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Norman church celebrates Lebanese culture

The Lebanese festival hosted by Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Norman featured traditional songs, dances and food, and a talk by journalist Mike Boettcher.
BY SARAH LOBBAN Modified: April 30, 2013 at 9:27 pm •  Published: May 1, 2013
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/articleid/3805013/1/pictures/2040625">Photo - Claudine Rayess-Elya serves plates of traditional Lebanese food at the Lebanese Heritage Festival sponsored by Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church. PHOTO BY LYNETTE LOBBAN, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN
Claudine Rayess-Elya serves plates of traditional Lebanese food at the Lebanese Heritage Festival sponsored by Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church. PHOTO BY LYNETTE LOBBAN, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN

After the dabkeh dancing, singer Elite Khalil performed several numbers, including songs by Fayruz, a Lebanese singer of international renown.

Lebanese cuisine also was served. Along with hummus, tabbouleh and pita, festivalgoers were able to sample foods such as stuffed grape leaves; kibbeh, which is a fried food made with bulgur wheat, ground meat and onion; and kafta, made from beef seasoned with herbs and spices.

For those with a sweet tooth, church members sold homemade cakes, cookies and baklava.

La Baguette, a local restaurant, donated items for the sale.

Emmy-award winning journalist and war correspondent Mike Boettcher was keynote speaker, honoring his friend, the late Anthony Shadid.

A gifted reporter of Lebanese descent, Shadid, 43, collapsed and died of an apparent asthma attack last year while covering the war in Syria for The New York Times.

Boettcher described the two-time Pulitzer winner as a journalist who “could write poetry on deadline.”

Although the festival lasted just a day, the celebration of culture it embodies and the learning experiences it carries with it go on much longer, organizers said.

Next year the festival will return, inviting back old friends and welcoming newcomers.

“That's the Lebanese spirit,” Chaaya said. “Just enjoy the minute.”


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