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Tri-Faith Intiative: Upcoming Jewish, Christian and Muslim Holidays

A remarkable project is taking place in Omaha, Nebraska. Jewish, Christian and Muslim members of local congregations have landed and are planning a joint campus which will house a temple, a church, and a mosque, plus a shared facility on a large campus. Members of these three Abrahamic congregations - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - are committed to promoting mutual respect and upholding the right to proclaim one's own religion and serve God in his / her own way. Our vision is to build bridges of respect, acceptance and trust, to challenge stereotypes, to learn from each other and to the county of fear and misunderstanding.

Israel is dedicated its new building in the fall of 2013, and members of the Christian and Muslim communities are currently moving forward with plans for the church and mosque.

For more information about Tri -Faith, please visit our website at www.trifaith.org or like our Facebook page at Tri-Faith Initiative.

In December 2014 and January 2015, major observances include Hanukkah (Jewish), Christmas (Christian), and Milad un Nabi (Muslim). While Christian holidays follow the Gregorian calendar (the international standard for civil purposes and day-to-day activities), the Jewish and Muslim holidays follow their own calendars to determine the proper days to celebrate religious holidays or observances.

The Islamic calendar, also called the Muslim calendar, is based on the lunar year that varies between 354 or 355 days and consists of 12 months. The Jewish calendar, also called the Hebrew calendar, is a Lunisolar calendar and has anywhere from 353 to 385 days, also consisting of 12 months, or sometimes 13 months in a leap year.

December 17-24: Hanukkah

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which means "dedication" in Hebrew, commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks and re- Dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. While the Syrian-Greeks controlled and occupied the Temple it was used for the worship of foreign gods and practices. In order to purify the Temple, Jewish soldiers determined they would need to burn ritual oil in a menorah for eight days. However, there was only enough oil to burn the menorah for one day. In wonder, the lit menorah lasted the full eight days.

The miracle of the Hanukkah oil is a part of the tradition, and to celebrate, Jews light a special menorah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first night of the holiday, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles have been lit. Another manifestation of the miracle oil is the tradition of eating fried foods. (See the recipe for potato latkes at the end of the article.) Traditionally, Hanukkah is one of the least important Jewish holidays, but has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to the Christian Holiday of Christmas. Hanukkah has also become much more festive and Christmas-like-children receive a gift each night of the celebration.

December 25: Christmas

Of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity and the foundation of its teachings. Christians hold Jesus to be the Son of God and the story of his birth is known as the Nativity.

Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was born to a virgin mother, Mary. When he came from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in the census along with her husband Joseph, Mary gave birth to Jesus and, as it was in the room at the inn, he was born and laid in a manger. Angels proclaim that he is the savior for all people and shepherds spread the good news across the land.

January 3: Milad a Nabi

The Muslim holiday of Milad a Nabi is a celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Muslims regard the Prophet Muhammad to be the last prophet sent by God to mankind. Muhammad was to restore mankind to the original faith of all the prophets of Islam, preaching the belief and spreading the word of the one, true God.

Born in Mecca in 570 AD, Muhammad means "highly praised." After being orphaned at the age of six, Muhammad was raised by his uncle as a shepherd. It was not until his 40s, during a visit to the cave that he frequented solitude and contemplation, that he received a visit from the angel Gabriel and began his life as a prophet.

Milad un Nabi is a public Holiday in most Muslim countries, and is celebrated in different manners in different countries. The most common celebratory occurrence is a carnival-like atmosphere that includes large street processions, and decorated homes and mosques. Gifts and food are distributed to the poor.

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Recipe for Traditional Hanukkah Latkas

Fried food is traditionally eaten on Hanukkah in commemoration of the oil that miraculously burned For eight days. Fried Potato Pancakes (called Latkes in Yiddish and Levivot in Hebrew) are the hands-down favorite holiday in Jewish homes.

5 potatoes 2 onions 3 eggs 1 tsp. Salt ¼ tsp. Pepper between ¼ to ¾ cup all purpose flour

1. Peel potatoes. Place in a bowl of cold water so they will not turn brown.

2. When ready to prepare the latkas, drain the potatoes. Place potatoes and onions in a food processor fitted with a knife blade. Pulse until smooth. Drain mixture well.

3. Pour potato mixture into a large bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper. Add enough flour so the mixture holds together.

4. Pour 1 inch of oil into a large, deep frying pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

6. Flatten the pancake slightly so the center will cook.

7. Fry for several minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.

8. Drain on paper towels.

Serving Suggestion: Serves with applesauce.

Yields: approximately 20 pancakes.

  • Adam Floyd