Teaching About the Jewish High Holy Days
and Islam’s Ramadan in September and October

September and October 2008 mark the time for major religious holidays that directly involve many Jewish and Muslim students in our schools. Faculty and students absences may occur, especially on the first or last day of a multi-day holiday.

Sundown of September 29 is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and sundown of October 8 marks the beginning of Yom Kippur.

Ramadan in North America is predicted to begin at sundown on September 2 and will end with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr on October 01, 2008. During Ramadan, Muslim students or faculty may have challenges in participating in strenuous activities or events involving food.

The following information, provided by the California Three Rs Project, is designed as an overview for educators.

Jewish Holidays

Jewish holidays and observances, with the exception of some fasts, begin on the evening previous to the first day. Many require special additional prayers and services that are held in the Synagogue. Jewish Holidays with Sabbath-like restrictions, such as those listed below, require that all normal business, school or secular activities cease about two hours before sundown on the eve of the Holiday to allow for adequate preparations.

Rosh Hashanah
By western calendar the 2008 Rosh Hashanah marks New Year's Day in the year 5769 on the Jewish calendar, and the anniversary of the creation of the world. On the 2008 American calendar, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown September 29. This is the first of the Ten Days of Awe (or Repentance.) Reform Jews celebrate the holiday for one day. All other Jews celebrate for two.

Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is the holiest day of the Jewish year and is a day of fasting. To re-establish oneness with God, Jews ask forgiveness and forgive others. Then they can confess their sins and ask God's forgiveness. On the American calendar for 2008, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on October 8.
For more information about these important Jewish holidays, the following websites are recommended.

Judaism 101: Jewish Holidays

Jewish Calendar

Muslim Holidays

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast. Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. They are to make peace with those who have wronged them, strengthen ties with family and friends, and do away with bad habits. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words. On the American calendar, Ramadan fasting begins on September 2, 2008.

Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking)
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world have a three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking). It is a time to give charity to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy. On the American calendar, Eid al-Fitr is scheduled to take place from October 1, 2008.
For more information about this important Muslim holiday, the following websites are recommended.

Ramadan & Eid al-Fit