Thanksgiving is what we're feeling.
     There are increasing stories of unprecedented acts of Arabs and Jews -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- crossing old lines toward one another.
     Who are they?  Mostly those in their teens and 20s.  But all ages, really.
     Do you wonder what the future will look like?  Who the new heroes will be?
     Here are six stories with answers.

     The Thanksgiving Coffee Company (you read that correctly) -- -- announced its Mirembe Kawomera ("delicious peace") Coffee grown in Uganda, Africa, by a collective of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian farmers.  They define themselves as people of faith working together for peace, tolerance, and economic justice.  "Not just a cup, but a just cup," they say.
        The Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative
     More than ever before, Muslims in cities coast to coast invited Jews to break their Ramadan fast together.
        Finding unity in breaking the fast:
        Jews and Muslims gather in an interfaith reception
        The Providence Journal -- Providence, Rhode Island -- Friday, 14 October 2005
      In the Holy Land, DJs from Tel Aviv to Ramallah have answered a call to make a new kind of music -- together.
        Coexistence, With A Groove:
        DJ summit in Holy City club brings together
        Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian spinners for a night away from the conflict
        The Jewish Week -- New York, NY -- Friday, 28 October 2005
     The Center for Muslim-Christian-Jewish Understanding -- -- created a two-week tribute to shared culture and cooperation through history.
        The Spirit of Andalusia
        Tarrytown, New York -- November 1-13, 2005

     Muslim, Jewish and Baha'i youth made 2,000 sandwiches to feed people in need in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
        Jewish, Muslim and Baha'i students spread good will.
        Yachad -- Vancouver, BC, Canada -- 25 October 2005

     One final story somehow moved us the most.
     The faces of these young women of excellence.
     The words from their lips.  And hearts and fine minds.
     The determination, refusing to be "enemies" or strangers.
     Insisting on showing the world ". . .we are doing it."

     Consider innovating where you live.
     Feel the joy of these people already inventing their future -- our future.
     Celebrate Thanksgiving.

Published in The Montclair Times -- Montclair, New Jersey -- Wednesday, 16 November 2005
On the Web at

When worlds dont collide:
Jewish and Muslim teens help American homeless family

of The Montclair Times

     Aviva Bannerman, a 17-year-old Conservative Jew, has an unusual interest: hanging out with Muslims.
     Bannerman, along with nine of her Jewish friends and their 10 new Muslim friends, are out to prove the world wrong about Jewish/Muslim relations.
     Their focus?
     Helping an American family thats homeless.
     The 20 teens found one another through Matt Kamin, executive director of PERC, a Union City homeless shelter, which sponsors Project Provide a Home. Kamin and Amal Abdallah, who bring Muslim volunteers to the shelter to help prepare meals, came up with the idea of teenage Jews and Muslims working together after a teen said she was surprised to find out Kamin was Jewish.
     After telephone calls to two religious high schools, Kamin and Abdallah received referrals for 20 teens who were anxious to meet one another.
     Bannerman, a Montclair resident, who attends Solomon Schechter Day School in West Orange, knew she wanted to be a part of the project as soon as her teacher mentioned it. Never having met a Muslim on a personal level before, she remembers the first day well.
     When I walked into the first meeting, all the girls were all sitting in a semi-circle, said Bannerman. Seeing the Jews and Muslims side by side I immediately noticed all the visual differences. The Jews had their hair messily thrown in a loose ponytail or bun, while the Muslims were wearing hijabs, head coveringssome were brown or blue or white and silkysome with rhinestone sparkly looking things. It really makes them look classy.
     She wasnt expecting that some would have accents, she said.
     And I didnt realize how religious the Muslim girls would be, Bannerman said. But then it occurred to me that if we were Orthodox Jews, we would be all covered, too.
     The girls have learned to be sensitive to one another. When meeting during Ramadan, the Jewish girls decided to forgo lunch. To observe kosher tradition, the Muslim girls serve vegetables.
     Theres only one rule: no talking about politics. It doesnt matter, they say, the girls all want to talk about teenager things such as music, movies and shopping as well as their cultural traditions.
     Bannerman said she remembers having an awakening moment in the middle of a conversation.
     One of the girls was talking about a trip, she said. She said she went to Palestine. And then there was silence. And I remember thinking, Wait, what does she mean? And then it hit me. I realized she meant Israel. I never thought of using the word Palestine before. But the next time it came up, one of the Muslim girls said Israel.
     Aseel Najib of Clifton, a Muslim who is in her sophomore year at Al-Ghazaly High School in Teaneck, said shes gotten used to hearing the word Israel.
     Its the same piece of land, said Najib. We just refer to it in different ways.
     She noted that differences did not prevent the girls from forming deep friendships.
     There are all these preconceived notions and conflicts that dont affect us directly, said Najib. But this has given us an opportunity to put those aside and to see for ourselves. I had never had Jewish friends before. Of course, they are perfectly normal. They dont have extra arms or extra legs or anything. But, of course, when we first met we would sneak glances, pretending we werent looking. But after the first word, you couldnt stop us.
     The Muslim teens were curious about many things, including religion, and they wanted to know how the Jewish girls prayed.
     At first the question seemed strangebut then I realized they didnt know we pray out loud together and sing the prayers, said Bannerman, noting the Jewish girls pray three times each day. So then I asked how they pray, and they told us that they pray five times a day and its solitary. We pray out loud and they kind of do it in their heads.
     Whats the best part? Bannerman said although she and the teens consider it all fun, theyre getting the most satisfaction out of getting to know one another while also helping a family.
     This is proof positive that Jews and Muslims can work together. Period, said Kamin.
     The 20 teens, participating in Project Provide a Home, are renovating a home and raising funds to provide furniture, carpeting and food for a family that is currently homeless. We can look beyond. I learned this the day I realized that the word charity in both Arabic and Hebrew is the same: Sedacah.
     As far as Im concerned, it means the religions are cousins and that we should all work together.
     Kamin is proud of Bannerman, Najib, and all of the girls, saying he hopes the effort to bring young Muslims and Jews together spreads across the nation.
     He also hopes one of the many lessons learned is that preconceived notions also encompass poverty. The numbers are staggering, he said. There are 1.4 million homeless children in America. We ignore it, so they are invisible. But we have food pantries and you would be shocked to see who shows up. It shows we all have stereotypes of some kind that arent true. But really, we are all just people.
     The girls are hoping for a large turnout at an interfaith fundraising dinner they are hosting on Sunday, Dec. 18, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fair Lawn Athletic Club in Fair Lawn.
     Bannerman said shes grateful for new friendships, new opportunities and for being able to help. When it strikes her that her friends are Muslim, she says to herself, Yes, they are Muslim. So what?
     Some people were afraid wed end up killing each other, but its amazing what can happen when teenagers get together to talk about teenage things, said Bannerman. Im excited and I want to show the country and the entire world.
     And the thing is, we are doing this by taking the focus off ourselves and helping others. I want to say, Guess what, world? Jews and Muslims can get along. Because you know what? We are people and we are doing it.

The girls are hosting an interfaith fundraising dinner on behalf of the homeless family from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Fair Lawn Athletic Club in Fair Lawn on Sunday, Dec. 18. For tickets, call Matt Kamin at (201) 348-8150. For informa-tion about the homeless shelter, or Project Provide a Home, call (201) 348-8150, or visit the Web site .