Israel Works To Ensure Peaceful Overlap of Jewish and Christian Holidays

September 11, 2013

2 min read

Yom Kippur

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalms 34:15)

Yom Kippur
Israeli authorities have been coordinating between the Jewish and Christian communities to ensure both groups can peacefully observe Yom Kippur and the Feast of the Cross respectively. The two holidays overlap this year for the first time since 1948. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

For the first time since Israel’s inception in 1948, the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the Christian holiday of the Feast of the Cross will overlap this year when the sun sets on Friday. Due to the sensitive nature of both festivals, authorities in Haifa, an Israeli town with a largely multi-religious population, have begun coordinating with both Christian and Jewish authorities in the area to ensure both can observe without disturbing the other, according to The Times of Israel.

The main obstacle appears to be lie in the nature of the two holidays. Yom Kippur is a serious day for Jews, marked by day-long prayers and fasting the Feast of the Cross is usually celebrated with parades, carnivals and even fireworks. The fear of the two conflicting natures of the days has authorities working hard to cut off any potential problems before they can arise.

Authorities said they were concerned that religious Jews would be offended by the Christian festivities. “The big fear is that religious Jews will interpret the joy of Christian Arabs celebrating in the wrong way, and a riot will begin,” a police representative told the Maariv newspaper.

The Feast of the Cross celebrates the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the year 335 and is celebrated every September 13 by the Eastern Orthodox. Yom Kippur, which Jews mark as the Day of Atonement, will begin at sundown on September 13, and end at nightfall the next day.

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