What would it take to brings Jews and Palestinians together? Apparently, some homeless folks to help and a large pie. From the Albany-Democrat Herald, an interesting icebreaker took place courtesy of “Project Provide A Home,√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ launched by Palisades Emergency Residence Corp. of Union City…

The shelter hosted a group of Jewish volunteers one week, and another group of Muslims shortly afterward. The symbolism — and the possibilities — were not lost on the executive director, Matt Kamin, a Jew, and Amal Abdallah, a Palestinian who helps line up volunteers to serve meals. “We were trying to figure out why our communities didn’t get along,’’ Kamin said. “We started talking and said, ‘Why can’t we get these two groups together and do something?’ It was that easy.’’ The first meeting was somewhat awkward, with all the Jewish girls sitting on one side, and all the Muslim girls sitting on the other — each side eyeing the other curiously, if not warily.

“One of the girls asked me, ‘How do you pray?’ and I was so surprised at the question,’’ said Aviva Bannerman, a 17-year-old from Montclair. “I thought everybody knew that Jews pray in groups and we sing our songs aloud, but no one had ever taught her that. I asked her how she prayed, and they use a prayer mat and it’s more subdued and quiet. I go to a Jewish school and I’m surrounded by Jews 24/7, so I was delighted to be able to share about my religion and share in theirs.’’

“That was a rule we agreed on coming into this project, and I’m glad it exists,’’ wrote Liliane Winograd, a 17-year-old West Orange resident. “As much as I am interested in seeing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from another perspective, I like that we are able to talk comfortably without the possibility of an argument breaking out.’’

Or as Rebecca Heller, 16, of Cranford added, “We could all just sit together, eating pizza and laughing, without a thought to our feuding ancestors or political tensions.’’

And we bet it looks great on those college applications, too.

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local. liz@montclairlocal.news

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