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

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

In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum searched 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 meagre dress and kippah wear in her synagogue, there were some junctions worn around necks. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black dres of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their dress be gathered at the back of the area. Many were wearing no religion clothe at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for merely eight days, a music school in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, appointed 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 municipality.

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 anatomies 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 also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never belief something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big danger and a great step. But this is not a political assignment; we wanted people to come from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond ideology. Here, we are reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen not only brought closer 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 evening of prayer and song. Picture: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight governors had matched formerly a few weeks to discuss how development projects could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to practise praying together. For most, this was a completely new knowledge. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has employed a different identify 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, had never spoken with a female rabbi.

Instead of mixing devotions and traditions, each night the prayer room was hosted by a different religion chassis, 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 contest, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight daylights. You realised suddenly “weve all” speaking the same conversation, she said. It cant only 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 situate where all religions can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly substantial was the cooperation of three imams, including information from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point website for Muslims in Jerusalem and the other Palestinian imam who wandered 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 unity can be hazardous. The imams asked not to be mentioned on the programme.

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

This project is a milestone because it depicts other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in projects like this, he said. Of track, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings contending, but its important at the same is high time to bush the seeds of beings coming together and seeing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, site, location

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

The leaders eventually settled on the smaller music institution, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits neighboring to Mount Zion, a pious locate for all three religions. The house, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian locality of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip wire once are applied to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the dark-green strand from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the prayer mansion. Thin pieces of white-hot muslin hung from the ceiling, each permitting a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompanying musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik declared he had been extremely sceptical when firstly approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the prayer house and had assembled some fight in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt actually convinced at the beginning, he said. The meaning was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it could happen. But when we started see up, I was astonished at how real relationships developed between us all and I detected there was something fascinating there. And that friendship between us, I suppose, is the humble beginning 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 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 view as political.

It shouldnt be taken for granted that a piou Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her parish for a week to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her seeings filled with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes parties, when they meet the road Im dressed in the street they are afraid of me because they is considered that every Muslim has a knife to jab a Jew. It is important to emphasise there is a difference between what I speak in the Quran and how people act in the names of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I detect a lot of injure and sorrow because of whats going on between Both israelis and Palestinians.

She contributed: For me Islam, Christianity, Judaism, it is all interconnected. We may pray in different ways with different verses but in the end “were all” contact for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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