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Unity makes Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians meet for sacred

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

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum searched upon a gang sitting attentively before her. We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening, she said 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 wear in her synagogue, there were some junctions worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black cape of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their habits to gather at the back of the room. Numerous were wearing no religious outfit at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for merely eight eras, a music institution in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, identified Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their parishes to worship together in one room. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropoli.

The project, the members of the Jerusalem season of culture, was initiated by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah nearly a year ago. They contacted out to six other religious anatomies 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 rules, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never felt something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big danger and a great 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, the administration is reshaping world and we are doing it through prayer.

She emphasised how Amen not only brought closer Israels discordant beliefs, but also men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.

Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the rows 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 leads had congregated once 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 entirely new event. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has expended a different figure in the programme to prevent a backlash against their own families, who are originally from Lebanon, declared 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 melting devotions and traditions, each night the prayer live was hosted by a different religion illustration, and most of the prayer done through music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Speaking after the first nights occasion, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight daytimes. You realised suddenly “weve all” speaking the same expression, she said. It cant precisely has become a reminiscence, this has to be the vigor for the next step. We will use this as the seed to body-build Jerusalem a permanent home where all faiths can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly substantial was the cooperation of three imams, including one from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point website 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 nights.

In an atmosphere where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith solidarity can be hazardous. The imams asked 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 wreak them into Amen and obliged it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it proves other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in projects like this, he said. Of track, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties engaging, but its important at the same time to weed the seeds of parties coming together and receiving each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, site, location

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

The governors eventually settled on the small music academy, which educates both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a holy website for all three religions. The building, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, is also immediately below the secret zip wire once to benefit from smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green front from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty governed the interior design of the prayer home. Thin airstrips of white muslin hung from the ceiling, each countenancing a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompanying musicians, convened on wooden chairs.

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

To say the truth, I wasnt certainly persuaded at the beginning, he said. The impression was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it is able to happen. But when we started meet up, I was surprised at how real relationships developed between us all and I detected there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I recollect, is the humble beginning we need to change publics 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 is connected 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 few weeks to is everything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her gazes fitted with weepings as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they consider the channel Im garmented in wall 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 “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 Israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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