Temple Aliyah


Shaping Interfaith Relations

Posted on January 1, 2018

I am honored to be asked to be a founding board member of the Interfaith Solidarity Network. My work will help to shape interfaith relations in the San Fernando Valley. As we work towards unity and understanding between faith groups, our goal is to have each other’s backs.  When a Jew is affected by hate speech and actions, then Christians and Muslims need to stand up and say that it is wrong.  We see that happening more and more, and our prayer is to make this defense of each other standard practice.  At a recent solidarity march organized by the people who are now inviting me to participate as a board member, I began the march with the blowing of the shofar, rode a truck with a sound system singing unity songs and opened the ending ceremony by singing the National Anthem with a young Muslim girl at the Islamic center of Reseda.  This was truly an inspiring march and I want to thank all of the Temple Aliyah members who came out to support it.

This month, on January 19th, the Interfaith Solidarity Network will be involved with our Voices of Unity service, inspired by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The evening, which started as a “Gospel Shabbat,” has evolved in to a worship service that asks people of all religions to join us. The past three years, our Afro Jewish Alliance partners, Pastors Najuma Smith-Pollard and Michael J. Fisher have been our inspiring key-note speakers and will joion us again. This year we have asked Shaykh Suhail Mulla who is the resident scholar at the Islamic Society of the West Valley Mosque to be our speaker.  He is Associate Director & Director of Mental Health of Access California Services (accesscal.org) – the largest social service agency in California serving Muslims. Also featured that evening are the following:  Father Michael Evans (St. Bernardine); Masjid Center (Woodland Hills); Islamic Society of the West Valley; Actor and Muslim chanter Ben Yosef; The Life Choir (directed by HB Barnum); Deborah-Sharpe Taylor; Kenny Ford (keyboards); San Fernando Youth Valley Chorus (directed by Sean Carney); St Bernardine Youth Choir; Temple Aliyah Youth and Adult choirs; Our Space Kolot Tikvah Choir (Hazzan Stein, director); the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Solidarity Network (Saraya Deen/Marsha Novak) and others.

Black, White, Latino, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish, we all stand for the same values.  We pray for peace together.

We have been doing this for 20 years, and each year people leave feeling a wellspring of hope that no one will be treated differently because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual preference.  We are created בצלם אלוהים, b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.  This event started and continues to be inspired by the words of Dr Martin Luther King’s dream that people will not be judged by the color of their skin, only by the content of their character and of their souls.

The music is a fantastic part of this evening, punctuated by a piece that includes a Gospel choir, Hebrew chanting and a Muslim chanter singing the Ibrahamic prayer with oud and percussion.

Now more than ever is the time to stand together. Don’t miss January 19th at 7:45 pm!!

-Hazzan Mike Stein

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