"Ramadan is a month of mercy and a month of charity," said Arif
Shaikh, spokesman for the center. "It's something where people are
extremely charitable, and are really working on themselves to become
Though the Islamic Relief Center in Burbank -- the headquarters
for Islamic Relief in the United States -- is just a simple office
building, inside, some 25 employees there pray five times a day and
will be fasting from dawn until dusk, without any food or water, for
the next 30 days, Shaikh said.
"The fasting and the charity that's conducted are just the
measures you apply to yourself to be a better human being at the end
of the month," said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the
Muslim Public Affairs Council. "It celebrates the human mind and how
we are able to control ourselves."
Ramadan, which is celebrated in the ninth month of the lunar
calendar, calls for the practice of all five pillars of Islam --
testifying one's faith, praying five times a day, fasting, giving
charity and Hajj, which is a pilgrimage every Muslim must make at
least once in their lifetime to Mecca, the first house of worship,
This Ramadan will be especially busy for the Burbank Islamic
Relief Center, because the center will be providing food programs for
the needy, collecting money and organizing gifts for Islamic relief
organizations throughout the world. It will also be upping its
efforts fundraise for Hurricane Katrina victims, Shaikh said.
"We believe all good deeds done during Ramadan are rewarded," he
In Glendale, nearly 300 Jews attended a three-hour morning service
Tuesday at the Temple Sinai for Rosh Hashanah.
"It's one of the most sacred Jewish holidays," said Judith Harris,
who attended the three-hour service. "It's a very important holiday
and I'm a very spiritual, religious person, and the holidays are
important to me."
Tuesday morning's service was followed by a luncheon.
"It's supposed to be a sweet new year," said Florence Coutin, a
board member of the Temple Sinai sisterhood, adding that the luncheon
featured apples with honey and apple cake to further emphasize the
hope of a sweet year to come. "And the services were wonderful. We
had a lot of people participate, young and old ."
Congregants at the Temple Sinai represented just a small group of
the millions of Jews around the world who rang in the new year Monday
"It's really a holiday of introspection," said Rabbi Simcha
Backman, of the Chabad Jewish Center of Glendale. "Although we look
at the past year to learn from it, our focus is on the coming year --
how we can change to make it a more fruitful, positive year, to make
it a peaceful year."