Sigd, Amharic for prostration or worship, is the name of an ancient Ethiopian Jewish holiday held yearly on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, 50 days after Yom Kippur. It is the day according to Ethiopian Jewish tradition that God first revealed himself to Moses. Today was Sigd in a very tense Jerusalem.
Above: file photo
Sigd, Amharic for prostration or worship, is the name of an ancient Ethiopian Jewish holiday held yearly on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, 50 days after Yom Kippur.
It is the day according to Ethiopian Jewish tradition that God first revealed himself to Moses.
It is now also used to commemorate modern-day Ethiopian Jewish aliyah to Israel.
Historically, Ethiopian Jews would fast and go together to the top of a mountain where their kessim (priests) would read from the Orit (the Ethiopian version of most of Tanakh, written in Geez, and anciet Ethiopian liturgical language), including the Book of Nechemia, which tells of the return of the ancient Israelites to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian exile. On mountain tops while fasting, the entire Ethiopian Jewish community prayed to be able to return to Jerusalem. In the later afternoon they would return to their villages, dance, and hold a festive break fast meal similar to a Passover seder.
Today is Sigd, and the Times of Israel reports:
…[S]everal thousand people gathered Thursday for Sigd, the Ethiopian holiday marking their receiving of the Torah and immigration to Israel.
The main celebration was held Thursday along the stone paths and green lawns of Jerusalem’s Haas Promenade, part of a contiguous public park connecting the neighborhoods of Abu Tor and Jabel Mukaber and overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City and the Dead Sea.
There are those who believe that Abraham was shown Mount Moriah from this spot, which is one of the reasons the Ethiopian Jewish community gathers there each year.
By 11:30 in the morning, most of the adults in the crowd — grandmothers draped in white; rabbis, or kesim, as they are known in Amharic, also in white and shielded from the hot November sun with red satin-and-fringed parasols; and scores of Ethiopian Israelis and other Israelis — were in place, listening to the prayers and blessings of the kesim, and then the greetings from Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and President Reuven Rivlin.
The real action was happening below the promenade, on the long stretch of grass that overlooks the park’s olive groves.
Several organizations, including the Bnei Akiva youth movement; Insera, a center for Ethiopian Jewish Culture; and Fidel, the Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, had set up tents on the lawn, inviting the younger participants to hear and see examples of Ethiopian culture.
Amara Betue, a counselor at Yemin Orde, works with Ethiopian-Israeli youth to connect to their culture (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
Amara Betue, a counselor at Yemin Orde, who works with Ethiopian-Israeli youth to connect to their culture (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
“If [the kids] are born here, they’re not tied to Ethiopian culture,” said Amara Betue, a counselor at Yemin Orde, a youth village for teens at risk, including 150 teenagers with Ethiopian backgrounds. “We take these kids, and make them connect to it. I have them tell me about their families, their parents, their stories. It’s their Ethiopian education.”
It’s not always easy, said Betue. He pointed to one group of teenagers sitting nearby, one with her hair dyed red, the others wearing so-called ghetto trucker hats, more familiar from the streets of New York than the Jerusalem Tayelet.
“They don’t always know which culture is theirs,” he said. “On a day like this, we may get them interested, but it’s not a given.”…
Read it all here.