By Town Supervisor George Hoehmann
This April there are three important holidays converging that encourage many of us to pause and reflect, making this a uniquely introspective time. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, three of the major world religions, not only mark significant Holy Days this month, but also share a common ancestor: Abraham. It’s remarkable how much these outwardly very different religions share and hold in common, with Abraham playing the central, unifying figure.
As the biblical story goes, Abraham lived at a time when the world was dominated by those who believed in many gods, or polytheism. Upon receiving divine revelation, Abraham found faith and belief in just one god. Abraham, who was fatherless, was promised that if he believed and was faithful to one God he would have descendants as numerous as the stars of the nighttime sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Abraham became devout in his faith despite many trials and God’s promise of progeny was fulfilled with two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Each respective son is seen as the forbearer of the Muslim (Ishmael) and Jewish (Isaac) faiths. Christians revere Abraham for his stoic and steadfast faith, being viewed as the father of their faith through the heritage of Isaac. According to most current estimates (2021), there are just over 2 billion people of Muslim faith in the world, 2.38 billion Christians and 15.2 million people of Jewish faith. Collectively well over half of the world’s 7.75 billion population trace their religious identity to Abraham. So a great deal is held in common among these traditions not the least of which is Abraham.
Thus, this month all three of these religions share Holy Days that call for reflection, contemplation and hopefully renewal. Christians this week commemorate Holy Week which focuses upon the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Several days this week will focus on the biblical stories surrounding Jesus’ life and death culminating in the resurrection. Christians are called to reflect, pray and fast to be prepared for the spiritual renewal that Easter brings. Likewise, this week Judaism will celebrate Passover, a time when Jews recount the story of how Moses through the power of God led enslaved Jews out of Egypt and on the journey to the Promised Land. It is also a time to reflect, contemplate, sacrifice and seek renewal. Finally, this month Muslims marks the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is marked by fasting, reflection, prayer and a call for charity, which is called Zakat. Ramadan began on April 2nd and concludes with the breaking of the month long fast on May 2nd, a day called Eid al Fitr. It is believed that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammed during this time.
Indeed this is a unique time on the calendar when people representing more than half the world’s population are called to pray, reflect and sacrifice. The COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine and many other issues have grabbed hold of our attention. My thought and prayer for our community is that this indeed will be a time for reflection, contemplation and renewal for all of us, regardless of which religious tradition you may or may not be a part of. May this be a time for renewal for each and every one! So Happy Easter, Blessed and Joyous Passover and a meaningful Ramadan to all who celebrate as children of the father we share in Abraham.