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Unity throws Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians assemble for worship

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

In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum ogled upon a gathering 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 tattered in her synagogue, there were some traverses worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black garb of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their wonts gathered together at the back of the room. Numerous were wearing no religion outfit at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for only eight daytimes, a music school 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 flocks 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 contacted out to six other religious fleshes 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 also 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 probability and a great step. But this is not a political assignment; we wanted people are derived from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, we are reshaping world and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen not only brought together Israels discordant beliefs, but likewise men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.

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

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight captains had convened formerly a few weeks to discuss how the project could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to rehearse praying together. For most, this was a entirely new ordeal. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has utilized a different epithet in the programme to prevent a reaction against their own families, who are initially from Lebanon, acknowledged 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 consolidating devotions and traditions, each night the devotion live was hosted by a different religious anatomy, 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 incident, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight periods. You realised unexpectedly we were all speaking the same communication, she said. It cant merely be a recognition, this has to be the vigor for the next step. We will use this as the seed to build Jerusalem a permanent neighbourhood 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 ritual to label International Peace Day.

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

In a climate where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith unity can be hazardous. The imams expected not to be identified on the programme.

Ihab Balh admitted that improving development projects had been a challenging gradation, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to return them into Amen and induced it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it demonstrates other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in projects like this, he said. Of course, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and people pushing, but its important at the same time to flora the seeds of beings coming together and to be together. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, location, location

In a city where geography is politics, the site of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem admitted Amen. Elad-Abblebaum admitted 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 dread the project would inflame anger.

The leads eventually settled on the smaller music school, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a pious website for all three religions. The construct, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian vicinity of Silwan, is also immediately below the secret zip wire once used to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the light-green text from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty governed the interior design of the devotion live. Thin rows of lily-white muslin hung from the ceiling, each bringing a quote from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their associate musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik declared he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had met some fight in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt truly convinced at the beginning, he said. The feeling 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 astonished at how real affairs developed between us all and I discovered there was something fascinating there. And that friendship between us, I thoughts, is the humble inaugurating we need to change families 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 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 participation being view 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 attentions filled with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes parties, when they look the path Im garmented in wall street they fear me because they is considered that every Muslim has a knife to jab a Jew. It was important to stress there is a difference between what I read in the Quran and how they were are active in the names of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I seem a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between Both israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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