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Unity imparts Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians assemble for adore

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

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum seemed upon a crowd 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 parish 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 worn in her synagogue, there were some sweeps worn around necks. Others sat in the conventional pitch-black gown of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their habits be gathered at the back of the chamber. Many were wearing no religion outfit at all. But they were all there to pray.

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

The project, part of the Jerusalem season of culture, was launched by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah almost a year ago. They contacted out to six other religion fleshes 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 patterns, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never believed something like this is feasible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big jeopardy and a great 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 not only 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 pieces of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an night of devotion and song. Photograph: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight captains had satisfied formerly a few weeks to discuss how the project could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to rehearse praying together. For most, this was a entirely new suffer. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has exploited a different appoint in the programme to prevent a reaction against his family, who are originally 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 mixing devotions and traditions, each night the prayer residence was hosted by a different religious digit, and most of the prayer done using music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Speaking after the first nights happen, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight daytimes. You realised abruptly “weve all” speaking the same speech, she said. It cant merely has become a retention, this has to be the vitality for the next step. We will use this as the seed to improve Jerusalem a permanent residence where all religions can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly significant was the cooperation of three imams, including information from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point website for Muslims in Jerusalem and the other Palestinian imam who toured from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the prayer nights.

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

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

This project is a milestone because it depicts other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in projections like this, he said. Of route, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties engaging, but its important at the same time to bush the seeds of beings coming together and seeing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, site, location

In a town where geography is politics, the spot of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem accepted Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared it had been a formidable duty, having been refused time and again by places in both the east and the west of the city and on Mount Zion itself for suspicion development projects would inspire anger.

The presidents eventually settled on the smaller music academy, which schools both Jews and Arabs and sits contiguous to Mount Zion, a holy site for all three religions. The structure, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian vicinity of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip wire once used to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green route from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the prayer residence. Thin deprives of white-hot muslin hung from the ceiling, each bearing 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 acknowledged he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the prayer house and had met some defiance in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt truly convinced at the start, he said. The theory was very nice but I did not see how it could happen. But when we started convene up, I was stunned at how real relations developed between us all and I discovered there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I remember, is the humble embarking we need to change families 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 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 participation being perceived as political.

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

Sometimes parties, when they picture the lane Im dressed in the street they are afraid of me because they think that every Muslim has a knife to stab a Jew. It was important to stress 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 seem a lot of pain and sorrow because of whats going on between Israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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