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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
28 September 2012
Bradley H. Kerr

Jewish worshippers pray at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem’s Old City on 13 September, ahead of the Jewish new year. (photo:CNS photo/Baz Ratner, Reuters)

This week, Pope Benedict offered his “heartfelt best wishes” to the Jewish community on the occasion of three important holidays — Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. So what are these holidays, exactly? Here are five things you should know:

  1. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. Just as Catholics have a special religious calendar, so do Jews — and it begins with Rosh Hashanah. The holiday is celebrated over two days with prayer services where a horn called a shofar is blown 100 times. There are also family meals with symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey. This year, Rosh Hashanah started on the evening of 16 September.
  2. Speaking of the Jewish New Year, it’s now 5773, according to the Jewish calendar. Tradition holds that year 1 began about a year before Creation. The first day of year 1 is equivalent to 7 October 3761 B.C.
  3. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. This is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It is marked by 24 hours of fasting and repentance — no food, no drink, no nothing. Before Yom Kippur, you are supposed to seek forgiveness for your sins against God and other people. This year, the holiday started on the evening of 25 September.
  4. Sukkot is the Feast of the Tabernacles, which are a kind of hut covered in leaves. These huts are meant to bring to mind the fragile dwellings in which the Israelites lived during the 40 years in the desert. The feast lasts for seven or eight days, and holiday meals are eaten inside of the sukkot. Sometimes, very devout Jews sleep inside them, too. This year, Sukkot starts on Sunday, 30 September.
  5. “Chag sameach” is how you can greet your Jewish friends during Sukkot. It means “joyous festival” in Hebrew, and it actually works for just about any holiday.

By the way, why I am telling you this? Because CNEWA works on behalf of the Holy Father to promote understanding and friendship between all who worship the one God — Christians, Muslims and Jews. That is a very fundamental part of our mission. Chag sameach!

Tags: Ecumenism Jews

28 September 2012
Melodie Gabriel

September has been a busy month for CNEWA Canada. On 5 September, the premiere of Salt + Light Television’s newest documentary Across the Divide took place in Canada’s largest city, Toronto — after premieres in Vancouver and Halifax in June. The Canada-wide tour has been an exciting partnership for CNEWA Canada with Salt + Light, Canada’s Catholic television network.

Together, we have collaborated to tell a unique story of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.

Shot on location in the Holy Land, Across the Divide offers a glimmer of hope for the divided region by telling the heroic stories of staff and students at Bethlehem University, a CNEWA-supported institution.

It was a joy to be present at this event in my hometown, Toronto, along with the national director for CNEWA Canada, Carl Hétu, and over 350 others. You can see an article on the event in Canada’s Catholic Register newspaper.

On 19 September, the film premiered in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city and home of CNEWA Canada’s office. The screening was attended by our staff and over 250 people. To put on this wonderful event, I had the pleasure of working behind-the-scenes with Salt + Light’s team and an awesome group of young adult volunteers from the Ottawa area.

Each film premiere began with a cocktail reception and concluded with a special question-and-answer panel discussion. The panel included Carl Hétu, along with Cardinal Thomas Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, and Terrence Prendergast, the Archbishop of Ottawa. Both archbishops are members of CNEWA Canada’s Board of Directors. See the video below for highlights from both events.

To support the efforts of Bethlehem University, visit our website.

Tags: Middle East CNEWA Canada Bethlehem University

28 September 2012
Greg Kandra

A little girl plays in the village of Horpyn in Ukraine. Read about the ethnic and religious patchwork of the region in this article from the March 2009 issue of ONE. (photo: Petro Didula)

Tags: Ukraine Russia Crimea

28 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Smoke rises from buildings after a Syrian fighter jet launched missiles in Aleppo, Syria, on 4 September. (photo: CNS/Youssef Boudlal, Reuters)

In Syria: “The atmosphere is very tense” (Fides) “The atmosphere is very tense,” explained Fr. Jules Baghdassarians, Greek-Catholic priest in Aleppo and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Syria, as opposition forces announced the beginning of the “final battle in Aleppo.” Fr. Baghdassarians said: “This morning armed rebel groups entered the neighborhood of Sheik Maqsoud, in Aleppo, home to many Kurds and Christians and there is intense fighting. In our Christian area in Suleimanye I counted 18 loud explosions. Groups of rebels entered in other Christian areas such as Jabrie and therefore life for the civilian population, in the crossfire, is in serious danger.”

