World Peace One Falafel at a Time – A New Non-Profit

by Lee Frankel-Goldwater and Zack Korenstein

We imagine a world in which peoples of all walks of life and political orientations can share a meal together in peace and harmony. We believe that by sharing a simple meal together boundaries can disappear, discussion becomes possible, and healing can begin. We are World Peace One Falafel at a Time, and we would like to share our story with you.

About 10 years ago in New York City, a group of Jewish and Palestinian Americans joined together at a local restaurant for dialogue around the Middle East conflict over plates of fresh falafel. After many conversations, press coverage, and inspiring moments we realized we had found something special. We had sown the seed of an idea that reignited as a 501c3 non-profit this past year. At the heart of our work is a gathering and conversation around a shared plate. For those amidst the Middle East conflict, falafel represents a common ground, it is shared memories though we may yet to have meet each other, it is a starting point for shared experience, it is a starting point for commonality.

Founded by two Arava Institute alumni and a mutual friend, World Peace One Falafel at a Time has started on a journey to support these depolarizing conversations around a shared plate of food. Our aim is not to have one such meeting of a thousand, but 100 meetings of 10, to support peace-building efforts by local activists and facilitators across the world. Inspired by our time at the Arava Institute, we believe that through our shared efforts as a community, anything is possible.

Already, five Arava Institute alumni from across North America and the Middle East have volunteered to learn the skills for holding One Falafel gatherings as our first group of facilitators. We are excited to support them in creating peace-building conversations around challenging topics in their local communities. We are fortunate to have developed incredible partnerships in support of this work as well, among them with the CU Boulder Dialogues Project and the Friends of the Arava Institute. Our goal is to create a network for action in support of peace and conflict resolution that knows no borders. Through these partnerships and our growing network we are learning how and taking action to do so.

We are honored to be Arava Institute alumni and to connect alumni together for this important mission. We would love to hear from you if you would like to get involved or have ideas to support our next steps. You can sign up with your email address here or visit our website to learn more.

Despite the pandemic which has impacted many of our lives, our nonprofit has made incredible strides. We are gearing up to have our first in-person gatherings when it is safe to do so and digital gatherings before then. In the midst of these trying political times, we believe this work is more important than ever.

Lee Frankel-Goldwater and Zack Korenstein are alumni of the Arava Institute from 2010 and 2000, respectively. Lee lives in Boulder, CO and is a PhD student at the University of Colorado, focusing on education and environmental governance. Zack lives in Brooklyn, NY and works in environmental health & safety consulting. They co-founded World Peace One Falafel at a Time in January 2020.

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