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A special day

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A special day by Carol Wolman

Today we celebrate both Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the start of Ramadan. It is highly unusual for both of these holidays to fall on the same day, and gives us a unique opportunity to pray for unification of the Abrahamic faiths.

Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the High Holy Days, eight days of repentance and prayer, culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a fast day. During this period, Jews are supposed to reflect on the past year, repent of sins they have committed, and ask forgiveness of those whom they have hurt.

Psalm 130: 3-4 If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.

Ramadan is likewise the holiest time of year for Muslims. "Muslim" means "servant of God"- no special induction ceremony is necessary, so anyone can join the ummah- body of Islamic believers- and observe the Ramadan fast. This lasts for a month, and consists of fasting during daylight hours.

According to the Wikipedia, Eating, smoking, drinking and intercourse during the day are prohibited. During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, backbiting, and are meant to try and get along with each other better than normal. All obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided. Purity of both thought and action is important. The fast is an exacting act of deeply personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God. The act of fasting redirects the hearts away from worldly activities.

Both of these periods of worship, Jewish and Muslim, involve self-sacrifice and prayer. I invite all peacemakers to participate in one or both as much as possible. Although Jews make a clear distinction between themselves and Gentiles, everyone can relate to the idea of a week of making amends to those we have harmed. Muslims welcome all, and we can experience solidarity with the Iraqi and Palestinian people by observing the Ramadan fast, within our Western limitations- we are not used to austerity.

There is no special Christian holiday at this time, but surely the Prince of Peace would encourage all peacemakers to use this conjunction of holy days to draw closer to God, and to rededicate ourselves to establishing His peaceful kingdom here on earth.

In His name, Carol Wolman
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Carol S. Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist in Northern California. A lifelong peace activist, she is helping to distribute a Peace Plan for the Holy Land- email her for a copy. She also a film producer with Paradise Cove Productions, currently (more...)

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