The holy month of Ramadan starts today – a time of fasting, humility and reflection for the world’s Muslims.In Gaza, Palestinians were making last-minute preparations for the first feasts to follow sundown. But last month’s Israeli withdrawal from the territory means this year’s occasion promises to have an altogether different feeling. One Palestinian man said it was the best Ramadan he could remember, because the the Israeli army is gone. But Palestinians are not the only ones reflecting on recent upheavals. A rare anomaly in this year’s religious calendar means the start of Ramadan coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year festival. For Jewish people around the world and in Jerusalem, it is not just a celebration, but also a time of judgement, balancing good deeds against bad and considering what the new year will bring. Like Ramadan, food plays a central role over the two-day Jewish New Year. Both traditions also call for acts of generosity. The two traditions converge just once every thirty-three years. Amid the ongoing violence in this troubled region, it could provide a rare moment in which Palestinians and Israelis will reflect on their situation together.
Religious observation gives adversaries pause for thought