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3 Religious Holidays Overlapped This Weekend in a Rare 30-Year Occurrence

Pope Francis, dressed in white, stands in the middle between Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove and Iman Khalid Latif, Executive Director of the Islamic Center at the 9/11 Memorial And Museum In Lower Manhattan. Cosgrove and Latif clap as they glance at each other, with Pope Francis looking straightforward.
For the first time in 33 years, Ramadan, Passover, and Easter — celebrated by Muslims, Jewish people, and Christians respectively — are overlapping this weekend.
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This weekend brings a confluence of holy days for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, all honoring reflection and renewal.

Ramadan started earlier this month and continues through the beginning of May. Meanwhile the first night of Passover begins tonight — on the same day as Good Friday, with Easter on Sunday.

Faith leaders associated with the Interreligious Council of Southern California see it as an opportunity to connect with one another.

Rev. John Edward Cager III, of Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church, says all three faiths share a common ancestor and worship the same god.

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“God wants us to be able to respect the individuality of our belief systems, along with respecting the humanity and the love in each of us,” he said.

He views Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as a holiday that reinforces the need to overcome divisiveness with love.

Tasneem Noor of the Islamic Center of Southern California does a lot of interfaith work, and says that the Quran is filled with stories of Moses, Jesus, and other figures from the Old and New Testament.

“So it feels really meaningful that the stories that I'm reading in the Quran this month in particular, are also the stories that my friends and members of the Jewish and Christian community are also reflecting upon.”

She reflects on a past tradition in her friend’s community where Jewish people would give flour to their Muslim neighbors during Passover. In return, the neighbors would prepare a meal with that flour after Passover was done.

It’s this communal interaction that lends itself to the grander ethos of Ramadan.

“There's so much war and trauma and suffering all around us,” Noor said. “I think Ramadan is the time to pause, breathe, reflect, replenish, and to really nourish our capacity to keep showing up as people of faith, as people more committed to doing good.”

Rabbi Sarah Hronsky of Temple Beth Hillelsays her counterparts of other faiths have all been wishing each other blessings in this season.

“And you can feel real camaraderie, joy, and unity in purpose. And looking at each other in the face and knowing we're all celebrating, and there's joy in that. But it's also a holy and sacred time.”

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She’ll be celebrating Passover, which commemorates Hebrews being freed from slavery in Egypt. This sentiment of freedom from oppression also extends itself to connecting with other communities that have recently faced the same strife.

“So hopefully we take that message of what was history for us and look at how it applies in today's society, whether that be with refugees, immigrants, whether we think about the Ukrainian people in this season and lift them up at our tables.”

This year she will be placing sunflowers on her Seder tables to represent the Ukrainian people and potato peels to empathize with those who are food-insecure.

This overlapping of holy days — which are connected to three different calendars — only happens about every 30 years.

No matter how rare the occurrence, however, Rev. Cager believes this time should be taken advantage of.

“We allow human-made concepts to create divisions, and people to create enmity between people, when that's not the purpose of creation,” Cager said.

“We can get along in harmony, we can get along in peace, and most of all, we can all prosper together if we are authentic to our faith.”

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Corrected April 15, 2022 at 2:04 PM PDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Rev. Cager's last name as Kager