In September, Jews celebrated their New Year of 5765 with the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I know very little about the Jewish religion, but I had heard of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. My Jewish friends explained to me the importance of a ten-day period from the eve of Rosh Hashanah through the day of Yom Kippur. This marks the "ten days of repentance" in Jewish tradition.
Yom Kippur encourages Jews to examine themselves, to assume responsibility for their transgressions and for the task of self-improvement. Given my cultural background, this concept is entirely new to me.
I was born a Muslim and raised in the 1950's in Cairo, Egypt and in the Gaza strip. A moderate form of Islam was prevalent in those days. But destructive forces loomed large in other aspects of Arab society -- in particular, shame and pride. Arab culture, not Islam, taught me to hate.
In 1978, I moved to the United States, bringing the usual baggage and prejudice from a Middle East upbringing: fear of Jews, of government, of speaking my own mind. I had lived through the '56, '67, and '73 wars with Israel, which left me with deep skepticism of authority. A new and pleasant life in America soon opened my mind -- and allowed me to look objectively at myself and my culture of origin.
Read the entire article on the Front Page Magazine website.