The Ethiopian Sigd Celebrates Jerusalem
The Ethiopian Jews who returned to Israel brought with them the holiday of Sigd. Find out more about this holiday where the Jewish community of Ethiopia remember the importance of Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal, unified capital…
Illustrative Photo By האגודה הישראלית למען יהודי אתיופיה [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
The Sigd Festival, 29th Heshvan
Article Courtesy: The Jewish Agency
The Ethiopian Sigd Festival falls on 29th Cheshvan, and is a festival unique to this community and has now been designated by the Knesset as an official holiday for Beta Yisrael, the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel.
Significance: The letters s-g-d are the same as in “Mesgid”, one of two Ethiopian Jewish terms for prostration/worship and dedication/Temple, a clear indication of its association with Jerusalem and its centrality in Jewish life and ritual.
The month of Cheshvan is known as “Chadar” and includes other special dates, such as 1 Chadar, when Moses saw G-d’s face and 10 Chadar, when he received the Jewish People on his descent from Heaven. Whereas Shavuot, 48 days after Pesach [22 Nisan in their calendar] is celebrated as a harvest festival, the Sigd is their celebration of the Giving of the Law. The Jewish community in Ethiopia would make a special pilgrimage to the nearest highest mountain, for example, near Ambover village, as they could not observe the precept of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and there would be prayers and blessings by the Kesim (priests and learned elders), followed by a festive meal.
In Israel today, thousands of Ethiopian Jews make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem each year, beginning with a gathering on the Talpiot Promenade which affords a view of Jewish holy sites – the Old City and the Temple Mount.
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