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Unity causes Jerusalem a devotion: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for adore

Eight religious leaders returned their parishes together for eight eras in one chamber. It was a dangerous move

In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum ogled upon a crowd 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 parish 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 cross 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 gathered together at the back of the room. Numerous were wearing no religious clothe at all. But they were all there to pray.

Last week, and for only eight dates, a music school 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 parishes to worship together in one area. It was a sight rarely seen in this segregated metropolitan.

The project, part of the Jerusalem season of culture, is an initiative of Elad-Abblebaum and the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah nearly a year ago. They reached out to six other religious representations 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 traditions, but also open to discussions with other faiths.

Elad-Abblebaum said: I never speculated something like this would be possible 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 projection; we wanted parties was derived 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 together Israels discordant religions, but too 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 night of devotion and song. Picture: Michal Fattal

We were all speaking the same language

Over the previous six months, all eight commanders had satisfied formerly 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 completely new experience. Catholic Rev Rafik, who has use a different reputation in the programme to prevent a reaction against his family, who are originally from Lebanon, declared 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 institutions, each night the prayer mansion was hosted by a different religious representation, 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 occurrence, Elad-Abblebaum said she was already working to make sure development projects lived on beyond its eight dates. You realised unexpectedly “weve all” speaking the same communication, she said. It cant just has become a retention, this has to be the intensity for the next step. We will use this as the seed to build Jerusalem a permanent home where all sects can come and pray alongside one another.

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

Particularly substantial was the assistance provided by three imams, including information from al-Aqsa mosque the most important website for Muslims in Jerusalem and another Palestinian imam who roamed from the West Bank city of Nablus to participate in one of the devotion evenings.

In a climate where Arab involvement in any activity involving Jews leads to accusations of normalisation, such interfaith unity can be dangerous. The imams questioned not to be called on the programme.

Ihab Balh have recognised 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 raise them into Amen and realized it seem more acceptable.

This project is a milestone because it presents other imams that there are devout religious Muslims who can play a role in activities like this, he said. Of course, accusations of normalisation are a challenge and current realities of Jerusalem today is hatred and parties campaigning, but its important at the same is now time to flora the seeds of parties coming together and watching each other. Thats what I am doing here.

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

Location, site, 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 acknowledged it had been a formidable project, having been refused again and again by places available in both the east and the west of the city and on Mount Zion itself for fright development projects would motivate anger.

The governors eventually settled on the small music school, which teaches both Jews and Arabs and sits contiguous to Mount Zion, a pious locate for all three beliefs. The construct, which directly faces the poverty-stricken Palestinian locality of Silwan, is also instantly below the secret zip cable formerly used to smuggle disabled Israeli soldiers over the dark-green row from East to West Jerusalem.

Modesty determined the interior design of the devotion live. Thin strips of grey muslin hung from the ceiling, each suffering a quote from the bible, the Torah or the Quran in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their associate musicians, sat on wooden chairs.

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

To say the truth, I wasnt genuinely convinced at the start, he said. The plan was very nice but I did not see how it is unable to happen. But when we started join up, I was surprised at how real relations developed between us all and I discovered there was something interesting there. And that friendship between us, I envision, is the humble beginning we need to change peoples 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 participation being view as political.

It shouldnt be taken for granted that a piou Muslim woman leaves her husband and her children and her community for a week to is everything, let alone this, Mahmeed said, and her eyes fitted with rips as she indicated her hijab.

Sometimes beings, when they picture the road Im garmented in the street they are afraid of me because they believing that every Muslim has a knife to jab a Jew. It is important to emphasise there is a difference between what I read in the Quran and how people act in the name of the Quran. God didnt was just told to stand up and kill people. I feel a lot of suffering and sorrow because of whats going on between Both israelis and Palestinians.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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