Giving Thanks in Leah's Kitchen

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A mother and son from Burma await the Thanksgiving feast Photo: Courtesy of Participant Media

Regardless of where you are from or what language you speak, food brings us all together. On November 16th, the IRC in Dallas participated in a  perfect example of this common truth.

What began as a community Thanksgiving meal 21 years ago by the late Harold and Leah Pollman is now an annual tradition affectionately referred to as “Leah’s Kitchen.”  Organized by their daughter, Cheryl Pollman, this year’s dinner focused on the Dallas refugee community. Hosted by Temple Emanu-El and in partnership with the Dallas Office of Welcoming Affairs, Break Bread Break Borders, and Participant Media, the IRC was delighted  to be a part of the evening.

Council Member Jennifer Staubach Gates welcomes guests Photo: Courtesy of Participant Media

After welcoming remarks by leaders from Temple Emanu-El, local officials, and representatives from community organizations, Participant Media showcased excerpts from Human Flow, a new film by Ai Wei Wei vividly depicting today’s refugee crisis. Guests were then invited to partake in an assortment of traditional Thanksgiving favorites, as well as home cooked Iraqi and Syrian dishes from local community members.  Smells of roasted turkey and tabbouleh mixed in the air. Pumpkin pie and baklava bumped up against each other on people’s plates.

Guests dined together at tables with people who didn’t share a common age, first language, country of origin, or even a taste in food. Recently arrived refugee families, faith leaders, educators, local officials, and community members from all over the metroplex enjoyed lively conversations while experiencing new flavors and ingredients. No one left hungry.

The IRC in Dallas gives thanks  to Temple Emanu-El and the other local organizations who provided us the opportunity to introduce refugees to traditional American Thanksgiving customs.


Scroll down to see more pictures of the evening!

Suraiya, a young Aghan refugee, proudly speaks about her artwork with guests Photo: Courtesy of Particpant Media
Guests listen to welcoming remarks by Council Member Jennifer Staubach Gates Photo: Courtesy of Participant Media
Syrian and Iraqi dishes line the table with Thanksgiving favorites Photo: Courtesy of Participant Media
Cheryl Pollman speaks on the tradition of "Leahs Kitchen" Photo: Courtesy of Participant Media