My husband received this letter today:
I studied Arabic and Near Eastern Studies with your father in 197x, and I remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting with our small class in his home at the school. As class began, he insisted we have tastes of exotic delicacies he offered us on a tray. When we protested we were not hungry (this was an evening class, after dinner) he rejoined, in his musical singsong voice with a twinkle in his eye, "One does not eat because one is hungry, one eats because food is offered." We dutifully partook of a morsel or two before delving into the dramatic history of this distant part of the world none of us had ever seen.
Thanks to your father, the Middle East began that year to open up in color and joy. Ever since it has seemed to me both human and accessible, even as the world news would have us believe it different and dangerous. I have never forgotten the warm way it was introduced to me.
My deepest sympathies and gratitude to all your family."
(New readers who aren't familiar with the stories of my father-in-law posted here over the past few years will find them collected, in reverse chronological order, under the title "The Fig and the Orchid.")