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

Eight religious leaders drew their parishes together for eight daylights in one chamber. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding shadow 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 gathering 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 junctions worn around cervixes. Others sat in the conventional pitch-black dres of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their garbs gathered together 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 precisely eight days, a music school in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, appointed Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their gatherings to worship together in one room. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropolitan.

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 religious illustrations 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 rehearsals, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never guessed something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big jeopardy and a huge step. But this is not a political programme; we wanted parties are derived from the right and from the left and to demonstrate that faith is beyond ideology. Here, we are reshaping world and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen is not simply brought together Israels discordant religions, 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 evening of prayer and song. Image: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight chairmen 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 entirely new know-how. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has expended a different figure in the programme to prevent a reaction against their own families, who are originally from Lebanon, acknowledged 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 devotions and habits, each night the prayer house was hosted by a different religious 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 occurrence, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight epoches. You realised suddenly we were all speaking the same expression, she said. It cant simply be a remember, this has to be the energy for the next step. We will use this as the seed to build Jerusalem a permanent place where all religions can come and pray alongside one another.

In a first step towards dedicating Amen longevity, the eight religious leaders all met again on Wednesday for a special formality to mark 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 the other Palestinian imam who hurtled from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the devotion nights.

In an atmosphere 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 mentioned on the programme.

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

This project is a milestone because it pictures other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in activities like this, he said. Of route, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties contending, but its important at the same time to flower 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 gathering. Photograph: Michal Fattal

Location, site, location

In a town where geography is politics, the orientation of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem accepted Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared it had been a formidable exercise, 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 dread the project would spur anger.

The chairmen eventually settled on the small music academy, which learns both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a holy website for all three religions. The building, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian community of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip wire once are applied to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green course from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty governed the interior design of the prayer home. Thin strips of white muslin hung from the ceiling, each digesting a quote from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompany musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik admitted he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had congregated some fighting in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt truly convinced at the beginning, he said. The theme was very nice but I did not see how it could happen. But when we started satisfy up, I was amazed at how real ties-in developed between us all and I detected there was something fascinating there. And that friendship between us, I recollect, is the humble inaugurating we need to change folks hearts and from there, their minds.

In an increasingly tense and sporadically violent 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 devout Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her community for a week to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her seeings fitted with tears as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they meet the space Im dressed in wall street they are afraid of me because they think that every Muslim has a knife to jab a Jew. It was important to stress there is a difference between what I speak in the Quran and how they were act in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I find a lot of suffer 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 different texts but in the end we are all contact for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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