Why do I know so little about these holidays?
I promised myself and my generous readers that I would write. So here I sit, researching topics triggered by the calendar–holidays or tremendous significance that I knew almost nothing about. I’m humbled by how much I don’t know and hope you’ll find this informative.
June 15: Eid al-fitr
June 19: Juneteenth
June 20: World Refugee Day
Eid al-fitr is one of the most important holidays in the Muslim world, celebrated by about 1.6 billion people and I knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t even know the proper way to express good wishes to a friend on the occasion. (I googled it and sent a message, but I was nervous I’d gotten it wrong.)
Eid al-fitr is a joyful holiday at the end of Ramadan. Ramadan celebrates the period during which the prophet Mohammed received the teachings of the Quran. During Ramadan people fast during daylight hours. The fasting is intended to cleanse the soul, teach discipline, self-sacrifice and empathy for those less fortunate. At the end of the month, when the new moon appears, Eid-al-fitr is celebrated with family and friends. There is feasting, plenty of sweets and the giving of charity. It’s a holiday with profound values and I am glad to have learned about it. Question: Am I the only ignoramus? What, if anything, did you know about Eid al-fitr?
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th. It originated in 1865 and celebrates the time that many formerly enslaved people actually found out that they’d been freed. The astute reader will notice that this was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation (issued January 1, 1863) and more than two months after the end of the Civil War (April 4, 1865). Thus, officially, freedom should have come for most people much earlier than June 19, 1865. Why did it take so long? First of all, the Emancipation Proclamation applied only to the states that had seceded from the Union. (If I learned that in social studies, I don’t remember!) And word traveled slowly in those days, especially to rural areas. Furthermore, slave owners were not eager to spread the word! Many deliberately didn’t announce it once they knew. On June 19, 1865, a Union general came to Galveston, Texas to insist to a reluctant population that slavery had been abolished.
This has been a holiday largely celebrated by African-Americans. But it’s one that every American should celebrate. Have you ever heard of Juneteenth? Do you think it should be a national holiday?
World Refugee Day. Did you know that June 20th was World Refugee Day? The UN established this commemoration in 2000. “In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees. The theme this year: “Now more than ever we need to stand with refugees.” The commemoration honors the strength and perseverance of millions of displaced people around the world. What else do I need to say?
Gay Pride, Sodom and Zero Tolerance
Finally, I saw this article today and wanted to share it. It’s by Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, “Sodom is Now: Gay Pride and Zero Tolerance
Comparing the administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy for illegal immigrants to God’s retribution against people of Sodom, Lau-Lavie reminds us that God destroyed Sodom because people were haughty and greedy, not because of their sexual behavior. The Sodomites refused to welcome guests or allow strangers in. He cites the prophet Ezekiel and the first century historian Josephus. It was the King James Bible of the 17th century that began attributing the destruction of Sodom to people’s sexual behavior rather than to their inhospitality and selfishness. Re-writing history. Sound familiar?