CAIR: Moderate Friends of Terror to participate in interfaith Tent of Abraham lovefest at 'Jihad U' in St.Petersburg FL
October 3, 2005
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October brings Union of Faith Celebration
October is being noted for its confluence of the Jewish and Muslim holy months.
Though the calendar of both faiths is dictated by the moon, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holy month of Tishri do not often coincide.
That's so because the Jewish calendar adds an additional lunar "leap month" seven times in a 19-year cycle to bring the calendar back into the rhythm of a solar year, explains Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia.
This year and for the next two years, both Tishri and Ramadan will begin around the same time. Tishri, the month during which Jews observe Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, will begin Monday at sundown. Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, will begin early next week with the first sighting of the crescent moon.
The confluence of these holy periods has led some Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths around the United States to commemorate what is being referred to as "God's October Surprise."
In Pinellas County, an interfaith group called Serving the One is planning two events. Saturday evening Jews, Christians, Bahais and others will gather to announce the arrival of the holy months of Ramadan and Tishri at Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg. On Oct. 12, from sunrise to sunset, they will take part in a nationwide fast "for reflection, repentance, reconciliation and renewal." That day also is Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day, which is spent in prayer and fasting. Muslims will also be fasting that day as part of their Ramadan obligation. That evening, the Pinellas County interfaith group is planning a public banquet to break the day's fast. It will be held in the student activities center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
The idea to commemorate the Jewish and Muslim holy months originated with a national group, the Tent of Abraham, Hagar, & Sarah, in Philadelphia. The group was conceived by Waskow of the Shalom Center, said Kate Fagan, Rabbinic chaplain at Bayfront Medical Center and one of the local organizers. According to its Web site, tentofabraham.org, the national group was formed out of a shared spiritual concern for peace, justice and healing on Earth. The Web site notes that October also is marked by the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which falls on Tuesday, and Communion Sunday for many Christian denominations, which is Sunday.
Locally, Serving the One is described as "a diverse interfaith group made up of committed individuals dedicated to building bridges of understanding." It got its start with Fagan.
"I just feel as though God just brought this wonderful group of people together and it's so exciting," said Fagan, who learned about the October events through Waskow. "I know that I can't do much about the war in Iraq or starving people in Africa, but I can help to build community and bring about understanding right here in St. Petersburg," she said.
"We wanted to use this rare occurence to bring people of faith together," said Ahmed Bedier, director of the Central Florida office of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
Pinellas organizers hope to involve people from throughout the Tampa Bay area next year, he said, when the Muslim and Jewish holy months will again converge.
Next time, we hope to be bigger and better," Fagan said. "If we eat together and sing together and pray together, we will break down the walls of ignorance and hatred."