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Unity devotes Jerusalem a devotion: Jews, Muslims and Christians connect for adore

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

In a small building in the foreboding darknes 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 tattered in her synagogue, there were some meets worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black dres of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their habits be gathered at the back of the chamber. Numerous were wearing no religion outfit at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for only eight eras, 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 chamber. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropolitan.

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 reached out to six other religion chassis 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 rules, but likewise 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 along with Palestinians, this is a big jeopardy and a huge step. But this is not a political assignment; we wanted parties are derived from the right and from the left and to demonstrate that faith is beyond dogma. Here, we are reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.

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

Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the airstrips of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an night of devotion and song. Image: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight captains had satisfied formerly a week to discuss how development projects could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to rehearse praying together. For most, this was a completely new know. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has expended a different call in the programme to prevent a reaction against their own families, 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 mixing devotions and habits, each night the prayer room was hosted by a different religious representation, 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 happening, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight periods. You realised abruptly we were all speaking the same communication, she said. It cant only has become a recollection, this has to be the energy for the next step. We will use this as the seed to erect Jerusalem a permanent place where all sects can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly substantial was the collaboration of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important place 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 an atmosphere where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith harmony can be hazardous. The imams requested not to be appointed on the programme.

Ihab Balh admitted that building the project had been a challenging pace, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to raise them into Amen and saw it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it shows other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in campaigns like this, he said. Of course, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and people pushing, 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 congregation. Picture: Michal Fattal

Location, location, location

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

The leaders eventually settled on the small music institution, which educates both Jews and Arabs and sits contiguous to Mount Zion, a pious place for all three beliefs. The house, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian vicinity of Silwan, is also immediately below the secret zip wire once are applied to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the light-green thread from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the prayer mansion. Thin pieces of grey muslin hung from the ceiling, each bringing 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 prayer house and had satisfied some fighting in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt certainly convinced at the start, he said. The sentiment was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it could happen. But when we started find up, I was astounded at how real affairs developed between us all and I discovered there was something fascinating there. And that friendship between us, I contemplate, is the humble embarking we need to change publics 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 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 piou Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her community for a few weeks to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her sees fitted with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they receive the room Im garmented in the street they are afraid of me because they is considered 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 people act in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I seem a lot of suffering 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 textbooks but in the end “were all” make for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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