It happens once every 33 years…
Two important holidays are being observed beginning tonight for both the Jews and Muslims – Yom Kippur and Eid Al-Adha.
Both holidays center around sacrifice – that's what they have in common.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, where we remember that the High Priest of the Jews, went once a year into the Holy of Holies with a sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel.
The day is a 24 hour full fast, with the overwhelming amount of Jewish Israelis observing a day of introspection, believing that their fates for the coming year are sealed this day.
Eid al-Adha is the Muslim observance of commemorating Abraham's willingness to offer his first born son, Ishmael, according to Islamic believe.
Sheep, goats, and even cows occasionally are slaughtered for the celebration, with family and friends.
One third of the meat is to be donated to the needy.
It is also a time of gift exchange where many people are seen wearing new clothes during the four days of festivity.
It also brings to a close the annual Haij pilgrimage period to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Police have been gearing up for possible friction in places like Jerusalem, Akko, Jaffa, Haifa and other places of mixed religious concentrations.
The Old City is the focal point where many faithful will be present, and at the time of posting this – all is fine. But complicating matters is the fact that Jewish settlers have just moved into 25 homes in dubious circumstances just outside the city walls in the predominately Muslim neighborhood of Silwan. This is a problem going forward – long past the holidays.
For me, having been here over twenty years, it is not the first time something like this has happened, not is it the first time important holidays for both faiths have coincided.
Other holidays have coincided before, and there have not been no conflicts… The tricky part is that the central places of worship are in such close proximity, and now we have this delicate situation on top of that with the settlers taking action at this sensitive time.
But like everyday life, where people interact with others of different persuasions for mutually shared interests without incident – it is possible (and desired by most) for people to come together for the common and peaceful observance of religious holidays.
That's the positive message for this – the holiest day in Judaism falling upon one of the most significant Muslim Holidays in the calendar.
Middle East Correspondent