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Let's talk about hummus for a second.

Yes, hummus. The smooth garlicky, lemony spread and dip that's a staple of both Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine.


Mmmmmmmmm. Photo by Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images.

Whether a Sabra fan or a Tribe enthusiast or a make-your-own purist, it's hard to find someone who doesn't like the delicious creamy taste of hummus.

Hummus also has a deep cultural significance. It's been bringing people together for centuries.

A group of people sitting around a bowl of hummus is a familiar sight basically anywhere in the world. There's just something about those blended chickpeas that brings people to the table — pita bread and baby carrots in hand — ready to smile and eat.

Photo by Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images.

Kobi Tzafrir, a restaurant proprietor in Israel, knows all about the power of hummus, and he decided to put it to the ultimate test.

He's offering a 50% discount at his restaurant, the Hummus Bar, in Tel Aviv, on any meal shared between a Jew and an Arab. Why?

Here's a bit of background:

For hundreds of years, Arab Muslims and Israeli Jews have been at odds in a tense political and religious conflict. It's so complex and deeply entrenched in both cultures that explaining it would probably take all week. You can actually get a master's degree in it.

The biggest thing you need to know, though, is that this conflict isn't just a quibble. It's a cultural war that has claimed thousands of lives. In fact, recent outbursts of violence are part of what sparked Kobi Tzafrir's idea.

Kobi Tzafrir at the Hummus Bar. Photo by Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images.

He thought that if he could get people together for a meal, they might realize they're not so different.

After all, pretty much everyone likes hummus.

"If you eat a good hummus, you will feel love from the person who made it," Tzafrir said in an NPR interview. "You don't want to stab him."

Can a dip solve a historic and bloody conflict? Maybe. Maybe not.

Photo by Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images.

The idea is an experiment that has, so far, granted at least 10 pairs of people a discount during the last month. It's a small start, but for Tzafrir, the important thing is demonstrating to his country and the world that things can change.

"We hear a lot of extremists on the news, on Facebook, on TV, and it seems like everything here is very bad," Tzafrir told NPR. "But I wanted to show that everything here is not so bad. Things get out of proportion."

Tzafrir has been getting praise for the idea from people as far as Japan, and he says that business is up by at least 20%.

But does "food diplomacy" even work?

Well, that depends. Have you ever sat down for a meal with someone you disagreed with? Even if you didn't come to an agreement, you probably both shut up for a second to eat, right?

Believe it or not, even that little piece of common ground can be a key factor in changing people's minds.

Photo by Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images.

In 2011, Psychology professor David Desteno wrote about the power of common ground in The Boston Globe:

"One key factor that shapes our judgment is a surprisingly simple one: how much we see the person we’re judging as similar to us. New findings are suggesting that this similarity doesn’t have to involve anything as obvious as being part of the same group or family. It can be something as subtle as wearing similar colored shirts or wristbands. In fact, in a new experiment, my colleague Piercarlo Valdesolo and I have shown that morality can be influenced even by simply tapping your hands in time with someone else’s."

We've already seen food's ability to peacefully cross cultural barriers.

When Thailand and South Korea wanted to improve their standing with other countries around the world, they started with food. Bringing their cuisine to a wider global audience helped people around the world get to know a little bit of their culture and, in turn, improved global relationships.

And remember President Obama's Beer Summit? Or the Wichita Police Department's recent BBQ with Black Lives Matter activists? Sure, these things obviously didn't solve every race problem in America, but bringing people together peacefully is a lot better than yelling, cursing, and killing.

Police Sergeant James Crowley and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. with President Obama and Vice President Biden in 2009. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The Arabs and Jews who sit together at Hummus Bar will probably experience more than just a discounted meal — and that's the point.

At that table in that restaurant ... there will be peace. And there will be hummus.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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