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

Eight religious leaders brought their parishes together for eight daytimes in one area. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum seemed upon a mob 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 sweeps worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional pitch-black cape of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their dress gathered together at the back of the chamber. Many were wearing no religious clothe at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for exactly eight days, a music institution in the lowest depression of Jerusalem was be converted into a communal house of prayer, reputation Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their gatherings to worship together in one chamber. 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 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 patterns, but likewise open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never accepted something like this is a possibility in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big probability and a huge step. But this is not a political job; we wanted parties to come from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond ideology. Here, we are reshaping actuality and we are doing it through prayer.

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

Waida
Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the airstrips of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an evening of devotion and song. Image: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight commanders had met once 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 entirely new event. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has utilized a different identify in the programme to prevent a backlash against his family, 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 incorporating prayers and traditions, each night the prayer home 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 implemented in order to make sure the project lived on beyond its eight daylights. You realised suddenly “weve all” speaking the same speech, she said. It cant simply be a reminiscence, this has to be the power for the next step. We will use this as the seed to build Jerusalem a permanent lieu where all religions can come and pray alongside each other.

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

Particularly significant was the collaboration of three imams, including the right from al-Aqsa mosque its important locate 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 an atmosphere where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith unity can be dangerous. The imams expected not to be mentioned on the programme.

Ihab Balh are recognizing that constructing the project had been a challenging step, but that his work with these imams over the last few decades had laid the groundwork to raise them into Amen and acquired it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it presents other imams that there are devout religion Muslims who can play a role in jobs like this, he said. Of route, the allegations of normalisation are a challenge and the reality of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties opposing, but its important at the same time to plant the seeds of people coming together and understanding each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, location, location

In a city where geography is politics, the spot of the communal house of prayer was essential to ensuring the residents of Jerusalem abode Amen. Elad-Abblebaum admitted it had been a formidable exercise, 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 panic the project would prompt anger.

The leads eventually settled on the smaller music school, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits adjacent to Mount Zion, a sacred place for all three religions. The structure, which instantly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip cable once to benefit from smuggle injured Israeli soldiers over the green text from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the devotion residence. Thin strips of lily-white muslin hung from the ceiling, each bearing a quotation from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompanying musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

Rafik admitted he had been extremely sceptical when firstly approached by Elad-Abblebaum about the devotion house and had fulfilled some resist in his community.

To say the truth, I wasnt actually reassured at the start, he said. The project was very nice but I did not be seen to what extent it is able to happen. But when we started meeting up, I was astounded at how real affairs developed between us all and I detected there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I recall, is the humble beginning 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 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 view as political.

It shouldnt be taken for granted that a ardent Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her community for a week to do anything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her attentions filled with snaps as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes people, when they envision the channel Im garmented in the 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 there is 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 Israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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