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Unity sacrifices Jerusalem a devotion: Jews, Muslims and Christians connect for hero-worship

Eight religious leaders raised their flocks together for eight eras in one area. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum looked upon a army 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 modest dress and kippah worn in her synagogue, there were some traverses worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black dres of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their attires be gathered at the back of the area. Many were wearing no religious garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for merely eight days, a music academy in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, mentioned Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their congregations 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 launched by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah almost a year ago. They reached out to six other religious anatomies 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 rehearses, but too open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never conceived something like this is feasible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big hazard and a huge step. But this is not a political campaign; we wanted people are derived from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, we are reshaping actuality and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen is not simply brought together Israels discordant beliefs, but too 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 devotion and song. Image: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight captains had converged once 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 suffer. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has utilized a different refer 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 consolidating prayers and habits, each night the prayer room was hosted by a different religion 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 event, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight daytimes. You realised abruptly we were all speaking the same usage, she said. It cant exactly be a recall, this has to be the intensity for the next step. We will use this as the seed to construct Jerusalem a permanent residence where all faiths can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly significant was the collaboration of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important 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 devotion evenings.

In an atmosphere where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith harmony can be dangerous. The imams questioned not to be called on the programme.

Ihab Balh admitted that constructing the project had been a challenging stair, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to accompany them into Amen and became 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 said. Of route, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties campaigning, but its important at the same is high time to plant 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 congregation. Picture: Michal Fattal

Location, point, location

In a city where geography is politics, the point of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem countenanced Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared it had been a formidable exercise, 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 the project would foment anger.

The captains eventually settled on the smaller music school, which learns both Jews and Arabs and sits neighboring to Mount Zion, a pious website for all three religions. The house, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip cable formerly used to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the light-green direction from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the devotion home. Thin pieces of lily-white muslin hung from the ceiling, each enduring 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 acknowledged he had been extremely sceptical when firstly approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the prayer house and had gratified some opposition in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt certainly convinced at the beginning, he said. The opinion was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it is unable to happen. But when we started rally up, I was surprised at how real relations developed between us all and I detected there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I speculate, 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 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 perceived as political.

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

Sometimes parties, when they check the acces Im dressed in the street they are afraid of me because they is considered that every Muslim has a knife to stab a Jew. It was important to stress there is a difference between what I read in the Quran and how they were act in the names of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I detect a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between Both israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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