Rabbi Marc Schneier and Imam Shamsi Ali discuss the coincidence this year of Rosh Hashanah and Eid al-Fitr, with regard to the ongoing controversy around the planned Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. Touching on the legacy of a shared history and theology, the writers urge both Jews and Muslims to consider this unfortunate coincidence as an opportunity to speak out against religious intolerance:
Whatever one’s position on the highly emotional question of whether the Islamic community center should be built at its present site or be moved to a location further away, it is past time for all Americans of conscience to step forward and say, ‘Inciting to religious hatred is unacceptable.’ Specifically, with both Rosh Hashanah and the feast of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, falling this year on September 10–one day before the ninth anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks– American Jews and Muslims must stand shoulder to shoulder against all manifestations of religious hatred, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. If we can rise to the occasion at this fraught moment, our two communities can play a significant role in stopping the disturbing spread of bigotry and intolerance in this country.
Muslims and Jews should undertake this mission in the spirit of the very similar messages transmitted by our holidays and the deepest shared values of our two faith traditions. Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah are both based on timeless principles of the unity and brotherhood of all human beings. Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of humankind itself and reminds us that all people,, regardless of ethnic or religious background, are created in God’s image. As President Obama noted in a recent message to the American Muslim community, Ramadan is a time when Muslims “reflect on the responsibility human beings have to each other and to God.”
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