Whenever I'm asked if the Jewish holidays are coming early or late this year, I promptly answer that they'll be coming on time. And that's partially true. Rosh Hashanah will always arrive on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei just as Hanukkah will always begin on the 25th of Kislev.
This week, the Jewish community celebrates Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, a holy day that continues through today.* While we in the Jewish community are celebrating a new month, the Muslim community is observing Eid al-Fitr, one of two Muslim festival holidays commemorating the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the month of Shawwal.
This confluence of celebrations is bound to happen because both Judaism and Islam follow a lunar calendar. But even the fundamental fact that both faith traditions follow a lunar calendar is an important reminder that we have more in common than what makes us different. The coinciding holidays remind us to celebrate the similarities of our faith traditions, exploring the values, teachings, or practices that unite us.
When I left for college my freshman year, I was nervous about exploring a new Jewish community. However, I immediately felt at home as I walked into my university’s Hillel’s Conservative Friday night services and saw the Siddur Sim Shalom, the prayer book I had grown up with.
Rarely does a 16-year-old Jewish girl from suburban Massachusetts get the chance to look back on her day and recognize that she helped make history. She didn’t just talk about it or write about it; she actually experienced it, and all before 9:00 a.m.