Indian authorities say offensive scenes in Bollywood movie will be cut (Fides) The scenes considered “blasphemous” concerning people and symbols of the Christian faith in the Bollywood film “Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal” will be eliminated before the movie is released in cinemas, according to the “Censor Board.”

Coptic Christians flee Sinai (Associated Press) Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in a town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, fearing for their lives after receiving death threats from suspected Islamic militants, a local priest said Thursday. Father Youssef Sobhi said that Islamic militants dropped leaflets on the doorsteps of shops owned by Copts in the city of Rafah near the border with Gaza and Israel, ordering them to leave town within 48 hours and making an implicit warning of violence if they failed to do so. Two days later, masked militants on a motorcycle opened fire on one of the shops before speeding off, Sobhi said. No one was hurt in the shooting.

Patriarch Kirill defends ties to Kremlin (Reuters) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church on Friday rejected criticism of his increasingly strong relationship with President Vladimir Putin, saying that close ties between the church and state were good for society.

Christian-Muslim meeting in Istanbul this weekend (Vatican Radio) A two-day symposium on Muslim-Christian dialogue takes place in the Turkish capital of Istanbul this weekend, exploring the theme of “Being a foreigner and dialogue with the other.”

Tags: Jerusalem Unity Health Care Multiculturalism

27 September 2012
Greg Kandra

A Benedictine priest — in Rome recently for a gathering of monastic communities — spoke with Catholic News Service and suggested that one important lesson may lie in how to pray.

Check out the CNS video below:

Tags: Unity Muslim Interreligious Christian-Muslim relations Prayers/Hymns/Saints

27 September 2012
Greg Kandra

CNEWA’s Msgr. John Kozar was in Canada earlier this week for the meeting of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and he sat down for an interview with the Salt + Light TV network. He talked about his experience being in Lebanon for the papal visit, and shared some of his own thoughts about the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

His interview begins at the 5:30 mark below.

Tags: Lebanon CNEWA Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Canada

27 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Asela orphanage alumnus Matheas Hussein studies music at Addis Ababa University. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

Four years ago, ONE took a look at a remarkable school in Ethiopia that cares for hundreds of orphaned boys with special needs and gives them training that can help transform their lives:

Asela’s orphanage school owes a good deal of its recent success to Father Renato Saudelli, I.M.C., who was appointed its director in 1991. An ardent advocate for sustainable development, Father Saudelli has integrated vocational skills training with the school’s academic curriculum so every student has a better chance at succeeding once they enter the work force.

Father Saudelli’s legacy, however, has been his work with the fine arts and music programs at the school. Thanks to his tireless efforts, these programs have thrived in recent years.

An artist himself, the Italian-born priest threw his weight behind the school’s art program the moment he assumed leadership responsibilities. With honest effort, patience, individual attention and, of course, the best available art materials, Father Saudelli believes all children can discover the joy of, as well as their unique talent for, creating art. For this reason, he encourages the disabled children to take advantage of the art program. Artistic expression using one’s hands, he believes, can help instill a sense of pride, particularly in those who may be physically handicapped in other ways.

The school’s music program, which Father Saudelli vigorously supports in tandem with the fine arts program, has also come into its own under the priest’s direction. A growing number of alumni have chosen to pursue careers in music, and many more have found inspiration through their musical training. …

A prospective graduate of the Yared Music School at Addis Ababa University, Matheas Hussein plays part-time in a local band, Harlem Jazz, which enjoys some celebrity in Addis Ababa. After graduating from the Consolata Fathers’ school, Mr. Hussein was recruited by a private college. His passion for music, however, led him to the Yared Music School. He persistently applied for admission, never losing hope. Finally, after three years, he was accepted to the program.

Read more on Revealing Hidden Talent.

Tags: Ethiopia Education

27 September 2012
Greg Kandra

A damaged building is seen after heavy shelling in Aleppo, Syria, on 26 September.
(photo: CNS/Reuters)

Saving the lives of Syria’s refugees (Washington Post) If you need a measure of how desperate Syria’s refugees are, contemplate this: Many are fleeing to Iraq. It’s astonishing that Iraq, once the refugee equivalent of the Titanic, has become a lifeboat. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (U.N.H.C.R.) reports that there are 15,096 Syrian refugees in Iraq, and that they are among 100,000 Syrians who have fled to Jordan, Turkey, and beyond since Bashar al-Assad’s regime began fighting with opponents in March 2011. Who are these refugees? Children and families make up a huge number. At Jordan’s Za’atri refugee camp, according to a U.N.H.C.R. spokesperson, children accounted for 60 percent of new arrivals in one week. Syrian troops recently killed a 6-year-old boy fleeing to Jordan.

