Jews and Muslims Come Together at Confluence of Religious Holidays, Tishri and Ramadan

September 17, 2006

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On September 17, 2006 the St. Petersburg Times reported, "Concentrating hard, Shadeed Ahmed placed his lips on the shofar and blew.At first, nothing. Then, a guttural roar. 'That’s pretty good,' said Rabbi Michael Torop, who leads Temple Beth-El in St. Petersburg. 'You’re going to put me out of a job, man.' Shadeed, a first-grader at Valrico Elementary School in Hillsborough County, said the instrument sounded like an elephant. The rabbi and the 6-year-old, a Jew and a Muslim, gathered with more than 100 people Sunday in North Straub Park to celebrate the commonalities of their faiths, particularly the confluence of their religions’ holiest months. This week, Jews will kick off the month of Tishri, which includes Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Muslims will begin Ramadan, in which they fast during daylight hours. Both faiths abide by lunar calendars, but their holy months only coincide about every 30 years. In this cycle, Ramadan and Tishri converged in 2005, this year and will meet once again in 2007. Such a convergence won’t come again for 33 years. Serving The One, an interfaith group that organized Sunday’s gathering, saw the occurrence as an opportunity to bring people of different faiths together. 'There is not very much that I can do about President Bush’s decisions regarding the Middle East or what the Israeli government does or what terrorists do,' said Kate Fagan, the group’s co-chairwoman and a rabbinic chaplain at Bayfront Medical Center. 'But when I see people of the Muslim faith and become friends with them and share those friends with my friends, then I begin to understand what they’re about. And I realize that we’re all the same, and that we really do all want peace.'"