graduate of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, and for six years served as volunteer chair of the North Peninsula Holocaust Remembrance Day. She was a Board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Board president of the Bay Area Holocaust Oral History Project, and vice-president of the Holocaust Center of Northern California. Miriam writes a column for the National Jewish Post & Opinion on themes of religion, women, the Holocaust, current events, and most recently, about Jewish-Palestinian relationship building, to which she is passionately committed.

Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group
1448 Cedarwood Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
Voice: (650) 574-8303 -- Fax:(650) 573-1217

Return to Family Homepage
Return to Main Homepage