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Unity demonstrates Jerusalem a devotion: Jews, Muslims and Christians assemble for hero-worship

Eight religious leaders brought their flocks together for eight days in one chamber. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum seemed upon a gang 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 congregation 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 intersects worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black cape of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their dress 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 only eight epoches, a music institution in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, referred Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their flocks 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 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 too open to discussions with other faiths.

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

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

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight rulers had satisfied once a week to discuss how development projects could be realised and even travelled together to the desert to practise praying together. For most, this was a completely new experience. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has employed a different call in the programme to prevent a backlash against his family, 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 incorporating prayers and traditions, each night the prayer house was hosted by a different religion flesh, 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 abruptly “weve all” speaking the same conversation, she pronounced. It cant merely has become a recognition, this has to be the vigour for the next step. We will use this as the seed to develop Jerusalem a permanent lieu where all sects can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly significant was the collaboration of three imams, including information from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point area 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 nights.

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

Ihab Balh admitted that improving the project had been a challenging gradation, but that his work with these imams over the past decade had laid the groundwork to accompanied them into Amen and shaped it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it pictures other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in campaigns like this, he answered. Of direction, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties engaging, but its important at the same is necessary to flora 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 congregation. Image: Michal Fattal

Location, place, location

In a town where geography is politics, the site of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem countenanced Amen. Elad-Abblebaum declared it had been a formidable undertaking, 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 motivate anger.

The rulers eventually settled on the smaller music institution, which schools both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a pious website for all three beliefs. The construct, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip cable once are applied to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the light-green position from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the devotion residence. Thin strips of white-hot muslin hung from the ceiling, each assuming 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 prayer house and had fulfilled some fighting in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt certainly convinced at the start, he told. The plan was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it could happen. But when we started see up, I was astonished at how real affairs developed between us all and I detected there was something concerning there. And that friendship between us, I conclude, is the humble embarking we need to change families 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 participation 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 told, and her attentions fitted with snaps as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes people, when they read the way Im dressed in wall 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 they were are active in the name of the Quran. God didnt tell me to stand up and kill people. I experience a lot of hurt and sorrow because of whats going on between Israelis and Palestinians.

She added: For me Islam, Christianity, Judaism, it is all interconnected. We may pray in different ways with different textbooks but in the end we are all contacting for same thing.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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