BROOKLYN — After an Indian buffet, warm chai and a vent about the difficulty of finding space for jamming sessions, 18 Jewish and Muslim musicians in Kensington opened up their instrument cases.
The musicians formed a tight circle inside Jalsa, a small local restaurant, turning it into an impromptu jamming space. Soon enough, the tabla gave beats to the saxophone and oud’s soulful melodies, while the harmonium and violin wove in their resonant chords. Other instruments joined in, creating a distinctive intercultural experience.
Kensington, a diverse neighborhood with longstanding and adjacent South Asian Muslim and Jewish communities, was home to this unique gathering at Jalsa on a cloudy December afternoon. Set against the backdrop of increasing violence in the Palestine-Israel conflict, a dispute between predominantly Muslim and Jewish communities, the lunch brought together musicians of the two faiths to discuss and create music. Community organizers aim to make this a precursor to upcoming gatherings that unite the neighborhood in 2024.