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Unity leaves Jerusalem a devotion: Jews, Muslims and Christians assemble for love

Eight religious leaders introduced 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 searched 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 congregation 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 intersects worn around necks. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black attire of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their habits be gathered at the back of the chamber. Many were wearing no religion garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for precisely eight dates, 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 flocks to worship together in one chamber. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated city.

The project, part of the Jerusalem season of culture, was initiated by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah almost a year ago. They contacted out to six other religion digits 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 practises, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never guessed 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 huge step. But this is not a political assignment; we wanted beings are derived from the right and from the left and to show 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 together Israels discordant religions, but likewise 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 night of prayer and song. Picture: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight commanders had convened 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 entirely new know. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has applied a different epithet in the programme to prevent a reaction against his family, who are originally from Lebanon, declared 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 institutions, each night the prayer residence was hosted by a different religious representation, 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 affair, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight periods. You realised abruptly we were all speaking the same language, she said. It cant just be a reminiscence, this has to be the force for the next step. We will use this as the seed to develop Jerusalem a permanent residence where all religions can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly significant was the collaboration of three imams, including information from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point area for Muslims in Jerusalem and another Palestinian imam who passed from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the prayer nights.

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

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

This project is a milestone because it shows other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in assignments like this, he said. Of track, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings engaging, but its important at the same time to flower 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 flock. Picture: Michal Fattal

Location, point, location

In a city where geography is politics, the location of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem abode Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared it had been a formidable project, having been refused time and time again by places in both the east and the west of the city and on Mount Zion itself for fear the project would prompt anger.

The rulers eventually settled on the smaller music academy, which schools both Jews and Arabs and sits neighboring to Mount Zion, a holy area for all three religions. The building, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian region of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip wire formerly are applied to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the green front from East to West Jerusalem.

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

Rafik acknowledged he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had encountered some opposition in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt actually convinced at the beginning, he said. The idea was very nice but I did not see how it is unable to happen. But when we started find up, I was amazed at how real relationships developed between us all and I detected there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I envisage, 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 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 perceived 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 do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her sees filled with rips as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they hear the mode Im garmented in wall street they fear me because they is considered that every Muslim has a knife to stab a Jew. It is important to emphasise there is a difference between what I speak in the Quran and how they were are active in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I experience a lot of suffering 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 texts but in the end “were all” accomplish for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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