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Unity grants Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians connect for praise

Eight religious leaders raised their flocks together for eight daylights in one chamber. It was a dangerous move

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

Certainly this gathering 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 crosses worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black robes of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their garbs be gathered at the back of the chamber. Many were wearing no religious garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for precisely eight days, a music institution in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, reputation Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their parishes to worship together in one room. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropoli.

The project, the members of the Jerusalem season of culture, was initiated by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah nearly 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 traditional in their beliefs and practises, but too open to discussions with other faiths.

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

She emphasised how Amen is not simply brought together Israels discordant religions, but also men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.

Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the airstrips of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an evening of devotion and song. Photo: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight leads had converged formerly a few weeks to discuss how development projects could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to practise praying together. For most, this was a entirely new experience. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has utilized a different refer in the programme to prevent a backlash against his family, who are originally from Lebanon, acknowledged he had not met anyone from the Coptic church before. Fr Alberto Fer, the Franciscan monk, “ve never” spoken with a female rabbi.

Instead of consolidating devotions and habits, each night the prayer live was hosted by a different religious illustration, and most of the devotion done using 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 development projects lived on beyond its eight epoches. You realised abruptly we were all speaking the same expression, she spoke. It cant simply be a reminiscence, this has to be the energy for the next step. We will use this as the seed to body-build Jerusalem a permanent neighbourhood where all faiths can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly significant was the collaboration of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important website for Muslims in Jerusalem and another Palestinian imam who wandered 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 requested not to be referred on the programme.

Ihab Balh are recognizing that constructing the project had been a challenging gradation, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to produce them into Amen and induced it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it proves other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in jobs like this, he remarked. Of course, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings campaigning, but its important at the same is necessary to bush the seeds of people coming together and considering one another. Thats what I am doing here.

The eight religious leaders, alongside musicians, sit before the gathering. Image: Michal Fattal

Location, locating, location

In a city where geography is politics, the orientation of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem abode Amen. Elad-Abblebaum acknowledged it had been a formidable chore, 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 dread the project would instigate anger.

The governors eventually settled on the small music school, which educates both Jews and Arabs and sits neighboring to Mount Zion, a pious website for all three beliefs. The house, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian community of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip cable formerly allows one to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the light-green row from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the devotion live. Thin airstrips of white muslin hung from the ceiling, each abiding a quotation 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 firstly approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had filled some resistance in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt truly persuaded at the beginning, he did. The feeling was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it could happen. But when we started find up, I was stunned at how real ties-in developed between us all and I discovered there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I thoughts, is the humble embarking we need to change families 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 attached 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 piou Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her parish for a week to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed told, and her gazes fitted with snaps as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they attend the channel Im garmented in the street they are afraid of me because they think that every Muslim has a knife to jab a Jew. It is important to emphasise there is a difference between what I read in the Quran and how they were act in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I feel a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between 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 we are all contacting for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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