Dear colleagues in Jewish-Palestinian dialogue,

     While much news from the Middle East is deeply troubling, here many minds, hearts and doors are opening as never before in recent experience.
     The San Mateo Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group just became nine-years-old at our 109th meeting.  Instead of one, there are now eight similar, yet diverse, groups in the Bay Area.  The idea seems to be moving into new cities and campuses. 
     We thought these examples would interest and encourage you. --L&L
Brooklyn and Manhattan
     In Brooklyn, Marcia Kannry ( -- she lived in Jerusalem for four years -- made the decision to search her neighborhood for Arabs and Jews to begin a dialogue.  She had a lot of help from Frank Bamberger (, Chair of the Social Action Committee of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, a Reform congregation.
     Their introductory evening featured guest speakers Palestinian Aref Dajani ( and his Jewish dialogue partner, Walter Ruby ( from the Encounter Arab-Jewish group across the river in Manhattan.   
     Dialogue is an antidote to powerlessness, said Ruby. This is not a time for Jews to be talking to Jews. This is a time for Jews and Palestinians to be talking to each other.   Dajani described the importance of never withdrawing from these newfound relationships: "If you feel pain in anything I say, let that be an opening for us to create dialogue.
     Over a hundred women and men -- Muslims, Christians, Jews -- attended the first evening, whose success is described by The Jewish Week newspaper, in the online article "Look Who's Talking" at
     The Brooklyn Dialogue Project of Jews and Arabs, and the Manhattan Encounter, meet monthly and continue to grow!
     Some photos of them, and others in New York, are on the Web at

San Diego
     In only months, "quiet" San Diego has birthed four new, well-grounded, sophisticated dialogue groups.  It is quite an inspiration!
     The first was begun by Gordon and Arleen Kahn Shifrin ( 
     Another group includes Maurice Friedman, author of "Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue."  Maurice is the world's leading authority on Martin Buber, who taught and lived a life of inclusiveness.
     Another dynamic dialogue began with participants of Conservative Congregation Beth El in La Jolla.  Convenors include Dr. Manal Swairjo (, and Debbie and Colin Seid (  Doris Bittar and Jim Rauch ( are also backbones of that group.
     At the University of California, San Diego, new Arab-Jewish Dialogue is happening because of Ms. Jamie Zimron (, who offers the studetns affection and depth from her experience with The Compassionate Listening Project.  Here are portions of what Jamie wrote today about their recent meeting:

     "A dozen students were there, including 4 Palestinians.  it was a wide-ranging 3-hr+ discussion, with lots of profound sharing, information that surprised "the other," and total respect with plenty of humor too.  Quite amazing really!

     ". . . we feel we have enough of a nucleus and momentum to continue. 

     "Next Sunday a dear friend of mine, Daniel Mark, will be visiting San Diego with his Palestinian eco-peace activist partner Waseem, a Palestinian Israeli.  Rabbi Laurie Coskey is opening her home in Poway for a group to gather to watch 'Children of Abraham' and have a discussion with Daniel, Waseem, and myself."

     After the last UCSD campus meeting, a Palestinian participant with roots in Ramallah sent this message: "May God above help people like you and myself lead both our peoples into reconciliation and mutual acceptance in a just and comprehensive peace between both nations. It pains me so much to see the two most closely related people on earth fight, kill and fear one another as they do now. . .I really enjoyed our dialogue, and look forward to participating in the next one."