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

Eight religious leaders raised their flocks together for eight daylights in one room. It was a dangerous move

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

Certainly this gathering 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 tattered in her synagogue, there were some bridges worn around necks. Others sat in the traditional black gown of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their attires gathered together at the back of the area. Many were wearing no religion garb at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for just eight daytimes, a music academy in the lowest valley of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, reputation 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 metropolitan.

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 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 rehearsals, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum enunciated: 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 jeopardy 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 ideology. Here, we are reshaping world and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen is not simply brought closer Israels discordant religions, but too 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 rulers had fulfilled formerly a few weeks 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. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has use a different reputation in the programme to prevent a reaction against their own families, who are originally from Lebanon, admitted 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 merging prayers and institutions, each night the devotion room was hosted by a different religion figure, and most of the devotion done using music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Speaking after the first nights event, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight epoches. You realised suddenly we were all speaking the same speech, she read. It cant precisely be a recall, this has to be the energy for the next step. We will use this as the seed to erect Jerusalem a permanent residence where all faiths can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly significant was the collaboration of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important place for Muslims in Jerusalem and another Palestinian imam who walked 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 dangerous. The imams questioned not to be referred on the programme.

Ihab Balh admitted that building development projects had been a challenging gradation, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to return them into Amen and reached 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 jobs like this, he enunciated. Of route, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties pushing, but its important at the same is necessary to flora the seeds of people coming together and to be together. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, locating, location

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

The commanders eventually settled on the small music school, which schools both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a pious locate for all three religions. The construct, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian community of Silwan, is also immediately below the secret zip wire formerly used to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the green path from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the prayer room. Thin airstrips of white-hot muslin hung from the ceiling, each birthing a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their attend musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik acknowledged he had been extremely sceptical when first approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the prayer house and had assembled some fight in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt really convinced at the start, he enunciated. The hypothesi was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it was able to happen. But when we started satisfy up, I was surprised at how real ties-in developed between us all and I discovered there was something fascinating there. And that friendship between us, I speculate, 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 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 alleged, and her gazes filled with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes people, when they watch the path Im garmented in the street they fear me because they think that every Muslim has a knife to stab a Jew. It is important to emphasise “theres 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 feel a lot of hurt 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” reaching for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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