08/16/2010 02:01 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

30 Days Before Dawn: A Non-Muslim Celebrating Ramadan, Day 2

I love the morning. I awoke before the alarm, worried that it might not go off only to see I was 10 minutes early. Great to hear beautiful music and head down to breakfast.

My husband Martin says we eat better during Ramadan. We certainly eat with more attention and care. For this breakfast, we had fruit salad (a take-home from yesterday's Rotary Club meeting) atop cottage cheese, a lovely flat bread from my visit to the Aladin Bakery and Grocery yesterday, organic olive oil and za'atar both fair trade from Palestine -- and the usual glass of orange juice, vitamins, another full glass of water and a cup of tea.

Martin wisely went back to bed but I really do love the morning. This is my favorite time to write, to plan, to explore ideas, and to communicate with my project partners overseas. My work is about rebuilding war-torn communities and making them safe. We work with Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers to rebuild Palestinian schools, playgrounds and homes. Today's agenda:

  • Resolve logistics for my upcoming trip to Poland (I am to receive the Medal of Gratitude to be awarded by Lech Walesa on the 30th anniversary of the Polish Solidarity Movement!);
  • Place our latest wording into the draft lay-out of a brochure to give out at our tasting table at Rainbow Cooperative Grocery in San Francisco on Friday -- tomorrow! This is the first store to carry our organic olive oil, za'atar and couscous! In addition to the fair price to the growers and scholarship program for their children, we hope customers will want to buy this product to support our rebuilding work;
  • Write an email announcement with very good news regarding my colleague, Bassam Aramin, and his family. In 2008, the Rebuilding Alliance hosted a speaking tour that brought Israeli and Palestinian founders of Combatants for Peace to the U.S. to speak. Combatants for Peace are Israeli former soldiers who refuse to fight in the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinians who have served time in Israeli prison all of whom have renounced violence. They meet together in thoughtful, personally challenging encounters, then work together to bring Israel's occupation of Palestine to an end.

There's a busy day ahead too. A new volunteer starts today -- which project will be the best fit? A past intern has asked for help with his resume and a recommendation (of course!). Our team is working on a press strategy, grant proposals and writing updates about our building projects.

This afternoon, Rebuilding Alliance board member emeritus, Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, is coming to visit. An American-born rabbi, Jeremy Milgrom has lived in Israel since 1968 and has pursued a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis throughout his career. He has been involved in important initiatives in the Israeli peace camp at their critical starting moments over the last 27 years. Rabbi Milgrom has been a pioneer in interfaith partnerships with Christian and Moslem Palestinians. He cofounded and directed Clergy for Peace with Rev. Shehadeh Shehadeh and has been active in bringing volunteers to the West Bank to tutor Bedouin children of the Jahalin tribe who have been forcibly moved there from their home in the Negev. He frequently lectures at Israeli and European forums on Judaism, nonviolence and other related subjects.

And so the day begins.