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Unity opens Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for hero-worship

Eight religious leaders accompanied their parishes together for eight daylights in one area. 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 flock 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 traverses worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black attire of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their dress gathered together at the back of the area. Numerous were wearing no religion garment at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for merely eight eras, a music institution in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, mentioned Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their congregations to worship together in one chamber. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated municipality.

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 contacted out to six other religious figures 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 rehearses, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never speculated something like this is feasible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big gamble and a great step. But this is not a political programme; we wanted parties to come from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, “weve been” reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen not only brought together Israels discordant beliefs, but also 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 night of devotion and song. Picture: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight captains had encountered 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 completely new know. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has exploited a different mention in the programme to prevent a backlash against their own families, 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 incorporating devotions and institutions, each night the devotion residence was hosted by a different religious representation, and most of the prayer done through music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Speaking after the first nights event, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight eras. You realised suddenly “weve all” speaking the same language, she said. It cant just has become a remember, this has to be the force for the next step. We will use this as the seed to body-build Jerusalem a permanent place where all sects can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly significant was the cooperation of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point locate for Muslims in Jerusalem and another Palestinian imam who advanced from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the prayer 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 asked not to be referred on the programme.

Ihab Balh admitted that improving development projects had been a challenging pace, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to accompanied them into Amen and cleared it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it depicts other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in assignments like this, he said. Of route, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings campaigning, but its important at the same is high 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 parish. Photo: Michal Fattal

Location, site, location

In a city where geography is politics, the place of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem abode Amen. Elad-Abblebaum acknowledged it had been a formidable enterprise, 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 development projects would motivate anger.

The governors eventually settled on the small music school, which schools both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a pious site for all three beliefs. The building, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip cable once are applied to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the dark-green text from East to West Jerusalem.

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

Rafik declared he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the prayer house and had matched some opposition in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt certainly convinced at the beginning, he said. The project was very nice but I did not see how it could happen. But when we started join up, I was amazed at how real rapports developed between us all and I discovered there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I remember, is the humble beginning we need to change people 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 participate 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 week to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her gazes filled with snaps as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they appreciate the direction 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 people are active in the names of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I feel 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” reaching for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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