CEREMONY -- from time to time in our Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group -- helps us remember our purpose, and celebrate each other and all we do together. 
     Monday, December 9th, was our final 2002 meeting  -- our 128th in ten years -- here on the San Francisco Peninsula.
     Now there are six Dialogues nearby, and many others coming to life on campuses and in many cities.
     In this Season of Light for many peoples, we marked in time  another year of hard-won, fruitful relationships, and our successes in helping people improve relationships and begin to re-direct history, here and overseas.
     The most recent of our dozens of outreach actions are at the bottom of the Web page:

                  http://traubman.igc.org/dg-prog.htm

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     TO BEGIN THE EVENING, we celebrated the reunion of two special guests. 
     Palestinian Ahmed Anabtawi (A_S_Anabtawi@yahoo.com ) from Ramallah had not seen Jewish San Francisco Chronicle writer Leslie Guttman (LGuttman@sfchronicle.com) since they met two years ago in California, inspiring her to publish a remarkable article: ONE MAN'S QUEST FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.  She began:
     "I have met the enemy, and he is .  .  .  pretty nice.  No stones in his hands, only an olive branch. 
     "Ahmed came to my synagogue, a young Palestinian from Ramallah visiting the Bay Area.  He came to our services on a one-man peace mission.  He wanted to meet American Jews to try and figure out a way to end the Mideast violence. 
     "He is tired of seeing funeral processions for people he knows during his walk to work at a software company in the center of town.  The faces of the dead stare down from posters plastered around the city."
     Her article concluded:
     "Back at my congregation, he is getting ready to leave.  He's writing down phone numbers of Jewish contacts in America and Israel, groups and individuals that may be able to help redraw a map for peace.  People are shaking his hand and staying to talk more.  He is surprised. 
     "Ahmed says when he gets back home in a couple of weeks he is going to keep talking -at work, at dinner, in cafes -about building ties with Jews.  He is pushing everyone's buttons, but he doesn't care.  Some of them might say Ahmed is idealistic because he's young, that the cynicism will come in time.  Or that he's a Pollyanna.  So was Nelson Mandela.  I just think Ahmed is one of those people who can see in the dark."
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     PHOTOGRAPHS of our year-end gathering are on the Web, at:

              http://www.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b30d74ec844b

     You will see the Leslie and Ahmed telling their story.
     Then moments of celebrating one another with joy and lightness.
     To end the night and our year, we gathered in a dimly lit room.  Each person offered a prayer of hope and gratitude, while lighting a candle to place at the base of a large globe of Earth.
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     Finally, we gathered outdoors to finish planting a symbolic olive tree in the night -- in the dark, like these times in the Middle East.
     Each woman and man shoveled soil to finish the planting.
     Like the public peace process of Dialogue itself, we expect plentiful fruit in future times of light and new relationships between our equally human and excellent peoples.
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     For us, ceremony matters. 
     We remember our gratitude for the PAST. 
     We celebrate our PRESENT, vital relationships -- growing together, expanding the circle of Palestinians and Jews, here and in the Middle East. 
     And we re-dedicate ourselves to discover a FUTURE that will benefit all -- neighbors forever.

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