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

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

In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum seemed upon a gathering sitting attentively before her. We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening, she told with a soft smile. Today we all do something very brave.

Certainly this flock 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 sweeps worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black robe of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their dress be gathered at the back of the area. Numerous were wearing no religious garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for exactly eight epoches, a music institution in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, named 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 metropoli.

The project, part of the Jerusalem season of culture, was launched 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 practices, but likewise open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum pronounced: I never belief something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big danger and a huge step. But this is not a political programme; we wanted parties received from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, “were both” reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen is not simply brought closer Israels discordant religions, but also 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 night of prayer and song. Photograph: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight presidents had satisfied once a week to discuss how the project could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to rehearse praying together. For most, this was a completely new knowledge. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has utilized a different identify in the programme to prevent a backlash 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, “ve never” spoken with a female rabbi.

Instead of merging prayers and traditions, each night the devotion room was hosted by a different religion illustration, 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 contest, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already implemented in order to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight days. You realised abruptly we were all speaking the same language, she alleged. It cant simply be a remembering, this has to be the force for the next step. We will use this as the seed to body-build Jerusalem a permanent situate where all sects can come and pray alongside one another.

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

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

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

Ihab Balh has recognised that constructing the project 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 constructed it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it establishes other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in programmes like this, he announced. Of trend, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings fighting, but its important at the same time to flower the seeds of parties coming together and seeing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

The
The eight religious leaders, alongside musicians, sit before the flock. Photograph: Michal Fattal

Location, point, location

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

The captains eventually settled on the small music school, which learns both Jews and Arabs and sits neighboring to Mount Zion, a sacred website for all three religions. The structure, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian community of Silwan, is also immediately below the secret zip wire formerly are applied to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the light-green boundary from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the devotion home. Thin strips of lily-white muslin hung from the ceiling, each digesting a quote from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompanying musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik admitted he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had assembled some resistance in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt truly convinced at the beginning, he suggested. The theory was very nice but I did not see how it could happen. But when we started gratify up, I was amazed at how real relations developed between us all and I discovered there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I remember, is the humble embarking we need to change families hearts and from there, their minds.

In an increasingly tense and sporadically brutal 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 piou Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her parish for a week to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed supposed, and her gazes fitted with tears as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes people, when they identify the lane Im garmented in wall street they are afraid of me because they be considered 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 are active in the names 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 different texts but in the end “were all” reaching for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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