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Unity generates Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians meet for sacred

Eight religious leaders returned their gatherings together for eight daylights in one room. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum ogled 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 wear in her synagogue, there were some intersects worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black gown of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their habits gathered together at the back of the area. Many were wearing no religion outfit at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for just eight days, a music academy in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, appointed 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 municipality.

The project, part of the Jerusalem season of culture, was launched by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah nearly a year ago. They reached 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 rehearsals, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never guessed something like this is feasible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big danger and a great step. But this is not a political job; we wanted parties to come from the right and from the left and to demonstrate that faith is beyond dogma. 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
Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the strips of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an night of prayer and song. Photograph: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight leads had encountered 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. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has exploited a different figure in the programme to prevent a reaction against their own families, who are originally from Lebanon, declared 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 merging prayers and institutions, each night the prayer house was hosted by a different religion flesh, 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 affair, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight dates. You realised suddenly we were all speaking the same language, she said. It cant precisely be 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 sects 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 distinguish International Peace Day.

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

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

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

This project is a milestone because it demonstrates other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in activities like this, he said. Of direction, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and people engaging, but its important at the same is high time to weed the seeds of parties coming together and to be together. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, location, 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 acknowledged it had been a formidable undertaking, having been refused over and over again by places in both the east and the west of the city and on Mount Zion itself for panic development projects would foment anger.

The presidents eventually settled on the small music institution, which learns both Jews and Arabs and sits contiguous to Mount Zion, a sacred site for all three beliefs. The structure, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip wire formerly are applied to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the light-green route from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the devotion house. Thin strips of grey muslin hung from the ceiling, each suffering 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 converged some defiance in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt genuinely convinced at the beginning, he said. The mind was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it could happen. But when we started satisfy up, I was surprised at how real relations developed between us all and I discovered there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I consider, is the humble embarking we need to change folks 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 view as political.

It shouldnt be taken for granted that a ardent 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 gazes filled with rips as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes parties, when they realize the behavior Im garmented in wall street they fear me because they think that every Muslim has a knife to stab a Jew. It is important to emphasise there is a difference between what I speak in the Quran and how they were are active in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I seem a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between Israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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