Two faiths, two seasons: one goal


For Jews and Muslims, the sacred seasons of Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan, both of which began this week, mark a period of introspection and a quest for atonement.

Rosh Hashanah, or the new year, began at sundown Wednesday night. It’s the beginning of a new Jewish calendar. Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month, begins at dawn on Thursday.

The overlapping of the seasons is rare — once about every 30 years. Both communities use the lunar calendar to determine the beginning of their sacred seasons.

In the Twin Cities, Jewish and Muslim leaders are capitalizing on the coincidence to rev up interfaith services. On Oct. 8, An-Nur mosque in north Minneapolis will host a three-hour interfaith service.

Jews observe Rosh Hashanah for two days, though some observe for only one day. Then follows a 10-day period of introspection, known as the Days of Awe, which concludes with Yom Kippur, another important holiday

Jews believe that Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world. For most, the holiday marks the beginning of a spiritual connection to God.

Meanwhile, Muslims believe that the Qur’an, their holy book, was revealed during this month. Barring special circumstances, Muslim adults (older than age 15) are expected to fast from food, water and other pleasures from dawn to dusk for a period of a month. After dinner, a special, optional prayer is observed.

More importantly, Ramadan is a source of solace and peace for Muslims. Eid Al-Fitr, Islam’s second holiest day, concludes Ramadan.