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Unity opens Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for adore

Eight religious leaders accompanied their flocks together for eight epoches in one area. It was a dangerous move

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

Certainly this flock 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 tattered in her synagogue, there were some traverses worn around necks. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black robe of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their practices be gathered at the back of the chamber. Many were wearing no religion garment at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for just eight daytimes, a music academy in the lowest valley of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, reputation Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their congregations to worship together in one area. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated municipality.

The project, part 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 people 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 likewise open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: 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 huge step. But this is not a political projection; we wanted parties are derived from the right and from the left and to demonstrate that faith is beyond ideology. Here, “weve been” reshaping world and we are doing it through prayer.

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

Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the strips 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 leads had assembled 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 completely new know. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has used a different name in the programme to prevent a backlash against their own families, who are initially 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 merging devotions and habits, each night the devotion house was hosted by a different religion person, 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 phenomenon, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight periods. You realised unexpectedly we were all speaking the same language, she said. It cant simply be a recall, this has to be the energy for the next step. We will use this as the seed to structure Jerusalem a permanent place where all religions can come and pray alongside each other.

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

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

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

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

This project is a milestone because it shows other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in projections like this, he said. Of trend, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings fighting, but its important at the same time to bush the seeds of beings coming together and to be together. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, site, location

In a city where geography is politics, the place of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem countenanced Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared it had been a formidable task, 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 fright development projects would inspire anger.

The rulers eventually settled on the smaller music school, which schools both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a pious place for all three beliefs. The structure, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian community of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip wire once are applied to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green row from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty governed the interior design of the prayer live. Thin pieces of lily-white muslin hung from the ceiling, each producing a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompanying musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

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

To say the truth, I wasnt actually convinced at the start, he said. The intuition was very nice but I did not see how it is unable to happen. But when we started convene up, I was astonished at how real rapports developed between us all and I detected there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I conceive, is the humble embarking we need to change publics hearts and from there, their minds.

In an increasingly tense and sporadically murderous 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 perceived as political.

It shouldnt be taken for granted that a devout Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her parish for a few weeks to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her attentions fitted with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes parties, when they assure the mode Im dressed in the street they fear me because they is considered that every Muslim has a knife to stab 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 names of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I experience a lot of suffering and sorrow because of whats going on between Both israelis and Palestinians.

She added: For me Islam, Christianity, Judaism, it is all interconnected. We may pray in different ways with different texts but in the end we are all accomplish for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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