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    Rosh HaShanah & non-Jews – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. If Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of Creation, why don’t we encourage non-Jews to keep it?

    A. I have often wondered about this. Christians at least could have a version of Rosh HaShanah since it is a Biblical ordinance. Their calendar acknowledges the influence of Jewish feasts such as Pesach, Shavu’ot and Sukkot, so why not Rosh HaShanah?

    I think the answer is hinted at in the magnificent sentence that is so important to us as Jews: “Our God and God of our fathers, reign in Your glory over the whole universe”.

    In the Midrash (Gen. R. 61:6), we read, “If I bless Isaac, the children of Ishmael and K’turah who are also my children will be included in the blessing: and if I do not bless the children of Ishmael and K’turah, how can I bless Isaac?”

    This is Judaism: we pray that God may bless the whole world even though (or precisely because) the other peoples and faiths will be included. Judaism respects the identity and conscience of other groups without needing to force Jewish beliefs and practices upon them.

    Maybe this principle is too difficult for others. Yet Maimonides insists that we accord respect to Christianity and Islam because, though they are in error, they help to bring the world to the One God.

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