On a quiet California morning in May, a group of Jews and Muslims came together on a Los Angeles beach to pray.
The worshippers laid out prayer mats and the sounds of their chanting, in both Hebrew and Arabic, mingled with the crashing of the waves.
“We were just so surprised that we could do this together and it’s very similar,” said participant Maryam Saleemi. “It was kind of like an ‘Aha Moment’ that we’re praying to the same God, why aren’t we doing this all the time together?”
The day of joint prayer was part of an initiative called Two Faiths One Prayer, which guided the group of 20 Muslims and Jews to five different public spaces across the city on May 3. The group traveled together on public transportation and had plenty of opportunities to find common ground.
At Los Angeles’ City Hall, the group was joined by about 60 to 70 others for an extraordinary joint prayer session. It was followed by a dinner where Muslims recited their nighttime prayer, or Isha, and Jews recited liturgical poetry, called Piyyutim.
The event was organized by fellows from New Ground, an interfaith organization that focuses on strengthening the bonds between Muslims and Jews.
Tuli Skaist, a New Ground Fellow, said that sharing a prayer space with his Muslim friends actually enhanced his own experience. He hopes to plan more events like this in the future.
“We really hope this is just the beginning,” Skaist told HuffPost. “And that people will do it on their own, take inspiration from this, and start praying with each other. It doesn’t only have to be within the context of an organized event.”