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Unity renders Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for worship

Eight religious leaders fetched their parishes together for eight daylights in one area. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum searched upon a audience sitting attentively before her. We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening, she did 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 modest dress and kippah worn in her synagogue, there were some intersections worn around necks. Others sat in the conventional pitch-black garb of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their habits be gathered at the back of the area. Many 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 flocks to worship together in one chamber. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated city.

The project, the members 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 religious people 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 likewise open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum pronounced: I never accepted something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big threat and a huge step. But this is not a political projection; we wanted beings to come from the right and from the left and been demonstrated that faith is beyond ideology. 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 too men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.

Waida
Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the rows of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an evening of devotion and song. Photo: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight leaders had fulfilled once 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 event. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has use a different reputation in the programme to prevent a backlash against their own families, who are originally from Lebanon, declared 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 coalescing prayers and habits, each night the prayer home was hosted by a different religious chassis, and most of the devotion done through music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Speaking after the first nights happen, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight dates. You realised abruptly “weve all” speaking the same usage, she suggested. It cant exactly has become a retention, this has to be the vitality for the next step. We will use this as the seed to improve Jerusalem a permanent place where all faiths can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly substantial was the collaboration of three imams, including information from al-Aqsa mosque the most important place for Muslims in Jerusalem and the other Palestinian imam who jaunted from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the devotion evenings.

In a climate 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 mentioned on the programme.

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

This project is a milestone because it evidences other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in assignments like this, he enunciated. Of track, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and people contending, but its important at the same time to flower the seeds of parties coming together and recognizing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

The
The eight religious leaders, alongside musicians, sit before the parish. Photo: Michal Fattal

Location, point, location

In a city where geography is politics, the spot of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem accepted Amen. Elad-Abblebaum acknowledged it had been a formidable duty, having been refused again and again by places in both the east and the west of the city and on Mount Zion itself for anxiety development projects would inflame anger.

The leads eventually settled on the smaller music school, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits contiguous to Mount Zion, a sacred website for all three beliefs. The building, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian community of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip wire formerly allows one to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green course from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the devotion mansion. Thin airstrips of white-hot muslin hung from the ceiling, each making a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their attend 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 fighting in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt genuinely persuaded at the start, he enunciated. The intuition was very nice but I did not see how it could happen. But when we started find up, I was astounded at how real relationships developed between us all and I discovered there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I think, is the humble beginning we need to change folks hearts and from there, their minds.

In an increasingly tense and sporadically murderous political climate, Amen has not been an easy-going project to be publicly attached 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 view 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 is everything, let alone this, Mahmeed supposed, and her gazes filled with snaps as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes people, when they receive the direction Im dressed in the street they fear me because they were of the view 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 name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I appear a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between Israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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