BERLIN – A rabbi, an imam and a priest start praying together under the same roof. It may sound like the start of a joke, but hopes are high it will become reality in Berlin.
The three men are working together to build a common house of worship – the House of One – in the center of the capital that will include a church, a mosque and a synagogue, as well as a joint meeting hall at the center of the building.
We have noticed, as a community here in the middle of the city, that a lot of people want to meet people from different backgrounds and religions and that there is a strong desire to show that people from different religions can get along, Pastor Gregor Hohberg of Berlin’s St. Petri parish told The Associated Press. We want to make a point and show that religions can be a cause of peace.
Hohberg came up with the idea for the House of One, and teamed with Berlin Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin and Imam Kadir Sanci. The trio hope Christians, Jews and Muslims will soon study and pray together.
I believe in the power of dialogue, Chorin said. In the world we live in we have two possibilities: war or peace. Peace is a process and in order to achieve it, you have to talk to each other.
The future interfaith meeting place is planned for the Petriplatz square in downtown Berlin. Currently there’s nothing but a few old sycamore trees on a sandy parcel of land that is surrounded by a busy street and old East German tenement buildings.
But the spot has a long history: It is the place where the city was first settled in the 13th century, and for hundreds of years was home to Berlin’s St. Petri church, until it was heavily damaged during World War II and eventually torn down by East German authorities in 1964.
The city, which inherited the plot after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has given its OK for the construction of the House of One.