Sigd Day, November 22, 2022: History, Significance and facts
This year the Jewish festival Sigd Day is on November 22. The vibrant Ethiopian celebration takes place on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan which is usually in late October or November every year. In Israel Sigd day can be an official state holiday.
Though Hanukkah is more popular as one of the most significant Jewish holidays, Sigd Day celebrations hold significance in the Jewish culture too.
Sigd Day has been celebrated for centuries. It celebrates the identity and diversity of the Jews and the Jewish experience.
Not only that but the holiday highlights the experience of the minority community living in Ethiopia since the time of King Solomon.
SIGD DAY: HISTORY
- According to legend, when Ethiopia was under the reign of biblical King Solomon the Jews came to Ethiopia.
- The people as they settled, started to identify with Jewish traditions and practices even though they were alienated from other Jews.
- While the time was passing the Jews in Ethiopia also started developing their own cultural and religious practices so that their faith might survive. Since, after this passed millennia the people had lost Hebrew and Shabbat only existed in some form. There was no Hanukkah or Purim.
- The Ethiopian Jews composed and read the “Torah” in Ge’ez which a holy language in Ethiopia.
- The spiritual leaders were known as Kesim
- The celebration of Sigd helped Jewish traditions burn with the hope of survival.
HOW SIGD IS CELEBRATED
- Sigd Day comes after 50 days from Yom Kippur.
- As a tradition as old as thousands of years, the Ethiopian Jews spend the day repenting and making amends with those whom they have wronged.
- People also fast and pray for their journey and safe return to Jerusalem.
- During the afternoons the community gathers and they feast and dance.
- In the 20th century the Ethiopian Jews could finally see their desires being fulfilled when the Israeli government airlifted thousands of Ethiopians to Israel.
- The day of Sigd attained a new significance as the celebration of the return to Israel.
- The present-day Sigd Day festivities feature colorful Ethiopian festivals where Jews from all backgrounds take part.
- They attend concerts,theater performances and a vibrant display of Jewish heritage and diversity.
SIGD DAY TIMELINE
970B.C. — 931 B.C.
King Solomon asked God for wisdom instead of power or riches.
501 A.D. — 600 A.D.
Ethiopian Jews decided to go separate ways after the war between Jews and Christians broke out during the reign of King Gebre Mesqel of Axum.
The Israeli government airlifted and resettled 90,000 Ethiopians in Israel.
The Israeli Government recognized Sigd Day as a state holiday.
SIGD DAY ACTIVITIES
There are many things you can do to know about the Jewish culture more deeply
- You can understand the culture and history of Ethiopian Jews. You can find several books and online videos.
- You can try Ethiopian cuisine
like delicious Ethiopian stews with Injera (sourdough flatbread).
- You can discover Ethiopian music as
Ethiopian Jews have rich and ancient musical traditions.
FACTS ABOUT THE “TORAH” YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Jewish families read the whole “Torah”, every year, a section per week.
- It takes one year to write the “Torah”.
The scribes have to write 304,805 letters in the “Torah,” in a similar way to the time of Moses.
- The “Torah” comprises a lot of writing laws and on making the tiniest mistake you need to burn an entire scroll and start over.
- Some sacred writing materials are used for writing, like parchment sheets and pens which are made from kosher animals.
- The weight of “Torah” is around 11 kgs or 25 pounds, and it can only be lifted by a chosen few in the synagogues.
You can Understand a lot about the Jewish diversity and community by knowing of the
Celebrations and festivities of Sigd Day which broadens everyone’s understanding of the Jewish community. It’s the best opportunity to explore Ethiopian Jewish culture.You learn that one faith or religious beliefs can have multiple perspectives but a common faith unites everyone.