Eight religious leaders created their flocks together for eight daytimes in one room. It was a hazardous move
In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum seemed upon a gathering 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 meagre dress and kippah wear in her synagogue, there were some bridges worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black attire of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and various nuns in their wonts gathered together at the back of the room. Many were wearing no religious outfit at all. But they were all there to pray.
Last week, and for precisely eight daytimes, a music institution in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, reputation Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their congregations to worship together in one room. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated municipality.
The project, part of the Jerusalem season of culture, was launched by Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah almost a year ago. They reached out to six other religion digits 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 said: I never believed something like this is a possibility in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big gamble and a huge step. But this is not a political project; we wanted people to come from the right and from the left and had demonstrated that faith is beyond dogma. Here, we are reshaping reality and we are doing it through prayer.
She emphasised how Amen is not merely brought together Israels discordant beliefs, but also men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.
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