Eight religious leaders raised their parishes together for eight days in one room. It was a dangerous move
In a small building in the foreboding darknes of Jerusalems Mount Zion, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum ogled 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 gathering 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 tattered in her synagogue, there were some crossings worn around cervixes. Others sat in the traditional black robe of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab and several nuns in their practices gathered together at the back of the room. Numerous were wearing no religious garb at all. But they were all there to pray.
Last week, and for simply eight periods, a music institution in the lowest valley of Jerusalem was transferred to a communal house of prayer, identified Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their flocks to worship together in one chamber. 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 almost a year ago. They contacted out to six other religious people 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 likewise open to discussions with other faiths.
Elad-Abblebaum said: I never conceived something like this would be possible in my lifetime. Jews who live in the territories publicly praying along with Palestinians, this is a big jeopardy and a huge step. But this is not a political projection; we wanted beings to come from the right and from the left and to show 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 too men and women, which is almost unheard of in such inter-religious gatherings.
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