Jordan’s King warns against attempts to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim, Christian identity (Jordan Times) His Majesty King Abdullah warned against attempts to erase the Arab, Muslim, or Christian identity of Jerusalem or invade Al Aqsa Mosque. Delivering an address at the plenary session of the 67th U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the king urged the international community to send a clear message that any such transgressions will not be tolerated. “We are extremely concerned by threats to Jerusalem and the sanctity of its Muslim and Christian holy sites,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech.

Coptic, Islamic scholars agree on new Egyptian constitution (Fides) Representatives of Egyptian political parties, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church met at the Shura Council of Parliament to resolve disputes over eight articles in the new constitution. In particular, the participants agreed to keep Article Two as it was in the 1971 Constitution, which states: “Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is its official language and the principles of Islamic Shari’a are a main source legislation.”

Church leaders blast Indian film as blasphemous (Fides) The Bollywood film “Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal” (”Laugh, be happy”), to be released tomorrow, 28 September, “is blasphemous, an offense against Christian faith and the faithful’s feelings.” For this reason, Father Domic D’Abrio, spokesman for the Catholic Episcopal Conference of India, told Fides, “the Indian bishops are offended and saddened by the failure to report the competent bodies in charge of controlling films destined for the general public. … They deplore the producers’ irresponsible behavior [and ask civil authorities] to ensure full respect for the symbols and content of the Christian faith in India.”

Ethiopians celebrate Demera procession (ENA via Ethiopsorts) Demera, the bonfire traditionally burnt on eve of the Finding of the True Cross (Meskel) upon which Jesus Christ was crucified, was celebrated on Wednesday throughout the country. In the capital, the day was celebrated in the presence of tens of thousands of residents of the Addis Ababa City, members of the diplomatic community and foreign tourists, as well as senior government officials. Deacons, priests and students of Sunday schools garbed in white, traditional clothing played religious songs and hymns that added color to the holiday.

Muslim prayer room welcomed at Canadian Catholic school (Catholic Register) Concerns that the establishment of a prayer room, requested by Muslim students, at a London, Ontario, Catholic high school will water down the school’s Catholic faith are just plain wrong, says the school board’s education director. “First of all, it’s a prayer room; it’s not named after a particular faith,” said Wilma de Rond, director of education for the London District Catholic School Board (L.D.C.S.B.). “When a request comes from another faith there is no request for us to provide any sort of accommodation for them that in some way impacts our faith.”

Russian Patriarch calls for victory in sports (Voice of Russia Radio) Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, met with Russia’s best athletes on Wednesday. “A victory in sports is a real feat,” His Holiness said. “Among other components, a victory in sports has a strong spiritual component.”

Tags: Egypt Refugees Syrian Civil War Jordan Christian-Muslim relations

26 September 2012
Greg Kandra

In this image from 9 September, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, celebrates the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (photo: CNS/David Lipnowski)

Yesterday, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church spoke to Canada’s bishops, and had some harsh words about the threat from secularism in the West.

From Catholic News Service:

“The current economic crisis is merely the symptom of a much deeper spiritual and cultural crisis,” Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told the annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on 25 September. “As Western society rejects old moral structures and values, it finds that its moral GPS has no fixed and stationary points of reference.”

Archbishop Shevchuk said the church must find “new courage” to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to contemporary society to provide “an anchor and compass.”

”We live in societies where virtue and goodness are frequently a veneer for religious intolerance, personal gratification and moral decay,” he said. “Secularism would like us to be closed in a little box of Sunday worship.”

The former Soviet Union used that approach to religion, he said.

”Separation of church and state has become separation of faith values from society, yet our mission is to preach the word of God to all and to be a constant sign of God’s loving presence through social ministry,” he said.

Read more.

Tags: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Canada Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk

26 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Altar servers assist a liturgy at the Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Lviv. (photo: Petro Didula)

In the September issue of ONE, read how Armenians are practicing their faith in western Ukraine in the story Restoring Faith.

Tags: Ukraine Eastern Christianity Armenian Apostolic Church

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