POMONA - Christians, Jews and Muslims gathered at the Islamic Center of Claremont for the third annual Interfaith Seder Experience.

The gathering drew many participants of diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds where they could sit down "and get to know each other one on one," said Cantor Paul Buch of Temple Beth Israel in Pomona.

Having an opportunity to talk to people from different backgrounds in such a setting allows participants to learn about one another, said Buch, one of the event organizers.

When people sit down to get to know each other, they are less likely to have a negative impression of each other and misconceptions are cleared up, he said.

Cantor Paul Buch of Temple Beth Israel in Pomona welcomes people to the interfaith seder at the Islamic Center.
Cantor Paul Buch of Temple Beth Israel in Pomona welcomes people to the interfaith seder at the Islamic Center. (Frank Perez/Correspondent)

They also begin to see what they have in common.

The gathering is modeled after the traditional Jewish Passover holiday meal. Participants share stories of their search for freedom or their freedom from habits they are enslaved to, Buch said.Freedom is an important component of Passover because it commemorates the Jews' release from bondage in Egypt, as told in the Book of Exodus.

Foods, texts and other elements used by Christians, Muslims and Jews are woven into the event, Buch said.

The gathering brings people together to build relationships and bridges connecting cultures.

"We're building a quiet model that can really be successful," he said.

Relationships built over the years have already resulted in diverse groups working together on different community issues and working and traveling together to gain a better understanding of each other, Buch said.

Among those participating in the organizing of this year's gathering were students from Claremont Lincoln University and the Claremont School of Theology.

Both institutions have special programs dedicated to building understand among different faiths.