Israel’s Top Religious Leaders Gather for First-ever Joint Prayer (with VIDEO REPORT)
Jerusalem service includes supplication for healing from coronavirus composed by chief rabbis
In a show of religious unity during the coronavirus pandemic, spiritual leaders gathered at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon to say a joint prayer for health composed by the chief rabbis of Israel.
It was the first time that all of Israel’s spiritual leaders gathered in one place to recite the same prayer, according to the organizers.
“Jerusalem is the house of prayer for all the people, and now, all the people all over the world are suffering from this coronavirus,” Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa said after the prayer was recited simultaneously in Hebrew, Arabic and English. “So it’s important that here in Jerusalem, we pray for all the people and that we are all together.”
The event was livestreamed worldwide.
The other faith leaders in attendance were Imam Sheikh Agel Al-Atrash, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Druze leader Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Imam Sheikh Gamal el Ubra and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.
The seven religious leaders read the joint coronavirus prayer in Jerusalem on April 22.
Social distancing measures were on display as the prayer was recited, with Ubra and Atrash wearing face masks. The event took place outside in the hotel’s courtyard on a mild spring day.
The prayer composed by the chief rabbis called on God to “send complete recovery to the sick, avert the plague from Your World.”
After the main prayer was recited, Theophilos III said an individual prayer to God for compassion, as those who are able can “extend a helping hand to our fellow brothers and sisters of whom we share your image.”
According to the latest update from the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine coronavirus tracker, the number of confirmed cases in Israel stands at over 14,300, with 188 deaths. The number of cases worldwide stands at more than 2,585,400, with some 178,850 fatalities.
Religious observances have been disrupted in Israel, with the nation under lockdown for the Passover holiday, and Christian pilgrims unable to fly in for Holy Week and Easter. The Waqf religious authorities announced that there will be no Ramadan prayers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.
The interfaith event was a collaboration of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the World Council of Religious Leaders and various Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.
Besides addressing the coronavirus pandemic, the gathering was organized to counter rising anti-Semitism and racism in the world.
“We were able to do something that is quite rare in Jerusalem – that Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians together at the same time say the same prayer together,” said Pizzaballa. “So I hope that this beginning will continue after coronavirus because we need, here in Jerusalem, to pray all together for all of the people around the world.”