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Unity imparts Jerusalem a devotion: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for venerate

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

In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum gazed upon a mob setting 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 flock 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 necks. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black cape of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their attires to gather at the back of the room. Many were wearing no religion clothe at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for precisely eight eras, a music school in the lowest valley of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, referred Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their flocks to worship together in one room. 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 contacted out to six other religion fleshes 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 practises, but likewise open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never guessed something like this is a possibility in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big danger and a great step. But this is not a political assignment; we wanted beings are derived from the right and from the left and had demonstrated that faith is beyond dogma. Here, the administration is reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.

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

Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the airstrips of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an night of prayer and song. Photo: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight managers had fulfilled 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 knowledge. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has used a different mention in the programme to prevent a backlash against their own families, who are initially from Lebanon, admitted 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 coalescing devotions and habits, each night the devotion home was hosted by a different religious 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 contest, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight eras. You realised unexpectedly we were all speaking the same usage, she said. It cant only be a recognition, this has to be the intensity for the next step. We will use this as the seed to body-build Jerusalem a permanent plaza where all sects can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly substantial was the cooperation of three imams, including the right from al-Aqsa mosque the most important point place for Muslims in Jerusalem and the other Palestinian imam who toured 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 hazardous. The imams expected not to be appointed on the programme.

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

This project is a milestone because it demonstrates other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in assignments like this, he said. Of trend, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and people crusading, but its important at the same time to bush the seeds of people coming together and hearing each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, spot, location

In a city where geography is politics, the location of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem admitted Amen. Elad-Abblebaum admitted it had been a formidable duty, 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 dread the project would incite anger.

The commanders eventually settled on the smaller music academy, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a pious area for all three beliefs. The construct, which immediately faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian community of Silwan, is also directly below the secret zip wire formerly used to smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green route from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty decided the interior design of the prayer live. Thin rows of grey muslin hung from the ceiling, each suffering a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompanying musicians, baby-sit on wooden chairs.

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

To say the truth, I wasnt actually convinced at the beginning, he said. The theory was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it is able to happen. But when we started session up, I was surprised at how real rapports developed between us all and I detected there was something fascinating there. And that friendship between us, I suppose, is the humble beginning we need to change families 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 devout Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her parish for a week to is everything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her sees filled with rips as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes parties, when they examine the course Im dressed in the street they are afraid of me because they be considered that every Muslim has a knife to stab a Jew. It is important to emphasise “theres a difference between” what I speak 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 Israel and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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