11th October 2023

Following Saturday’s news of Hamas’ rocket attack on Israel, we prayed on Sunday for those caught up in the escalating violence and for those with influence; we prayed that ultimately there might be a political peace settlement.

How do we best relate to, comprehend, what this means for all the people affected? Alongside engaging with news reports, I’m thinking about other small but nevertheless tangible links – through food!

Over recent years, we’ve had occasion to enjoy gifts of olive oil, almonds and dates from Zaytoun, a social enterprise that supports Palestinian farmers through fair trade. Then there are my Ottolenghi cookbooks.

Business partners Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi were born in 1968 in Jerusalem, growing up in the Jewish and Arab sides of the city respectively. Thirty years later they met for the first time in London and started working together in the food business. Their recipes are wonderful, but I’ve also always liked the picture of these two men joining forces, despite all that potentially could have kept them apart.

A Gazan called Omar is quoted in another of my cookbooks (Zaitoun, Yasmin Khan):

“People in Gaza really love life… we don’t take life for granted. If there is darkness, we manage to find some light; if there is ugliness, we manage to find some beauty; if there is despair, we find or create some hope… This is the image of Gaza I would like people to know about. We are… just humans like everyone else in the world, waking up to life every day and looking for the chance to be happy”.

We pray for peace and hope.

Ruth Allen