In an unusual convergence of liturgical calendars, Jews and Muslims will enter their holiest periods of the year within a day of each other. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year that begins a 10-day period of High Holy Days culminating with Yom Kippur, begins at sundown Wednesday. The Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins Thursday.
The two holy periods are rarely so close, because the beginning of Ramadan rotates throughout the year in accordance with the lunar calendar of Islam. Jews follow a modified lunar calendar that adds periodic leap months so festivals fall within several weeks of each other in specific seasons.
If the calendars often separate their observances, there are similarities in practices. Followers of both faiths will engage in periods of fasting, repentance and self-reflection. And these days are an opportunity for both Jewish and Muslim families to grow closer together in faith.