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Unity contributes Jerusalem a devotion: Jews, Muslims and Christians meet for venerate

Eight religious leaders brought their congregations together for eight dates in one room. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum appeared upon a gathering sitting attentively before her. We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening, she articulated 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 worn in her synagogue, there were some spans worn around necks. Others sat in the traditional black costume of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their practices gathered together at the back of the room. Many were wearing no religious clothe at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for just eight epoches, a music institution in the lowest depression of Jerusalem is turning into a communal house of prayer, called Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their parishes 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 people 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 rehearsals, but likewise open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum responded: I never believed something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big probability 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 ideology. Here, “were about” reshaping actuality and we are doing it through prayer.

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

Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the pieces 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 governors had congregated 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 experience. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has expended a different reputation in the programme to prevent a reaction against his family, who are originally from Lebanon, admitted 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 mixing devotions and institutions, each night the devotion home 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 episode, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight eras. You realised abruptly we were all speaking the same language, she told. It cant just has become a reminiscence, this has to be the vigour for the next step. We will use this as the seed to build Jerusalem a permanent target where all religions can come and pray alongside one another.

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

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

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

Ihab Balh admitted that constructing development projects had been a challenging pace, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to produce them into Amen and saw 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 jobs like this, he responded. Of route, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings pushing, but its important at the same is necessary to weed the seeds of parties coming together and realizing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, place, location

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

The governors eventually settled on the smaller music institution, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits contiguous to Mount Zion, a pious place for all three beliefs. The construct, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, is also immediately below the secret zip cable once allows one to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green text from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the prayer mansion. Thin deprives of grey muslin hung from the ceiling, each bearing a quote from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their associated musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik admitted he had been extremely sceptical when firstly approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had fulfilled some defiance in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt truly persuasion at the start, he enunciated. The intuition was very nice but I did not see how it is able to happen. But when we started convene up, I was stunned at how real affairs developed between us all and I discovered there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I belief, is the humble beginning we need to change publics 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 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 ardent Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her community for a few weeks to is everything, let alone this, Mahmeed announced, and her eyes filled with tears as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes people, when they find the practice Im dressed in the street they fear me because they think that every Muslim has a knife to stab a Jew. It is important to emphasise there is a difference between what I read in the Quran and how people act in the name 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 added: For me Islam, Christianity, Judaism, it is all interconnected. We may pray in different ways with various texts but in the end we are all reaching for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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