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Introduction

            In July of 1992, a small group of American Jews, Palestinians and supportive others* met for the first time in a living room in San Mateo, California. The intention was to get to know one another on a more personal level, to build trust through overcoming stereotypes and assumptions learned in our separate communities. The approach was to share our personal stories, revealing lives and experiences never heard before by the "other side," often painful and even shocking to hear. Such living room dialogues are still thriving and have expanded to ten groups in the Bay Area in California and more than 50 others around the United States. There are others on high school and college campuses. "An enemy is one whose story we have not heard" is the inspiration behind the Dialogue movement. We hope it inspires and serves as a model for those in conflict. Christians, Muslims and Jews are all represented in these groups as well.
            At each gathering of the Dialogue, one common theme is food. The meetings either begin with food, end with food, or contain food throughout the meeting. One of many things that connect Palestinians and Jews is their love of delicious food. One would almost believe that the conflict is between the kitchens to see who can put out the best spread, be the most generous and creative. When one looks at pictures taken when the group first started and then twelve years later, you can see many of us have GROWN, in size as well as spiritually and emotionally.
            Recently, the original Dialogue group of San Mateo decided that a cookbook was in order. The idea behind the cookbook is that we have all sorts of recipes to share, although not all of them are for food. Some "recipes" describe how to have a better dialogue or how to truly listen to someone. This book also contains the stories behind some of the dishes, why they are favorites, and what a special dish means to a person or family. The request was for recipes that are a family favorite or remind one of a very special ceremony, event or relationship. When possible, we have included a short personal account, allowing the reader to see beyond the recipe to the human story.
            We hope these recipes for building relationships some of the most tasty food enjoyed by the Jewish and Palestinian communities will inspire you to engage in both sustained Dialogue and some delicious meals with newfound friends.
            The recipes in this book are love as well as time intensive. They are not recipes for "fast" foods so we hope you will enjoy both the preparation as well as the consumption. Many of these dishes provide hours of relating during preparation and bring back wonderful memories for special holidays and ceremonies shared with loved ones. The anticipated tastes of time-proven recipes assures they're being passed on from one generation to the next.

                        -- Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies --
                                                                                                                        from Psalm 23

            Whenever we sit down together to break bread, fulfilling the conditions to be met for good relationship, it is a sacred and blessed place.

            *To simplify, this book will refer to Palestinians and Jews. In practice, the Dialogue groups have other participants who are Israeli Jews and Palestinians, diverse Arabs -- Muslims and Christians -- and supportive others.


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