Eight religious leaders fetched their congregations together for eight daytimes 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 mob 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 wear in her synagogue, there were some crisscross worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black robes of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their garbs gathered together at the back of the room. Many were wearing no religion clothe at all. But they were all there to pray.
Last week, and for merely eight days, a music institution in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, called Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their parishes to worship together in one area. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropoli.
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 conventional in their beliefs and traditions, but too open to discussions with other faiths.
Elad-Abblebaum said: I never speculated something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big peril and a huge step. But this is not a political programme; we wanted beings to come from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, “weve been” reshaping actuality and we are doing it through prayer.
She emphasised how Amen not only brought closer Israels discordant beliefs, but too men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.
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