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May 2021

Eid al-Fitr begins at sundown

May 12

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the "Festival of Fast-Breaking." On the day of Eid, fasting is prohibited. The end of Ramadan is generally celebrated by a ceremonial fast-breaking, as well as the performance of the Eid prayer in an open, outdoor area or mosque.

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Shavuot begins at sundown

May 16

Shavuot is the celebration of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people, also known as the Festival of First Fruits. The Torah was given by the Lord on Mount Sinai on Shavuot more than 3,300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot, Jews renew their acceptance of the gift, and the Lord “re-gives” the Torah. The giving of the Torah was a far-reaching spiritual event — one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for…

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July 2021

Tisha B’Av starts at sundown

July 17

An important fast day commemorating the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and 70 CE. It is the culmination of the Three Weeks, an annual mourning period that falls in the summer. Jews mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and their launch into a still-ongoing exile. Tisha B’Av, or 9th of Av, is the date the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and the Second Temple by the…

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Tisha B’Av begins at sundown

July 18

An important fast day commemoratingthe destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and 70 CE. It isthe culmination of the Three Weeks, an annual mourning period that falls in thesummer. Jews mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and their launch into astill-ongoing exile. Tisha B’Av, or 9th of Av, is thedate the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC by the Babylonian kingNebuchadnezzar and the Second Temple by the Roman emperor Titus in 70 AD.…

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Eid al-Adha begins at sundown

July 19

At the end of the annualpilgrimage, Muslims celebrate the "Festival of Sacrifice." Itincludes a ritual sacrifice of a sheep, camel, or goat, to honor thewillingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God'scommand.

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August 2021

Al-Hijra, the Muslim New Year, begins at sundown

August 9

Al-Hijra: Muslim New Years DayAl-Hijra, the first day of themonth of Muharram, marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. Muhammed’s popularity was seen asthreatening by the people in power in Mecca, and so Muhammad took his followerson a journey from Mecca to Medina in 622. This journey is called the Hijrah(migration) and the event was seen as so important for Islam that 622 is theyear in which the Islamic calendar begins.

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September 2021

Rosh Hashana begins at sundown

September 6

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, takes place at the beginning of the month of Tishrei, which is actually the seventh month of the Jewish year (counting from Nisan in the spring). It is both a time of rejoicing and of serious introspection, a time to celebrate the completion of another year while also taking stock of one’s life.

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Yom Kippur begins at sundown

September 15

Yom Kippur is the holiest day ofthe year, when we are closest to the Lord and to the essence of our souls. YomKippur means “Day of Atonement,” as the verse states, “because on this dayatonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you willbe clean from all your sins.” (Leviticus 16:30)For nearly 26 hours, believers“afflict their souls.” They abstain from food and drink, do not wash or applylotions or creams, do not wear leather footwear,…

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Sukkot begins at sundown

September 20

A celebration of the fall harvest that begins five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot is named after the booths or huts (sukkot in Hebrew) in which Jews are supposed to dwell during this week-long celebration. According to rabbinic tradition, these flimsy structures represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of  wandering in the desert after escaping from slavery in Egypt. Much of the imagery and ritual of the holiday revolves around rejoicing and thanking God…

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Simchat Torah begins at sundown

September 27

Simchat Torah is a joyful feast that marks the end of the old Torah reading cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. All the synagogue's Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and are carried around the sanctuary in a series of seven hakafot (circuits). Although each hakafa need only encompass one circuit around the synagogue, the dancing and singing with the Torah often continues much longer and may overflow from the synagogue onto the streets.

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October 2021

Mawlid an-Nabi begins at sundown

October 18

Mawlid al-Nabim, celebrated on the 12th of Rabiulawal, marks the birth of Muhammad in A.D. 570. The holy day is celebrated in different ways by different Islamic sects. Mohammed (ca. 570–632) is considered by Muslims to be the prophet and messenger of Allah. Mohammed was raised an orphan in Mecca. As a young man he was a caravan manager in his native city and felt that charity and kindness were lacking in his society. Though reports suggest he had a knack…

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November 2021

Chanukah begins at sundown

November 28

Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day,wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting,special prayers and fried foods.In the second century BCE, the HolyLand was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the peopleof Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of mitzvah observance andbelief in the Lord. Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armedJews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth,drove the Greeks from the land,…

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“Before all, and above all, attention shall be paid to the care of the sick, so that they shall be served as if they were Christ Himself.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict