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Unity gives Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians meet for worship

Eight religious leaders delivered their congregations together for eight eras in one area. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum examined upon a gang sitting attentively before her. We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening, she read with a soft smile. Today we all do something very brave.

Certainly this congregation was unlike any she, the leader of an Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, was used to addressing. As well as the usual modest dress and kippah wear in her synagogue, there were some intersects worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black robe of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their dress gathered together at the back of the room. Many were wearing no religious garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for just eight epoches, a music institution in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, mentioned Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their parishes to worship together in one chamber. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated city.

The project, part of the Jerusalem season of culture, was initiated by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah almost a year ago. They contacted out to six other religious anatomies two rabbis, a Franciscan monk, a Catholic priest, a Coptic deaconess and a female Muslim community leader who were very conventional in their beliefs and patterns, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum answered: I never speculated something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big threat and a great step. But this is not a political projection; we wanted people to come from the right and from the left and been demonstrated that faith is beyond dogma. Here, “were about” reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen not only brought closer Israels discordant beliefs, but likewise men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.

Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the deprives of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an night of devotion and song. Image: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight presidents had convened formerly a week to discuss how development projects could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to rehearse praying together. For most, this was a entirely new experience. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has expended a different figure in the programme to prevent a backlash against his family, who are initially from Lebanon, admitted he had not met anyone from the Coptic church before. Fr Alberto Fer, the Franciscan monk, had never spoken with a female rabbi.

Instead of mixing prayers and institutions, each night the prayer live was hosted by a different religion chassis, and most of the devotion done through music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Speaking after the first nights occurrence, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight daylights. You realised unexpectedly “weve all” speaking the same usage, she told. It cant exactly has become a recall, this has to be the energy for the next step. We will use this as the seed to erect Jerusalem a permanent neighbourhood where all religions can come and pray alongside one another.

In a first step towards dedicating Amen longevity, the eight religious leaders all met again on Wednesday for a special rite to differentiate International Peace Day.

Particularly substantial was the collaboration of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important locate for Muslims in Jerusalem and another Palestinian imam who travelled from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the prayer nights.

In an atmosphere where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith harmony can be dangerous. The imams asked not to be called on the programme.

Ihab Balh admitted that constructing development projects had been a challenging pace, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to accompany them into Amen and represented it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it demonstrates other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in projects like this, he remarked. Of track, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties opposing, but its important at the same is necessary to bush the seeds of beings coming together and discovering each other. Thats what I am doing here.

The eight religious leaders, alongside musicians, sit before the flock. Photograph: Michal Fattal

Location, locating, location

In a city where geography is politics, the location of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem consented Amen. Elad-Abblebaum admitted it had been a formidable enterprise, having been refused time and time again by places in both the east and the west of the city and on Mount Zion itself for anxiety development projects would foment anger.

The leads eventually settled on the smaller music institution, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a holy site for all three beliefs. The build, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, is also immediately below the secret zip wire formerly used to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the dark-green string from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the devotion home. Thin strips of grey muslin hung from the ceiling, each assuming a quote from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their associate musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik declared he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had congregated some resistance in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt certainly persuasion at the beginning, he enunciated. The intuition was very nice but I did not see how it could happen. But when we started gather up, I was astounded at how real ties-in developed between us all and I discovered there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I conclude, is the humble embarking we need to change people hearts and from there, their minds.

In an increasingly tense and sporadically violent political climate, Amen has not been an easy project to be publicly attributed to.

But Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed, one of the eight organisers and a respected Muslim community leader in the Israeli Arab town of Fureidis, said she was unafraid of her participate being view as political.

It shouldnt be taken for granted that a devout Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her community for a week to is everything, let alone this, Mahmeed replied, and her sees fitted with tears as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes parties, when they witness the road Im dressed in wall street they fear me because they think that every Muslim has a knife to jab a Jew. It was important to stress there is a difference between what I read in the Quran and how people act in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I find a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between Both israelis and Palestinians.

She lent: For me Islam, Christianity, Judaism, it is all interconnected. We may pray in different ways with various verses but in the end “were all” reaching for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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