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September 7, 2015 3:26 pm

Fear of Inter-Religious Tension as Jewish and Muslim High Holidays Coincide This Year

avatar by David Daoud

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This year, the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur and Islam's Eid Al-Adha will coincide. PHOTO: Washington University.

This year, the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur and Islam’s Eid Al-Adha will coincide. Photo: Washington University.

The Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur and the Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha are set to fall this year on the same Gregorian (or Christian) calendar date, September 23, Israeli news site nrg reported on Monday.

According to the report, far from carrying potential for Muslim-Jewish inter-religious dialogue, this coincidence could lead to friction between Jews and Arabs in Israel, due to the diametrically opposed nature of the holidays.

To help diffuse any potential tensions that may arise, and to promote mutual respect and tolerance between the two religious communities, the Abraham Fund, a charity which promotes religious integration in Israel, produced a video that will be broadcast on Israel’s leading television channels and spread on social media. The aim of the video, in Arabic and Hebrew, is to raise awareness of the complementary nature of both holidays.

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The video’s graphics were created by internationally acclaimed collage artist Chanoch Piven and it is narrated by Jewish-Israeli actor Alon Neuman and Palestinian singer/songwriter/actress Mira Awad, famous for her having sung a duet with Achinoam Nini (known as “Noa” on the international stage) at the 2009 Eurovision song contest — and for her role in the Israeli television sitcom Avoda Aravit (Arab Labor).

Piven said his participation in the project was a result of his involvement with the Abraham Fund, and of his desire to make more room for dialogue between Jews and Arabs in Israel. He expressed hope that the video will “increase at least one millimeter of tolerance between Jews and Arabs in Israel.”

Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day in Judaism. It is traditionally observed by fasting for 25 hours and spending most of the day praying at a synagogue.

Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, is considered a major festival in Islam, during which Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as God commanded. Unlike in the Biblical tradition, however, Muslims believe that the son to be sacrificed was Ishmael, rather than Isaac.

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