Muslim-Jewish-Christian Dialogue is growing and more vibrant than ever, in North American and the Middle East.

    In Jerusalem, "Love your neighbor as yourself" was explored in depth last month by young women and men -- Jews, Christian, Muslims -- from the Nablus Youth Federation and the Interfaith Encounter Association in Israel.
     December 2004 marked the last of their 12 seminars over 3 years, faithfully sustained after being born at the height of military invasions and suicide bombings.
     The youth were not to be denied understanding of one another and great teachings from different religious perspectives.
     Organizer Yehuda Stolov (  ) urges to see their inspiring story and photos at:

     The newborn Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims continues coming to life, building bridges to one another and sharing rituals.
     Barbara Landau ( ) and Shahid Akhtar ( ) are co-chairs in Toronto, Canada, where they increase the numbers of Canadians who are building bridges to one another, sharing ritual events, and recently joining hands to work together at a Food Bank.

     Vancouver, BC Canadian Muslims and Jews (CAJM) are actively working together to continue the holy journey of bringing their two communities into a positive, supportive and knowledgeable realitionship -- "inshallah, be-ezrat ha-Shem, with the help of God, -- step-by-step, person-to-person, heart-to-heart," from three approaches, writes Rabbi David Mivasair ( ).
     1.  Religious learning and sharing -- Imam Fode and Rabbi Mivasair will offer three monthly Sunday afternoon opportunites to learn and explore Muslim and Jewish teachings about "Hearing."
     2.  Open dialogue among us to learn about one another's life experiences and points of view.
     3.  Serving others together, wishing to come together to meet the needs of people around us to provide meals and companionship for others, get to know each other in a different context. Their models are the sisters and brothers from Masjid ul-Haqq Mosque who have prepared and served meals in a shelter at a United Church in the Downtown Eastside on Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.
     Visit  CAJM's new Web site at .

     Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Kansas City, Kansas were the subject of this weekend's newspapers, in the Middle East and U.S.A.
     With unprecedented community interest, they are planning a grand "Salaam Shalom Celebration" around food to accelerate their relationship-building activities.
     It is exclusively a collaboration of individuals and not sponsored, endorsed, or funded by any single organization.
     They are inviting citizens who believe quite simply that the long lasting road to peace is built by developing relationships and understanding between different cultures.
     Co-chairpeople are Muslim Mahnaz Shabbir ( ), Jewish Gayle Krigel ( ), and Palestinian Christian, Nick Awad ( ).
     Local press coverage of this breakthrough moment for Kansas City is at:

                The Kansas City Star -- Saturday, 15 January 2005
                Building bridges: Organizers of event in Leawood want to foster dialogue

                The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle -- Fridiay, 14 January 2005
                Salaam Shalom: Kansas Citians plan interfaith food festival of goodwill

                The newsletter of CRES -- Community Resources Engaging the Spirit -- promoting
                understanding among peoples of all faiths in Kansas City

     Now read what made its way to the Israeli press today.

     What is done in one soul, one home or one community travels and affects everyone, everything.
     All is truly one -- interconnected and interdependent.
     And more and more people are beginning to live that way.
                        -- L&L

Published in Ha'aretz newspaper -- Israel -- Sunday, 16 January 2005

Arab-Jewish coexistence turns
moveable feast in Kansas City

By Orna Dickman, Haaretz Correspondent

     Coexistence between Arabs and Jews can be a supreme challenge. Or it can be a party.
     In fact, a moveable feast.
     Adhering to the belief that peace is built on understanding between different cultures, a group of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Kansas City is organizing an interfaith dinner aimed at building bridges and relationships.
     The celebration is modeled on an annual Arab-Jewish "hafla," or party, held outside the mixed Israeli town of Ramle for more than a dozen years, its participants undeterred by the wars and uprisings of the region.
     Eric Morgenstern, a volunteer organizer of the Kansas City event, says the Salaam Shalom Celebration, scheduled to take place in Leawood, Kansas on January 30, will be a testament to the power of individual relationships.
     The impetus for the Celebration came when members of Kansas City's delegation to the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities visited a restaurant in Ramle last year. While dining at the Ramle eatery, they heard about an annual party which brings Jews and Arabs together, hosted by the restaurant owner, Samir Dabit, and his friend, educator David Leichman of Kibbutz Gezer.
     Dabit, originally from Jaffa, and Leichman, originally from Brooklyn, New York, met in 1981, and have thrown haflas promoting peace and coexistence for the past 13 years.
     What began as something held in Leichman's backyard on the kibbutz has blossomed and expanded into a huge celebration held in Pinat Shorashim, an educational park on the kibbutz, with some 500 people attending last year's gathering.
     The Kansas City metropolitan area has had a unique relationship with Ramle and its surrounding environs for over a decade. Kansas City, Missouri and Ramle are sister cities, as are Leawood, Kansas and the Gezer Regional Council. More than 1,000 Kansas Citians have visited the region in recent years.
     Organizers of the Salaam Shalom Celebration will be flying Leichman, Dabit, and Dabit's son-in-law, Fouad Salman, to Kansas City, to take part in the event and to spread the concept that Leichman terms "people dialoguing." The three will also meet with local civic leaders, and are scheduled to attend a clergy breakfast.
     Leichman says that the annual parties that he and Dabit host aim to break down barriers and bring about the recognition that, "We are one people, and one community, no matter what part of the community we identify with."
     He encourages people to look for the unifying forces that community members have in common, while celebrating their differences. Leichman believes that people can bring peace, and that the concept of "Shlom Bayit," or domestic harmony, can be achieved by people and not necessarily by the government.

'No better way'

     Organizers of the events in both Kibbutz Gezer and Kansas City stress that the parties are not sponsored or funded by any organizations, but are the private initiative of people who want to reach out, spend time together, and build relationships.
     Dabit noted that Leichman's father helps fund their parties on Kibbutz Gezer. In explaining why he provides the money for the annual haflas, Gil Leichman said he feels that "I can think of no better way to spend my money than to help bring Arabs and Jews together."
     According to Morgenstern, the public's response to the Salaam Shalom Celebration has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition to financial donations made by various individuals, Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn announced that the municipality would be donating the use of the Alpine Lodge at Leawood Ironwoods Park for the event.
     The Palestinian-owned Jerusalem Cafe in Kansas City will provide the use of its kitchen, in which Dabit will prepare Middle Eastern cuisine for the event.
     In addition to the Middle Eastern cuisine and music that will be offered at the Celebration, Morgenstern said that various discussion topic questions would be introduced, as a means of encouraging people to communicate their ideas on a number of relevant issues, including interfaith relations.
     Salman, who works for the United States Agency for International Development for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said that he is excited about taking part in the Salaam Shalom Celebration, noting that it is very important that Jews, Muslims, and Christians are coming together and acknowledging that certain problems need to be addressed.
     "I appreciate the fact that they recognize the problems and want to help," says Salman, stressing that even if various problems aren't solved, dialogue is extremely important.
    "The least we can do is talk. Even if we don't agree, we must listen to and respect one another."