It is impossible to write this month’s blog without reflecting on events in Israel and Palestine. I so wish I possessed a magic wand.

What to say, though? There is too much horrific news to process and too little hope to break it down.

The present trajectory is terrifying. More slaughter of innocents with protagonists in all camps seemingly impervious to entreaties for mercy.

On the BBC’s Broadcasting House this morning, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell captured a widespread belief, that what Hamas did on 7th October and what Israel is now doing in Gaza are both “unconscionable”. His sympathy lay equally with “people on both sides of the conflict”, his anger aimed towards an international failure, at the very least, to pause the carnage.

What is certain is that until the opposing leaders start talking, there will be no progress. Conversations, however fraught at outset, are always the stepping stones to a positive outcome.

And where better to evidence this, and to find some light in the darkness, than in two stories from the realms of mental and physical nourishment, music and food.

In 1999 Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward W. Said. Featuring equal numbers of Israeli and Arab musicians, the ensemble and accompanying Academy sprang from a dialogue (including heated arguments) convincing two men that there was no military solution to the Arab-Israeli discord.

Clearly there wasn’t a musical one either but for over 20 years the orchestra has demonstrated that bridges can be built that encourage us to listen to each other’s narrative.

In a recent article, recognising the complexity of a dispute “between two peoples who have known suffering and persecution”, maestro Barenboim reiterated the importance of coming together, of sharing a podium. “We start and end all discussions, no matter how controversial, with the fundamental understanding that we are all equal human beings who deserve peace, freedom and happiness”.

And now to Nottingham. In 2016, during a meeting to discuss Jewish and Muslim community relations an idea was conceived to showcase both faiths’ values of compassion, dignity, and service to others. The Salaam Shalom Kitchen (SaSh for short) was born and now serves 150 hot meals and grocery bags every Wednesday in the Hyson Green area of the city.

Again, good stuff can happen when we open ourselves to dialogue. It’s a powerful discipline of collective inquiry and learning; it doesn’t require agreement and yet can lead to aligned action; it can unleash high energy and high intelligence.

Salaam, Shalom. Or Shalom, Salaam. It works both ways. It’s a beginning.