Eight religious leaders introduced their congregations together for eight daylights in one chamber. It was a dangerous move
In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum gazed 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 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 tattered in her synagogue, there were some traverses worn around necks. Others sat in the traditional black garb of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their dress gathered together at the back of the area. Many were wearing no religion garb at all. But they were all there to pray.
Last week, and for simply eight days, a music institution 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 gatherings 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 nearly a year ago. They contacted out to six other religion representations 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 rules, but too open to discussions with other faiths.
Elad-Abblebaum said: I never believed something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big peril and a huge step. But this is not a political project; we wanted beings to come 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 closer Israels discordant religions, but also men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.
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