Happy Nw Year / l'Shanah Tovah to all from Vleeptron
This year the lunar calendars have collided Eid ul-Fitr with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It's the Islamic year 1430, and now it's the Jewish year 5770.
If anyone's somewhere where there are lots of Jews and lots of Muslims, Leave A Comment about the color, flavor, taste, smells and sounds of the two simultaneous holy festivals. That wouldn't be a quirk or abberation. Jews and Muslims are neighbors all over North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey -- lots of places.
Maybe in these places they do what we do on Planet Vleeptron -- Jews give a shoutout of Eid Mubarak to their Muslim neighbors, and in return Muslims wish their Jewish neighbors l'Shana Tovah -- a Good Year.
Fancier: L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu = May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for a good year.
Arabic and Hebrew are first-cousin semitic languages. Hebrew-speakers and Arabic speakers can eavesdrop on one another's radio and television newscasts, enough to grok the big words and place names. Salam and Shalom are Peace/Paix/Paz/Pace. Almost every big Hebrew Bible name has a close variant in Arabic, Abraham/Ibrahim, and so forth.
And how you choose to spell any of this stuff in the Roman alphabet is pretty much up to you, whatever sounds right to your ear.
In quite recent times thre've been some unexpected episodes of cooperation.
The British government took it upon itself to consider banning the slaughtering of cattle by both kosher and halal methods, and a coalition of kosher butchers and halal butchers responded so loudly and effectively that the British government abandoned the ill-considered plan. The accusation was that halal and kosher slaughtering subject animals to unecessary cruelty; both kinds of butchers vehemently deny this, and eloquently argued that kosher and halal slaughtering are humane and traditionally respectful to animal welfare.
(Things, like food, prohibited under Islamic law, are called haraam, and food prohibited to Jews is called trayfe.)
In the United States, a coalition of Jewish and Muslim leaders leaned on the commercial food processing industry to stop using a pig-based biproduct as a ubiquitous lubricant, and substitute a synthetic lubricant instead.
I hope that after these successful campaigns, everybody went across the street for coffee and halvah and chat, to see what other common concerns they could solve together. That's how we do things on Vleeptron, anyway.
When coffee first became popular as a beverage in the Arabian peninsula, and began spreading through the Islamic world, Islamic theologians spent a few centuries debating whether the Quran permitted or banned the tasty stuff.
Interestingly enough, the debate was less about the stimulating effects of the beverage, and focused largely on the kinds of joints where coffee was served, and the kinds of activities perceived to take place in coffee houses, which have always been regarded as suspicious sorts of gathering places.
Anyway, coffee was eventually declared okay for Muslims to drink, and Muslims cooked up some really spectacular and nasty local styles of coffee, which became equally popular in Mitteleuropa -- Viennese coffee, a leftover recipe from the unsuccessful Turkish seige of Vienna.
On my first trip to Amsterdam -- this was before the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel -- I blundered into Middle East Street, and wandered into what I mistook for an Israeli restaurant. I chatted with the proprietor, who turned out to be Egyptian. (Israeli street food is essentially Arabic street food.)
He pointed across the street to restaurants and shops with Hebrew signs in their windows.
"We don't all love each other," the Egyptian guy said. "But we all came here because our kids don't have to murder each other every dozen years."
There are about 28 mosques (pronounced locally "muhs-KAY") in Amsterdam, and the Mayor is a Jew named Cohen.
Oh, that shofar thing is a ram's horn, and it's the unique sound of Rosh Hashanah ("Head of the Year"), and of the holy day that follows next week, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
Send me a private e-mail and I'll tell you a very old and very vulgar shofar joke.
An aside ... Bevis Marks, in London, is the oldest synagogue (a Greek word, like tons of other words in the Jewish religious vocabulary) in the UK. According to Wikipedia, a committee of Sephardic (Spanish, Portuguese and North African) Jews "on February 12, 1699, signed a contract with Joseph Avis, a Quaker, for the construction of a building to cost £2,750. Avis would later decline to collect his fee, on the ground that it was wrong to profit from building a house of God."