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Unity demonstrates Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for devotion

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

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum searched upon a gathering sitting attentively before her. We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening, she alleged 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 modest dress and kippah wear in her synagogue, there were some pass worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black robe of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their practices be gathered at the back of the room. Numerous were wearing no religious garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for precisely eight eras, a music institution in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, named Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their parishes 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 initiated by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah almost a year ago. They reached out to six other religious 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 traditions, but too open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum responded: I never guessed something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big hazard and a great step. But this is not a political campaign; we wanted people received from the right and from the left and have demonstrated that faith is beyond ideology. Here, we are reshaping world and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen is not simply brought together Israels discordant beliefs, 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 devotion and song. Image: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight managers had converged 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 completely new know-how. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has exploited a different appoint 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 mixing devotions and habits, each night the devotion mansion was hosted by a different religion flesh, 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 episode, 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 usage, she spoke. It cant simply be a remember, this has to be the force for the next step. We will use this as the seed to construct Jerusalem a permanent situate where all sects can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly substantial was the collaboration of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important website 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 evenings.

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

Ihab Balh has recognised that improving development projects had been a challenging stair, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to raise them into Amen and manufactured 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 pronounced. Of route, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and beings campaigning, but its important at the same is necessary to weed 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 parish. Image: Michal Fattal

Location, spot, location

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

The captains eventually settled on the smaller music school, which schools both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a holy locate for all three religions. The structure, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian vicinity of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip wire formerly are applied to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the dark-green position from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the devotion home. Thin rows of white-hot muslin hung from the ceiling, each making 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 admitted he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the prayer house and had congregated some resistance in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt truly convinced at the beginning, he replied. The sentiment was very nice but I did not see how it was able to happen. But when we started join up, I was astounded at how real relationships developed between us all and I detected there was something fascinating there. And that friendship between us, I envision, is the humble beginning we need to change peoples 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 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 participate being perceived as political.

It shouldnt be taken for granted that a devout Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her community for a week to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed answered, and her sees fitted with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they consider the method Im dressed in the street they are afraid of me because they be considered that every Muslim has a knife to jab 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 appear a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between Israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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