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People walk down Jaffa Street in Jerusalem on a Shabbat afternoon..(Photo by: ONDREJ ŽVÁCEK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
NGOs call for mutual Jewish-Muslim awareness on Yom Kippur Eid al-Adha coincidence
By JEREMY SHARON
09/21/2015
“We will fast, pray, sanctify and respect the day, and we will respect each other,” Abraham Fund video states.
With tensions in Jerusalem extremely high following recent Arab riots at the Temple Mount and in east Jerusalem, several coexistence and interfaith nongovernmental organizations have called on Jews and Muslims to be sensitive to the simultaneous observance of Yom Kippur and the Islamic holiday of Id al-Adha on Wednesday this year.

While Yom Kippur is a day of solemnity, fasting, and introspection, Id al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is a day of celebration marking Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael, often involving the slaughter of sheep for eating at celebratory meals.

In Islamic tradition, Abraham was about to offer his son Ishmael as a sacrifice, whereas the Bible records that Abraham’s youngest son, Isaac, was offered.

Due to the markedly different characteristics of the two holidays, misunderstandings in the past between Jewish and Muslim residents have led to riots, notably in 2008 in Acre, when a Muslim drove through a Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur leading to three days of violence.

In order to avert such incidents, the Abraham Fund, a coexistence group, has created a video that provides explanations in Hebrew and Arabic, with English subtitles, about the contrasting nature of the two holidays.

“We will fast, pray, sanctify and respect the day, and we will respect each other,” the video concludes, which was broadcast in schools and museums, and was used by NGOs and the Education Ministry.

The Abraham Fund called on mayors of mixed cities to prepare for the day, ensuring that Yom Kippur observance of fasting and prayer peacefully coincides with Id al-Adha celebrations, and that both are tolerated by all citizens.

“Yom Kippur and Id al-Adha, two holidays that fall on the same day and whose observances are almost opposite, makes it a very sensitive time and can lead to potential conflict and tension between Arabs and Jews,” said Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu and Thabet Abu Rass , CEOs of the Abraham Fund. “Experience from previous years has shown that advance preparation, education, and advocacy efforts lead to positive results, particularly in mixed cities. We are pleased that stakeholders from these cities chose to adopt the Abraham Fund’s model and prepared in advance for both holidays.”

Against the background of the recent violence and unrest in Jerusalem, a social media campaign organized by the NGO Kids Creating Peace was launched in the capital by 100 Israeli and Palestinian youths on Monday. Its purpose is to advance reconciliation and mutual respect between the two peoples and to mark the UN’s International Day of Peace, which is observed annually on September 21.

During the campaign, Israeli and Palestinian youths are taking “humanity selfies” of themselves, or more precisely, their eyes.

According to Kids Creating Peace, “The ‘humanity selfie’ is actually a close-up image of the eyes, designed to communicate human bonding and the value of judging each person by their personality rather than their physical appearance and the ethnic stereotypes all-too-often associated with it.”

The images will be uploaded to various social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, and to Twitter under the hashtag #IAMHUMANITY.

It is designed to be self-perpetuating by having each participant nominating three other individuals – celebrities, opinion leaders, or simply relatives or classmates – to upload a “humanity selfie” of their own.

The 14- to 18-year-old participants from the Palestinian Authority and Israel decided to embark on this campaign after meeting during the course of a binational program operated by Kids Creating Peace, with the assistance of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

This program included a summer camp attended by some 100 Israeli and Palestinian youth from Bethlehem, Dimona, Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Shoham, among other cities.

President Reuven Rivlin issued a written message for the event saying that to bring change in the relationship between Israel and Palestinians, neither side can indulge in accusing the other of responsibility or in adopting a sense of “holy righteousness,” adding that both sides are responsible for the conflict.

“There are here two nations who focused too little on the past and too much on the future; too much on their sense righteousness, and too little on understanding the story of the other side; too much on false hopes that the other side will disappear and not enough on internalizing that both parties are here to stay.”
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