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Unity makes Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians connect for hero-worship

Eight religious leaders wreaked their parishes together for eight eras 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 audience 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 intersections worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black cape of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their wonts gathered together at the back of the chamber. Numerous were wearing no religion clothe at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for simply eight daylights, 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 flocks to worship together in one chamber. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated city.

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

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never belief something like this is feasible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big peril and a huge step. But this is not a political assignment; we wanted parties to come from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, we are reshaping world and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen is not simply 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 deprives of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an evening of devotion and song. Image: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight captains had matched formerly a few weeks to discuss how the project could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to practise praying together. For most, this was a entirely new know. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has used a different mention in the programme to prevent a backlash against his family, who are initially from Lebanon, admitted 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 melting devotions and traditions, each night the prayer mansion was hosted by a different religious chassis, and most of the devotion done through music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Speaking after the first nights episode, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight days. You realised unexpectedly “weve all” speaking the same language, she said. It cant precisely has become a storage, this has to be the vitality for the next step. We will use this as the seed to build Jerusalem a permanent place where all faiths can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly significant 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 hurtled 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 solidarity can be hazardous. The imams expected not to be appointed on the programme.

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

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

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

Location, place, location

In a city where geography is politics, the locating of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem admitted Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared it had been a formidable duty, 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 suspicion development projects would incite anger.

The commanders eventually settled on the smaller music school, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits neighboring to Mount Zion, a sacred site for all three religions. The build, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian region of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip wire once are applied to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the light-green row from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the devotion residence. Thin rows 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 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 congregated some fight in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt actually convinced at the beginning, he said. The idea was very nice but I did not see how it is unable to happen. But when we started rally up, I was stunned at how real rapports developed between us all and I detected there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I recall, is the humble beginning 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 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 attentions filled with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes parties, when they hear the lane Im dressed in wall street they fear 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 speak in the Quran and how they were are active in the names of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I seem a lot of damage and sorrow because of whats going on between Both 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 “were all” achieve for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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