Eight religious leaders produced their gatherings together for eight periods in one chamber. It was a hazardous move
In a small building in the foreboding shadow of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum searched upon a army 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 tattered in her synagogue, there were some meets worn around cervixes. Others sat in the conventional black gown of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their wonts to gather at the back of the chamber. Many were wearing no religious garb at all. But they were all there to pray.
Last week, and for only eight daytimes, a music institution in the lowest hollow of Jerusalem was transformed into a communal house of prayer, called 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 metropoli.
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 conventional in their beliefs and patterns, but also open to discussions with other faiths.
Elad-Abblebaum said: I never felt something like this is a possibility in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying together with Palestinians, this is a big peril and a great step. But this is not a political job; we wanted beings to come from the right and from the left and to show that faith is beyond dogma. Here, we are reshaping actuality and we are doing it through prayer.
She emphasised how Amen not only brought together Israels discordant beliefs, but also men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.
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