Celebration instead of war

For more than a billion Muslims around the world, the month of Ramadan begins this Thursday. Fasting, like the profession of faith, daily prayers, the poor tax and the pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam. And the Jews celebrate their New Year today. Are Muslims and Jews so busy celebrating even in the holy land that for once they refrain from fighting each other? Johannes Zang, this site correspondent in Israel, reports from Jerusalem and Cardinal Meisner of Cologne congratulates the Jewish communities in the archdiocese.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner has congratulated the Jewish communities in Cologne, Bonn, Dusseldorf and Wuppertal on their New Year's celebrations. He wished all Jews in Germany, Israel and the whole world a life in peace and freedom, says the greeting to the rabbis and community boards distributed on Wednesday. In recent years, many Catholic Christians have visited synagogues and learned about Judaism. These encounters are an expression of real interest and friendly ties, he said. "We are happy to continue on this path. In cordial solidarity I greet you and wish you Shana towa," the letter concludes. Increased security precautions In Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began Thursday under heightened security measures. Since the Jewish New Year's Day Rosh Hashanah was also celebrated on Thursday, the security forces reckoned with an increased risk of attacks. Thousands of police officers were massed in Jerusalem, according to the local press.The Defense Ministry imposed a total closure on the West Bank and Gaza for the two days of Rosh Hashanah, closing all checkpoints. Only Muslims living within this restricted area will therefore be able to get to the first Friday prayer in Ramadan at the El Aksa mosque. Israeli peace groups therefore expect riots at the various checkpoints around Jerusalem this Friday. Restricted access to the temple be For the entire month of fasting, the Israeli military has set an age limit for admittance to prayers on the Temple Mount. According to the report, only men 45 and older and women 35 and older will be admitted. Many also need special permission. In past years, there have been repeated clashes between security forces and those turned away at the checkpoints.The Israeli military has also increased its presence in the city of Hebron, which is revered by Jews and Muslims alike for the tomb of Abraham, for the coming weeks. On Thursday, the Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher, which is used as a mosque and synagogue, was closed to Muslims. Tensions are also expected there for Friday – as a high day of prayer for Muslims and at the same time a holiday for the Jewish settlers living in Hebron.

What do Jews celebrate on New Year's Day? In Israel and Jewish communities around the world, Jews celebrate Rosh Hashana ("Head of the Year") New Year on Thursday and Friday. The two-day festival begins as early as Wednesday evening, the eve of the first day of the Jewish month of "Tishre". The Jews welcome the year 5768 after the creation of the world.Typical for the festival is the blowing of the shofar, the ram's horn, which is used to call for prayer and repentance. The New Year reminds Jews of the covenant between God and Israel, which is a moral obligation for Israelites. The holidays should cause people to introspect, turn away from evil and act well. In Jewish tradition, the New Year has the character of a day of judgment: God's judgment on man and man's accountability for his own actions.Religious Jews go to synagogue on the eve of Rosh Hashana and ask for forgiveness. A festive meal is prepared at home and candles are lit. Unlike usual, the master of the house dips the bread in honey and not in salt during the blessing of bread. Then one wishes a "sweet year". The festival is followed by ten days of contemplation and repentance, ending on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Strict rules for sabbatical year controversial in Israel In Israel, the New Year, which is celebrated on Thursday and Friday, marks the beginning of a Sabbatical year. It goes back to the biblical commandment requiring a year of rest for farmland every seven years. Six years of cultivation are followed by a year of fallowing, during which the land is not cultivated – analogous to the Sabbath as a weekly day of rest. Fields, vineyards and olive groves in the Land of Israel must rest during the Sabbatical year.For weeks, there has been heated debate among the Israeli public about the observance of this biblical commandment. The impetus for this was provided by Jossef Shalom Eliashiv, one of the most important rabbis of the ultra-Orthodox Jews. He gave instructions to observe the Sabbatical year in a particularly strict manner. The rabbi took ie with the practice of Israeli farmers selling their land for a period of twelve months to non-Jews, who then cultivate it. Farmers also often leased back the land to continue cultivating it.With this pragmatic regulation, the sabbatical year is desecrated, Eliashiv clarified. The ultra-Orthodox prefer instead to buy agricultural produce, as well as fruits and vegetables, from Arab farmers during this period, or to purchase them from abroad.Liberal religious Jews shake their heads at this directive from the spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox to no longer accept the previous "emergency solution". Eliahu Avraham, a rabbi in a rural community, complains: "The strict interpretation turns us into bean counters and insect inspectors, but the deep meaning of the law is lost." This moderate wing of Judaism also attacks the Chief Rabbinate, which went along with Eliashiv's restrictive recommendations for iing certificates for kosher (pure) foods. More sensitivity to the majority of farmers and Jewish consumers is called for, he said. It is therefore recommended that alternative methods of cultivation be expanded, such as hydroponics or biennial sowings.A recent poll found that 62 percent of Israelis had no idea that a Sabbatical year was coming up. Among the non-religious Israelis, however, there are also groups that uphold ecology. They advocate year-round fallow with reference to environmental protection. More than a few Greens are prepared to restrict themselves to imported vegetables and fruits next year, as the ultra-religious do.Protests come from farmers. The president of the farmers' union, Yusta Bleier, put the loss of income of his colleagues at around 700 million shekels (123 million euros) in the Jerusalem Post. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon threatened sanctions if the ultra-Orthodox rabbis do not relent. Then, he said, he would stop the import of agricultural products.

What means the Ramadan for the Muslims? The holy month of Ramadan, the ninth in the Islamic lunar year, moves through the calendar year and this year will be celebrated from 13. September until 11. October celebrated. It begins when the crescent moon is visible to the naked eye again for the first time after new moon. This can vary from country to country. In Germany, Ramadan begins this year on Thursday at 6 a.m.29 o'clock.During Ramadan, believers are called upon to abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual intercourse from sunrise to sunset. The fast lasts 30 days. The elderly and sick, children, pregnant women and travelers, and soldiers at war are exempt from the fasting requirement. Worldwide there are about one billion Muslims. In Germany live about 3.2 million Muslims. The Central Council of Muslims estimates that in Germany about half of adults participate in fasting.Ramadan is also the month of good deeds and purification of body and soul. Humanity and reconciliation are of great importance. Muslims pay the poor tax Zakat or support the needy.According to tradition, God's revelations to the Prophet Muhammad began in Ramadan. The faithful therefore devote themselves especially to prayer and the study of the Koran. In the evening, they meet with friends and relatives for a joint, often sumptuous meal or gather in the mosques. In many Islamic countries, stores and authorities shorten working hours. Ramadan ends with the feast of breaking the fast. Fasting periods know most religions.

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