Jewish and Muslim leaders hold coexistence meeting before Yom Kippur, Id al-Adha

Leaders call for tolerance and respectful celebrations ahead of this weekend’s concurring holidays.

Jewish and Muslim leaders gather in Lod, September 1, 2014.  (photo credit: MINO WAHIDY)
Jewish and Muslim leaders gather in Lod, September 1, 2014.
(photo credit: MINO WAHIDY)
A unique gathering consisting of both chief rabbis, the head of the Shari’a court based in Jaffa and a number of Knesset members took place on Wednesday in Lod to call for tolerance and respectful celebrations of this weekend’s concurring observance of Yom Kippur and Id al-Adha.
Yom Kippur coincides with the Muslim festival of Id al-Adha this year, with both falling on October 4, leading to concerns of intercommunal conflict.
Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, coexecutive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, told The Jerusalem Post that “the intention of organizing the event was to raise awareness among Israelis that both holidays are very important.”
“The vast majority of Israelis are not aware that both holidays will occur on the same day and this unawareness is a great danger,” he said, since Jews could mistakenly think that Muslims would be celebrating on Yom Kippur for the sake of disruption when in fact they have their own important holiday tradition.
The second purpose of holding the event was to get top leaders from both the Jewish and Arab communities to encourage their respective followers to demonstrate restraint and behave responsibly while avoiding incitement, said Be’eri-Sulitzeanu.
“I think that we managed to achieve both goals.”
“The mere fact that both chief rabbis were there and the chief of the Shari’a court was extremely significant as you don’t see that very often,” he added, remarking that people in attendance said it was a “historic event.”
Asked if violence on the upcoming holiday would spoil his organization’s work, Be’eri-Sulitzeanu responded that already at least one goal was achieved – that of raising awareness.
The Abraham Fund spent two weeks putting this together, he said, writing letters to leaders, speaking with the police, contacting President Reuven Rivlin and running an ad campaign.
“All of this together raised awareness,” he said.
Knesset members Merav Michaeli (Labor), Ibrahim Sarsour (United Arab List- Ta’al), Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) and the Lod Mayor Yair Revivo were among those who attended.
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar and is traditionally observed by fasting, refraining from bathing and other physical comforts as well as daylong prayers in synagogues.
Id al-Adha, however, is a festive celebration involving large family and communal feasts to commemorate the Muslim tradition in which Abraham was willing to submit to divine will and sacrifice his son Ishmael although ultimately a lamb was sacrificed instead.
The Muslim holiday differs from the earlier Jewish tradition that holds that Abraham was ready to sacrifice Isaac, not Ishmael.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.