A group of musicians in Illinois is using its talents to bring different communities together.
The Salaam-Shalom Music Project brings together artists of Muslim, Jewish and Christian backgrounds to play music from one another’s culture and history. Songs are played in the original languages, which include Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, Urdu and French. By playing these types of songs, artists can connect with the emotions and history behind songs of different religions.
“When you learn music, you actually deepen your own feelings and you begin to understand things that may have just seemed foreign or different before,” Lori Lippitz, the project founder, told Newsy.
Jews and Muslims have had over 70 years of division in the Middle East, but Lippitz says there aren’t that many differences between the two groups. And Yasmin Ali, a Muslim vocalist with the group, thinks similarly.
“Divisions are everywhere,” Ali said. “I hope that by seeing people collaborating on stage and finding commonality in a very beautiful and harmonious way, they can just take something from that and apply it in their own lives. “
Multiple religious groups have banded together in the face of an increase in discrimination and hate crimes following the 2016 election. Instead of acting helpless in the face of world issues, these artists are using their outlets to promote the message of “Salaam” and “Shalom,” which both mean peace.
“It’s not enough to see the news and feel sorry about it and turn the TV off,” said Amro Hosny Helmy, vocalist and oud player. “We need to say something; We need to do something. I do what I know: I play music.”
With the support of the Klezmer Music Foundation, the group performs concerts and private events in the Chicago area. The Saalam-Shalom Music Project has performed at universities as well.
“Giving our students the opportunity to witness such a culturally diverse group of artists is a priceless experience,” Matthew Charnay, DePaul’s Jewish student services coordinator, told the website.
Welcome to Battleground, where art and activism meet.