Sometimes it takes a coincidence to spark a good idea.
That's why a group of Jews and Muslims gathered Friday evening at the Ann Arbor home of Aaron and Aura Ahuvia to pray, break bread and learn about what their faiths have in common.
The coincidence was the starting dates this year of one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah (or the Jewish New Year), and Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and spiritual reflection. Ramadan started on Sept. 13. The celebration of Rosh Hashanah started on Sept. 12, followed by Yom Kippur Sept. 22.
"We wanted to jointly have something together since it's the peak spiritual season for both our faiths,” said Dawud Walid of Detroit, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, who attended the gathering.
A similar gathering took place last year, he said.
Both groups offered prayers Friday, and Muslims at the gathering broke the fast they had been keeping since before sunrise.
"I think I want to be where people are making a bridge between different communities,” said Odile Hugonot-Haber of Ann Arbor, another participant at the gathering. “We have more in common than we have apart.''
Tammam Alwan, a Michigan State University student who grew up in West Bloomfield, said getting together to discuss the similarities between the two religions would "further understanding between two very important faiths in (America).”
While political conflict between Jews and Muslims in the Mideast may be a backdrop to Jewish-Muslim relations in this country, the focus Friday was on the spiritual commonalties. In particular, the group planned to focus on the story of Moses and the Jewish captivity in Egypt, Walid said.
"Moses is the most mentioned prophet in the Koran,” he said. (MORE)