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On one of our unseasonably warm December evenings, I had dinner with friends in their starlit back yard. Around the table, lit with flickering candles and filled with champagne and wine glasses, sat guests from India, Germany, Poland, Austria, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. They included Jews, Arabs and Christians. The conversation—in a jumble of accents—rambled from cuisine to war to romance, and we laughed so often I imagined the neighbors were green with envy that they hadn't been invited. It was an unforgettable evening, enriched by the variety of people who were able to sit down together.

It's this spirit of unity—sharing the ideas and experiences of a diverse group of people—that we are celebrating in this issue.

Our 2014 Unity Award winners understand that including different racial and ethnic groups, the LGBT community and people with varying mental and physical abilities in our workplaces, our schools, our theaters and the American family strengthens our community and leads to greater innovation. You can also meet our winners in person at our fourth annual Unity luncheon, Thursday, Jan. 30, 11:30 a.m. at Michael's On East. To reserve, visit unityawards2014.eventbrite.com.

-By Susan Burns

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