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Published: Friday, 9/22/2006

Ramadan, High Holy Days begin this weekend for Muslims, Jews


The weekend will mark the start of important holidays for two of the world's major religions.

The Jewish High Holy Days begin tomorrow with Rosh Hashanah, celebrating the arrival of the New Year 5767, and Muslims will begin observing the holy month of Ramadan on Sunday.

Observance of Jewish holidays begins at sundown the night before the calendar day, so Jews will begin celebrating Rosh Hashana tonight, with the specific times varying among local congregations.

Both Muslims and Jews use the lunar calendar to determine their holy days. Since the lunar year has 11 fewer days than the solar calendar, the dates for the holy days shift annually on the Gregorian calendar.

While Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan are one day apart this year, they coincide precisely once every 33 years.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year and a time when faithful Muslims fast from food, drink, and sensual pleasure from dawn until dusk. The month observes God's revelation of the Qur'an, or holy book, to the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

"The whole month of Ramadan is a month for prayer and spiritual uplifting," said Imam Farooq Abo-Elzahab of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township. "The main goal is to pray for peace all over the world before reaching to God in righteousness."

Rosh Hashanah starts with the sounding of the shofar, or ram's horn, heralding God's creation of heaven and Earth.

The ram's horn also is a reminder of how God spared Isaac, substituting a ram after Abraham had placed his son on the altar, said Rabbi Edward Gasek of Congregation Etz Chayim.

Rosh Hashanah leads to the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, which will be Oct. 2 this year.

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