This is to announce the third annual "Day of Abraham" commemoration sponsored by the Brattleboro Area Clergy Association. The committee planning this commemoration has decided to make the focus a little different this year, in part because of a most interesting challenge to congregations of all faiths from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Jewish Renewal Movement and labeled "the October Surprise." Rabbi Waskow writes:
“At just the moment of history when religious conflicts have reemerged bearing lethal dangers for each other and our planet, God has given our spiritual and religious traditions a gift of time. During October 2005, a rare confluence of sacred moments in many different traditions invites us to eat together, walk together, learn together, pray alongside each other, listen to each other, and work together for peace, justice, human rights, and the healing of our wounded earth.”
Waskow then notes that the sacred Jewish lunar month of Tishrei, which includes the High Holidays, and the sacred Muslim lunar month of Ramadan both begin this year on October 3-4. October 4 also is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi for Catholics and October 2 is Worldwide Communion Sunday for Protestants. Going yet further, October 4 marks the beginning of Navarathri for Hindus, October 2 is Gandhi’s birthday, and this season also coincides with the Buddhist Vassa season.
Honoring this confluence and recognizing this period of religious crisis in the world, Waskow and friends in the Tikkun Community have called upon all faith communities to observe a Nationwide Fast for Reflection, Repentance, Reconciliation and Renewal during October and to break that fast together.
Our "Day of Abraham" committee has decided to seize upon this idea and mold it in a way which might work well for our community. Our primary organizing principle is unity and the idea of a family reunion – that Christians, Jews and Muslims have common roots stemming from Abraham, and that like branches of a family, we may not know as much about one another as we would like. What we envisage is the following:
- Clergy, religious educators and youth group leaders in each congregation would devote some period of time during October to focus together with older congregational youth on this sacred season of our different religious communities and on the diversity-related challenges facing our world today, and would organize some period of fasting for the youth – something from the skipping of one meal up to fasting for an entire day. (For Jewish and Islamic youth, this would logically be part of Yom Kippur and Ramadan commemorations.)
- Then, regardless of the time or period we fast, we would come together on Friday evening October 21 at 5:00 – youth and their families - to "break the fast" symbolically with a potluck vegetarian plus fish supper (respecting the dietary laws of some of our communities.)
- The evening will include Ramadan and Sabbath prayers which normally would be offered at that time by Muslims and Jews.
- The meal will be a combined potluck and provided dinner, with the main course provided. We ask that participants bring a vegetarian type salad and/or a desert to share. In addition, we invite participants to bring their own plates, flatware and drinking mug for this meal so that clean up afterwards will be minimized.
- The evening also will include a discussion together of the meaning of our respective sacred seasons, and of the concepts of fasting and atonement in our different traditions.
- Finally the evening will include a discussion of some of the diversity challenges that we face internationally, nationally and within our own community. We hope to have with us "Abraham’s Vision," a group of young Christian, Jewish and Muslim women who have been leading such discussions with youth in various parts of the country.
Our larger hope and purpose is that this be a celebration of friendship, faith and unity, and that it help bring our youth, and the rest of us, closer together at this difficult and challenging time in the world.
Schedule on October 21st at All Souls:
5:00 In-Gathering with Words of Welcome
5:30 Introductions and explanation of the evening
Explanation of the sacred seasons and the meaning of fasting in each of our traditions
5:59 Call to Prayer and Initial breaking of the fast with bites of food in the Muslim Ramadan tradition, followed by Sabbath prayer and lighting of Sabbath candles
6:15 Vegetarian/fish potluck supper
6:45 - 8:00 Facilitated presentation and discussion of international, national and local diversity challenges.
Javed Chaudhri, Barbro Hansson, Jim Levinson and Lise Sparrow
BACA Day of Abraham Planning Group
Rev. Barbro Hansson, Minister
All Souls Church Unitarian Universalist