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Muslim/Jewish musical event on Inauguration weekend

A unique combination of community faith groups and educational institutions has come together to present an inspirational musical event that has been called “a once in a lifetime experience sure to inspire and not soon forgotten,” on Saturday, January 21 at the Mudd Theater at the Claremont School of Theology.

The evening will feature “The Pursuit of Harmony,” a collaboration between Michael Hunter Ochs, an award-winning Jewish American singer/songwriter from Nashville and Alaa Alshaham, a highly successful Palestinian Muslim songwriter and peace activist and resident of the West Bank.

Mr. Ochs and Mr. Alshaham began their collaboration in 2009, during Ochs first visit to the Middle East.

Although the two found harmony in their music and an increasing openness in their dialogue, they quickly realized that their historically divided people don’t know each other at all. They’ve been dedicated to changing this status quo ever since.

In a world resonating with discord and distrust, “The Pursuit of Harmony” is dedicated to developing not only meaningful contact between Jewish Americans and Palestinian Muslims, it’s increasingly focus on bringing together diverse groups no matter what divides them.

“What began with a shared love of music,” Mr. Ochs says, “has moved to engage a growing circle in dialogue, workshops and people-to-people projects. Our mission is to continue to expand this circle.”

Cantor Paul Buch of Temple Beth Israel believes the community needs this now more than ever before.

“This program is exactly what is needed in our community at this sensitive time,” Mr. Buch said. “When we welcomed Michael and Alaa to TBI a couple of years ago, we were focused on Muslim/Jewish understanding. But now, the issues that are of concern in our community are much broader. We hope that Michael and Alaa can inspire us through their example, and show us that we can build a more united and respectful relationship with each other no matter what our religious or cultural differences are.”

Sponsors include the Inland Valley Interfaith Working Group for Mideast Peace, Claremont School of Theology, Bayan Claremont, University of La Verne, Center of Lutheran Studies at CST, Claremont Interfaith Council, Upland Interfaith Council, Inland Valley Interfaith Network and Temple Beth Israel.

Tickets, which are $15 for general admission and $7.50 for students, are available online at pursuitofharmony0121.eventbrite.com or by calling (909) 542-8150. Limited tickets available at the door.

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