A rabbi, an imam, and a pastor are planning to pull off an interfaith miracle in the heart of Berlin, Germany by creating a sacred space for three religions under one roof.
The House of One will be a shared place of prayer and learning for the city's Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities that celebrates the commonalities of the religions longest associated with Berlin. On Tuesday, it came one step closer to becoming a reality with the kickoff of a crowdfunding campaign, reports The Local.
The unusual project was initiated by Gregor Hohberg, a Protestant pastor. He is joined by Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin and Imam Kadir Sanci. "Berlin is the city of the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful coexistence of believers from different faiths – they yearn to understand each other," Hohberg told The Independent.
The chosen site on Museum Island is rich with history, housing the remains of Berlin's earliest church, the Petrikirche, and a Latin school which dates back to 1350. When archaeologists excavated the area in 2009, they "quickly agreed that something visionary and forward looking should be built on what is the founding site of Berlin," Hohberg says.
The organizers are planning to finance the €43,500,000 project entirely through crowdfunding, with one brick costing just €10. A symbolic first brick was handed over on Tuesday to start the process. According to The Local, construction will begin in earnest once the first €10,000,000 is raised.
Designed by architect Wilfried Kuehn, the building will house a separate church, synagogue, and mosque under one roof, with all prayer spaces leading to a common room where the congregations can socialize, reports the Times of Israel. The planners decided to make space for individual places of worship rather than simply a common prayer room in order to attract more worshippers.
Sanci hopes the project will normalize relations between people of diverse backgrounds. ""We want our children to have a future in which diversity is the norm," he told The Independent.
Ben-Chorin sees it as a place to heal old wounds without forgetting them. "Berlin is the city of wounds and miracles," he told The Independent. "It is the city in which the extermination of the Jews was planned. Now, the first house in the world for three religions is to be built here."