Food… what better way to bring people together to bridge gaps, solve problems and really learn who people are? The Bread and Salt Between us is a story about food and love. For Holiday 2018, Glenn and I would like to share the gift of food and love with our CGNY Community. Read on…
For over 20 years, Glenn and I have been actively involved in Rutgers Church, our spiritual home on Manhattan’s Upper Westside. We were originally drawn to Rutgers through its unique, diverse community coupled with their desire to support the creation of a just, loving and peaceful world for all. The church has a long history of peace and social activism— something Glenn and I are extremely passionate about.
Our Pastor regularly discusses social issues and a few years ago, began to focus on the hardships of refugees fleeing from various regions of the world due to war and lack of resources. After some brain storming, the Rutgers Church Community formed the Refugee Task Force— a team of volunteers dedicated to plan and implement different strategies to can provide direct, hands-on aid to refugees and their families.
In 2016, the Refugee Task Force began sponsoring families that have been resettled by Church World Services in New Jersey. Church World Services is an organization that works with refugee families, helping them through immigration and helping them adapt to everyday life in the United States. The Church World Service invites different community and church organizations to take part in assisting refugee families. Part of their responsibility then becomes to arrange housing and support for displaced people.
Rutgers teamed up with the Church World Service and we were notified three weeks prior to our first family’s arrival. We scrambled to turn an unfurnished apartment in Jersey City, NJ into the Anjari’s cozy, new home. The task force sent out a list of supplies the family would need and together with the UWS community, Rutgers collected donations to make their new home really special. Church members cleaned and furnished the apartment, filling the refrigerator with fresh, Halal food. Rutgers members greeted the Anjari’s at the airport in winter 2016 with open arms, smiles and winter coats for their four children.
After six months of transitioning and settling into their new life, Mayada Anjari invited Rutgers Church staff and members to her home for dinner with her family. Growing up in the kitchen with her mother and sister, Mayada knew the culinary secrets necessary to create the perfect, delicious Syrian dishes! At the time, Mayada’s English was very limited, so food was her way of saying “thank you” to the community of friends who were helping her and her family to start a new life… as NEW AMERICANS!
Everyone LOVED Mayada’s cooking! As a way for Mayada to support her family with extra income, one of the dinner attendees suggested that Rutgers begin hosting fundraiser dinners featuring Mayada’s Syrian specialties. The Mayada and Friends Benefit Dinner Series was born!
Mayada would prepare the meals and members and friends of the Rutgers community purchased tickets. All proceeds earned were donated directly to the Anjari family. Glenn and I volunteered to serve at the dinners, meeting so many fantastic people and enjoying the various dishes Mayada created! It was fascinating to observe how food created a bridge, bringing the many dinner guests of different nationalities and cultures together. Mayada was giving us a piece of her Syrian home…in essence, a piece of herself. It was really special.
Several attendees at the Benefit Dinners worked in the fine food industry. They were so impressed with Mayada’s cooking that they formed a team and volunteered their time and talent to help produce a cookbook. The Bread and Salt Between Us started as a dream but slowly became a reality. Mayada worked closely with writer Jennifer Sit to create this beautiful cookbook filled with 40 mouth-watering Syrian recipes.
Each recipe is extremely special because there are short stories about why Mayada loves to create the dishes and why they are important to her. You can feel how much pride and love she puts into each and every step of the cooking process. The Bread and Salt Between Us was named as one of the Fall 2018 top picks by Food and Wine Magazine!
With the Holiday Season fast approaching, CGNY encourages you to gather around the table and celebrate the simple things in life. Invite your friends and family over and prepare a delicious Syrian meal for everyone- we’re offering COMPLIMENTARY, SIGNED COPIES of The Bread and Salt Between Us to customers spending $300. or more, plus a 20% Discount on your order of Cynthia Gale New York, Art Inspired Jewelry!! (*Note- Grateful Dead Jewelry items not included in this offer.)