Yom Kippur and Ashura

The Juxtaposition on the Calendar Has Great Meaning

I’m a sucker for writing about “accidents of the calendar.” This is especially true when they deal with interfaith holidays. And we are upon another one of those “accidents of the calendar.”

Tonight, after sundown, marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of Atonement. The following day marks the Islamic holiday of Ashura.

Not only is the juxtaposition in the calendar appropriate, but the themes of both are also quite similar. Yom Kippur is all about atonement, forgiveness, and return to the Lord. Ashura commemorates the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Two faith communities commemorating very similar things at the same time.

The reason I almost always want to comment on such “accidents of the calendar” is that I perpetually yearn for interfaith harmony and peace.

There is so much injustice in our world today. And this injustice is directed towards people of faith and directed by people of faith. In the Holy Land, there are Muslims who are suffering at the hands of Jews. And, in the very same land, there are Jews suffering at the hands of Muslims.

Each side points out the suffering coming from the other, but sometimes they fail to acknowledge the suffering which they themselves are meting out to the other.

That is why I feel it is so important to speak and write about how much our two faith communities have in common, and these “accidents of the calendar” help in that regard.

Do I wish the occupation of Palestinian land goes away? Absolutely. No one person deserves to live under military occupation. Do I also wish violence and hatred directed towards Jews — because of the conflict in the Holy Land — goes away? Once again, absolutely. No one deserves to face violence and hatred because of who they are or what they believe.

On Yom Kippur, Jews will be fasting in atonement for the sins committed against the Lord. On that very same day and the next, Muslims are also encouraged to fast, to celebrate the freedom of the Children of Israel from bondage and slavery in Egypt. This should be a powerful and poignant reminder that our two communities are so close and have so much in common, and we should never let the conflict over there affect our good relationship over here.

Muslims and Jews need each other more than ever before. We are faced with an Administration that is hostile to one community and openly sympathizes who those who are hostile to the other. We need to support one another and make sure each of us is safe from the evil of those who seek to divide and foment hatred.

Whenever we get such “accidents of the calendar,” I believe it to be a reminder from our Lord for us to always remember who we are and what we should be doing on earth: working together for peace for all.