Jews, Muslims mark holy days

first_imgIn a rare occurrence, the start of two major religious holidays – Rosh Hashana and Ramadan – are being brought together this year, with the Jewish High Holy Days beginning today and Islamic officials declaring the start of their holiest time Thursday. Along with prayers at temples and synagogues, large Islamic centers and masjids, Jews and Muslims will devote the next several days to introspection, acts of generosity, forgiveness and personal renewal. With the holy days so close together, this “is a special time that comes about coincidentally,” said Amir Hussain, professor of religious studies at Loyola Marymount University. “It’s a fascinating time for people to see commonalities in each other.” Beginning at sundown today, Jews in Los Angeles will join those around the world in observing Rosh Hashana, the start of the high-holidays period that ends 10 days later with Yom Kippur. And after the new moon has been spotted by special committees in London and in the Middle East, the monthlong Ramadan observance will begin. Because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the start of Ramadan moves up 10 days every year. Some years it runs through summer. Ramadan is observed by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. No cursing, lying, act of anger or other hurtful behavior is allowed. After sundown, Muslims participate in iftar, or a meal to break the fast, with family and friends. Rosh Hashana, which loosely translated means “head of the year” in Hebrew, is ushered in with the blowing of the shofar, which is made of a ram’s horn. On Yom Kippur, Jews will fast, refrain from work, attend services, atone for past sins and resolve not to repeat them, and seek forgiveness. “I’m focusing on the whole issue of dreams that are sometimes not achieved and the need to reflect back on what we thought we wanted, what we hoped to achieve when in reality, we didn’t,” said Rabbi Richard Camras of Shomrei Torah synagogue in West Hills. Camras said he is using the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel as a metaphor for what can be achieved, and for the struggles still ahead. “It’s a message of hope,” he said. “Life is not always as we imagined, but often it is beyond our control. “Rosh Hashana reminds us that the world was created for each one us. Each one of us is given this marvelous opportunity for our life. Each year gives us new hope and possibility.” Perhaps more noteworthy, the two holy times coinciding can be used to continue the dialogue between the two communities that are often at odds in the Middle East, local religious leaders said. “This is an opportunity for moderate-thinking Jews and moderate-thinking Muslims to celebrate their respective faiths and respect the paths of God that others have chosen,” said Rabbi Jim Kaufman of Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village. “My wish for the coming year is that the people of this country will once again reassert themselves as smart, caring and assertive lovers of freedom.” That the two holiest of times for Jews and Muslims fall nearly on the same day brings a deeper, spiritual meaning, said Aref John Abedi, director of the Islamic Center of Reseda. “We must be kind and generous to all human beings regardless of race or color, and we should not keep any hatred That message of inclusion will be presented this week at services within the Jewish and Muslim communities. Rabbi Richard Flom of Burbank Temple Emanu El will speak about charity, about helping others at a time when many are suffering. “We as Jews and as Americans have become complacent, not just with charitable contributions, but in our day-to-day lives. We tend to turn away from things we don’t like to see. Sometimes it’s easier to avert our eyes.” As for the timing of the holidays, Flom wondered if there was more to it than just coincidence – if maybe God brought the two cultures together on purpose. “It’s a time for introspection,” he said, “when we should be thinking about each other.” susan.abram@dailynews.com (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img