An Opportunity for Peace (Eid/Yom Kippur Break Fast)

Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur overlap once every 33 years, and I was lucky enough to be in Georgetown when both holidays coincided this year. Days before the two holidays, I remember speaking with Jewish and Muslim friends about the overlapping of the two holidays and what a great opportunity for cooperation, understanding, and peace it was. After the news was released that there would be a joint break fast for Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur, I immediately knew our wishes for cooperation, understating, and peace were going to be fulfilled.

After a long day of prayer, fasting, and reflection, I entered Copley Formal Lounge and was struck by the energy that resided within it. I had never seen the room so full, but besides its large amount of attendees, the room had an air of compassion and empathy within it. Salaam and shalom resonated throughout the room as everyone greeted each other and discussed how their respective holidays were going so far.

When the event officially began, Imam Hendi and Rabbi Gartner grabbed everyone’s attention. Standing side by side, they took turns explaining the significance of Eid al-Adha, which celebrates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ishmael, and the significance of Yom Kippur, which marks the end of a 10-day period of reflection and repentance named the Days of Awe. Although one holiday marks a time of celebration and another marks a time of repentance, both holidays are alike in that they involve fasting. After explaining the significance of both religious holidays, they came together to emphasize the importance of understanding and peace, during which many of Jewish attendees, Muslim attendees, and attendees of other faiths smiled and nodded in agreement.

As a result of the break fast, I gained a better understanding of Eid al-Adha, learned the significance of Yom Kippur, and most importantly, had the chance to celebrate the two holidays in an environment of inter-religious cooperation and understanding. 33 years from now when Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur overlap again, I will remember the touching experience I had here at Georgetown and will strive to create another beautiful inter-religious gathering just like it.

Written by Nena Beecham (new window), F’18