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'Community building during divisive times' as Redbridge three faiths forum attends Holy Land

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 December 2019

Member of the Three Faith Forum visiting Israel and Palestine at the ancient port of Jaffa. Picture: David Hulbert

Member of the Three Faith Forum visiting Israel and Palestine at the ancient port of Jaffa. Picture: David Hulbert

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Muslims, Jews and Christians from an East London three faiths forum escaped the election by visiting the Holy Land together.

The group at al-Jazzar Mosque in Acre. Picture: David HulbertThe group at al-Jazzar Mosque in Acre. Picture: David Hulbert

Two dozen members from the United Reform Church, South Woodford Mosque and the East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue visited religious sites in Israel and Palestine earlier this month for their eighth annual trip.

Rabbi David Hulbert, one of the founders of the Three Faiths Forum who retired after 30 years of service earlier this year, spoke about how important it was to get people with different viewpoints together for the trip.

Outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Picture: David HulbertOutside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Picture: David Hulbert

He told the Recorder: "The faiths are different but we find out so many of the things that we share in common.

"It's a great experience and every year I go I learn something new."

The group visited historic sites this month. Picture: Javed BhattiThe group visited historic sites this month. Picture: Javed Bhatti

Imam Dr Mohammed Fahim from South Woodford Mosque, who was on his seventh trip to the Holy Land, recounted one of his favourite moments when the group was standing close to the western wall in Palestine at sundown and they could hear prayers from all three religions at the same time.

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He said: "This shows that we can all live together in peace and practice our religions without fear or oppression.

"These trips bring us closer to each other and help us to get to know each other in a much better way.
"Our aim is to promote peace and understanding between all the children of Adam irrespective of their race or religion."

The attendees spoke about the bonds they made across faiths, ages and backgrounds and how those friendships will continue back in Redbridge.

Dr Sabha Mohsin, who went on the trip with her husband, said: "I feel so many of us have met people that we will continue to have lasting friendships with - a great example of community building during these divisive times."

"The trip was the best history lesson I've ever had and a wonderfully education and spiritual experience."

Upon returning from the trip Javed Bhatti, of South Woodford said: "We witnessed Jews, Christians and Muslims living together happily.

"At the end of the day there is more that connects us than divides us."

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