A confluence of faiths: Ramadan, Passover and Easter come together this month sharing unifying message
Ramadan Mubarak. Chag Pesach sameach (happy Passover). Happy Easter.
It's a rare convergence that occurs every 33 years or so when the major religious observances of the world's three Abrahamic faiths align as they have this spring.
Ramadan, Passover and Easter generally don't overlap because they are based on different calendars (lunar and solar) and calculations. But this month, the Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy days coincided just days apart.
The monthlong Ramadan fast began April 2. Passover started Friday evening. And Easter, marking the end of Holy Week, fell on Sunday for most Christians -- or April 24 for the Eastern Orthodox church.
Writing stories about all three traditions, it was clear there are several unifying themes and commonalities in messaging: healing, hope, self reflection and service.
At the beginning of the month, I reported how Muslim communities have stepped up this Ramadan to help care for recently arrived Afghan refugees fleeing chaos in the aftermath of U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. And last week I wrote how Jewish and Christian communities have come together with other faith groups to support Ukrainian refugees displaced by war.
Fighting darkness with light was a common mantra. It shows how, at their core, sacrifice and service to one another are inherent to all three traditions.
To those observing these holidays, salaam, shalom and peace.
Three suburban students were among 300 scholars named in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.
They are: Pratiksha Bhattacharyya, 18, senior at Maine West High School in Des Plaines; Siddharth Tiwari, 16, senior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora; and Jui Khankari, 17, a senior at Hinsdale Central High School.
The contest provides students with a national stage to present original research and recognizes the novel discoveries of young scientists who bring a fresh perspective to global challenges.
Each scholar, selected from 1,804 entrants, receives a $2,000 award, with an additional $2,000 going to their respective schools.
Pratiksha Bhattacharyya's project involved researching the "Molecular Mechanisms of Momordin in the Regulation of Glucose Homeostasis." Simply put, she analyzed the active ingredient momordin in bitter melon juice to determine if it can help with diabetes, as claimed by several natural supplements available at most Indian grocers.
"There wasn't exactly scientific backing" to those claims, said Bhattacharyya of Des Plaines.
Bhattacharyya conducted an in vitro study to see the effects of momordin on liver, muscle and intestinal cells of diabetics and pre-diabetics. After six months, she saw promising results, with a decrease in fasting blood glucose levels, hemoglobin levels and glucose tolerance tests. Bhattacharyya is in the process of publishing her study.
"I wanted to find something that's an aid that is sustainable for a lot of people," she said. "One of my driving factors with this was I wanted to teach my community about diabetes. I want to create a meaningful impact through my research."
Siddharth Tiwari's project focused on the relationship between pain variability and relief in randomized clinical trials. In simple terms, he studied the placebo effect and the efficacy of pain medications using data from two clinical trials.
"Essentially, it was a reevaluation of what has been held as true in this field for the past few decades," said Tiwari of Long Grove.
Tiwari's fascination with the brain and a family history of chronic pain prompted his research. He found no real, consistent or strong relationship between pain variability and placebo response.
"In the future, I'd like to study perception, consciousness and cognitive science," Tiwari said. "My research ... impacts the common person. Pain is the largest medical condition (affecting) most people in the U.S."
Resolution against anti-Semitism
The Cook County Board of Commissioners recently passed a resolution against the rise in anti-Semitic hate and in support of the county's Jewish population.
Illinois saw a 350% increase in anti-Semitic incidents between 2016 and 2020, according to the Anti-Defamation League's annual audit. There's been a surge of anti-Jewish incidents nationwide, including in Highland Park and Glenview in March.
Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton reported receiving a package of fliers containing anti-Semitic messages at his Glenview home. Throughout March, similar packages containing rocks, beans, or rice were found in Cook County residents' front yards and in public parks in Niles, Park Ridge, Glenview, Skokie, and Arlington Heights.
Britton, who represents the 14th District, is partnering with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Action Ridge and Niles Coalition for a Spring of Action against anti-Semitic hate. Events include a rally at 5:30 p.m. April 24, at Gallery Park in Glenview; a May 15 teach-in in Niles; and a June 12 celebration at the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy will speak Monday with students at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville about youth mental health.
- Associated Press
Youth mental health
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Naperville and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy will discuss youth mental health Monday with students at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville.
Murthy will speak at the school from 9 to 10 a.m. about how the U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on Protecting Youth Mental Health addresses the challenges faced by young people.
Students will share their experiences with mental health, the advocacy work they have done in their school and community to improve resources, and insights into what the government and communities can do to better support struggling youth.
Among Illinois young adults ages 18-25, the annual average percentages of those with serious mental illness and those with serious thoughts of suicide increased between 2008-2010 and 2017-2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24.
Stephen Smith, an international speaker and oral historian, will present this year's Holocaust Lecture at Elmhurst University on April 24.
Smith is executive director emeritus of the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation, the archive founded by filmmaker Steven Spielberg to document the Holocaust and genocide, and to develop empathy, understanding and respect through testimony.
A theologian, Smith is the USC visiting professor of religion, where he researches genocide-related testimony. He also founded the U.K. Holocaust Centre in England, and cofounded the Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Holocaust Service of Remembrance and Lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in the Frick Center, Founders Lounge, 190 Prospect Ave., Elmhurst.
The lecture is part of the university's Religious Literacy Project.
Admission is free but reservations are encouraged at elmhurst.edu/cultural.
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