Religious holidays start for Jews and Muslims

Jews and Muslims are beginning major religious holidays on the same day. It's the third year in a row that the calendar has thrown up this apparent coincidence.

In Moscow's Jewish Centre people are celebrating Rosh Hashanah – or Jewish New Year.  Jews traditionally gather for prayer and a common feast. The two-day holiday is the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentance.

These are the most solemn days of the religious year, when all Jews should ask for forgiveness from anyone they have wronged.

“Every year we believe that God judges humanity. Therefore we have to correct our ways and make promises to be better in future,” said Aaron Berkovich, Deputy Chief of the Federation of Jewish Communities.


Muslim woman reads the Koran during fasting month of Ramadan

On the same day Ramadan begins – the most important month in the Islamic calendar. Throughout this period believers must pray, study the Koran and fast. Muslims can't eat, drink or smoke from sunrise till sunset.

“This month is the most sacred of the year. Every good deed or prayer is estimated as worth 70 times the value of doing the same thing during the rest of the year,” said Marat Hazrat, the President of the Moscow’s Islamic University.

The fundamental similarities of Judaism and Islam were long ago recognised in both communities .

“We all have the same roots. Islam is founded on the idea of peace. And we think followers of all religions should have respect for each other. People should become firmer in questions of faith. All conflict happens because they don't know enough about each other,” noted Marat Hazrat.

“You see that somewhere there must be one God, because you see a coincidence can happen, and this is a message, I think, to all people, that when we celebrate the right way, we are always going be together,” said Berl Lazar, Principal Russian Rabbi.

For both religions these two holidays have an important spiritual meaning. It is a time to reflect on past accomplishments and consider future goals, a time for prayers and good deeds.