This mission began with an improbable story of friendship between a Jewish American and a Muslim Palestinian. In the spring of 2009, world-renowned songwriter Michael Hunter Ochs visited the Middle East for the first time. On his first night in Ramallah he met award-winning peace activist/songwriter Alaa Alshaham. 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 situation ever since. In their words:

“Michael has been to Palestine over 20 times. This shows such courage and commitment to getting to know the other – and the people there notice.”-Alaa

“Alaa and I have led Shabbat services at congregations across the US. It is a powerful signal he is sending – a Palestinian in synagogue week after week – and it is moving people to tears…and action.” -Michael

 In a world resonating with discord and distrust, we propose The Pursuit of Harmony: dedicated to meaningful contact between Jewish Americans and Palestinian Muslims. What often begins with a shared love of music moves to engage a growing circle in dialogue, workshops and people-to-people projects. Our mission is to expand this circle.



“Through wise words and incredible music they show us the very path ahead that seems to elude politicians and diplomats these days.  They deserve a wide, global audience.” -Dr. Henrik Syse, Senior Research Fellow at Peace Research Institute Oslo, Member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee

“We can only hope that their message of hope, harmony and unity spreads like wildfire – especially to those communities who are just beginning the journey.  Thank you Michael and Alaa for one of the most inspirational, meaningful  and hopeful weekends we have experienced in quite some time.” -Shalom, Salaam, Peace Rabbi Gary Mazo, Reverend Kevin Fleming, Imam Omar Atia, Evansville One God and One Community Initiative

“It is truly an amazing display of courage and talent for Alaa and Michael to take on the world with all its challenges, and perform with such grace -sharing a much needed personal message of hope. Their music brought our community together.  We put our differences aside as we were inspired to continue to work for a day where we can be a part of a more peaceful world.”-Daoud Abudiab, Our Muslim Neighbors, President

“They are builders of hope. The hope that Jew and Muslim can live side-by-side…the hope that all of humankind will finally learn to do same.”  Read All Of Rabbi Dreskin’s Remarks -Rabbi Billy Dreskin, Woodlands Community Temple (White Plains, New York)

“The Pursuit of Harmony lives up to its name.  Michael and Alaa are excellent musicians and grace-filled human beings who bring alive the pursuit of harmony and journey toward peace in this hurting and vulnerable world.  They came to Cleveland, Ohio in the midst of our struggle for racial harmony and justice, and they filled our hearts and souls with the spirit of Shalom, Salaam and Peace.  Can’t wait for their return visit.” – The Very Rev. Tracey Lind Dean, Trinity Cathedral (Cleveland, Ohio)

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