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Unity yields Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians meet for venerate

Eight religious leaders produced their flocks together for eight days in one area. 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 told with a soft smile. Today we all do something very brave.

Certainly this parish was unlike any she, the leader of an Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, was used to addressing. As well as the usual meagre dress and kippah worn in her synagogue, there were some meets worn around cervixes. Others sat in the conventional pitch-black garb of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their practices to gather at the back of the room. Many were wearing no religion garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for exactly eight epoches, a music academy in the lowest valley of Jerusalem is turning into a communal house of prayer, appointed Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their flocks to worship together in one area. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropoli.

The project, the members of the Jerusalem season of culture, was launched by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah almost a year ago. They reached out to six other religion 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 practises, but too 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 together with Palestinians, this is a big gamble and a great step. But this is not a political projection; we wanted parties are derived from the right and from the left and been demonstrated that faith is beyond dogma. Here, we are reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.

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

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

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight rulers had converged formerly a week to discuss how the project could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to practise praying together. For most, this was a completely new know-how. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has use a different figure in the programme to prevent a backlash against their own families, who are initially from Lebanon, admitted 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 coalescing prayers and traditions, each night the prayer residence was hosted by a different religion digit, 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 happening, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight periods. You realised abruptly we were all speaking the same usage, she alleged. It cant only has become a storage, this has to be the vigour for the next step. We will use this as the seed to improve Jerusalem a permanent home where all faiths can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly substantial was the cooperation of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important area for Muslims in Jerusalem and the other Palestinian imam who passed from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the prayer evenings.

In a climate where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith unity can be dangerous. The imams expected not to be identified on the programme.

Ihab Balh has recognised that improving development projects had been a challenging step, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to create them into Amen and cleared it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it indicates other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in programmes like this, he articulated. Of track, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and people pushing, but its important at the same time to bush the seeds of people coming together and seeing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

The eight religious leaders, alongside musicians, sit before the congregation. Picture: Michal Fattal

Location, spot, location

In a city where geography is politics, the place of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem consented Amen. Elad-Abblebaum acknowledged it had been a formidable duty, having been refused time and time again by places available in both the east and the west of the city and on Mount Zion itself for suspicion the project would spur anger.

The leaders eventually settled on the smaller music institution, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits contiguous to Mount Zion, a pious website for all three religions. The house, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian locality of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip wire once are in place to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green path from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the devotion house. Thin airstrips of grey muslin hung from the ceiling, each accepting a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their attend musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik acknowledged he had is immensely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the prayer house and had satisfied some fight in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt actually convinced at the start, he responded. The theory was very nice but I did not see how it could happen. But when we started meet up, I was stunned at how real rapports developed between us all and I discovered there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I contemplate, is the humble embarking we need to change publics hearts and from there, their minds.

In an increasingly tense and sporadically violent political climate, Amen has not been an easy-going 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 participation 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 articulated, and her eyes fitted with snaps as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes people, when they receive the lane Im garmented in wall street they fear me because they be considered that every Muslim has a knife to jab a Jew. It is important to emphasise there is a difference between what I speak in the Quran and how people are active in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I find a lot of wounded 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 textbooks but in the end we are all contacting for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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