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

Eight religious leaders raised their flocks together for eight daytimes in one area. 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 mentioned 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 meets worn around necks. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black garb of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their wonts be gathered 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 just eight eras, a music academy in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, named Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their gatherings to worship together in one room. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropolitan.

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 religion chassis 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 rehearsals, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum responded: 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 peril and a huge step. But this is not a political project; we wanted beings to come from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, “were both” reshaping actuality 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 Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the strips 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 commanders had converged 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 know-how. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has expended a different figure in the programme to prevent a backlash 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 melting prayers and institutions, each night the devotion mansion was hosted by a different religious person, and most of the prayer done using 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 working to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight epoches. You realised abruptly “weve all” speaking the same usage, she added. It cant only has become a remember, this has to be the power for the next step. We will use this as the seed to body-build Jerusalem a permanent neighbourhood where all sects can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly significant was the collaboration of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point locate for Muslims in Jerusalem and the other Palestinian imam who jaunted from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the prayer 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 referred 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 produce them into Amen and stimulated 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 jobs like this, he supposed. Of course, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties engaging, but its important at the same is necessary to plant the seeds of parties coming together and seeing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, location, location

In a town where geography is politics, the site of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem abode Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared 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 town and on Mount Zion itself for panic the project would instigate anger.

The leads eventually settled on the smaller music academy, which educates both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a holy website for all three beliefs. The building, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian region of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip wire formerly used to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the light-green way from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the devotion room. Thin strips of white-hot muslin hung from the ceiling, each digesting a quotation 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 firstly approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had assembled some fighting in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt really convinced at the start, he spoke. The suggestion was very nice but I did not see how it was able to happen. But when we started meeting up, I was surprised at how real ties-in developed between us all and I discovered there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I guess, is the humble beginning we need to change peoples 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 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 responded, and her gazes filled with tears as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they find the mode Im dressed in the street they fear 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 speak in the Quran and how people are active 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 contacting for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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