Official ceremony honoring Ethiopian Jews in Celebration of Sig’d

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President Shimon Peres will open the celebration of Sig’d in an official ceremony this morning at his residence in Jerusalem.

Celebrated 50 days after Yom Kippur, on the 29th of Heshvan, Sig’d represents the yearning of the Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) for Jerusalem. In Ethiopia, the community commemorated Sig’d as a day of fasting, culminating in a procession led by the Kessim (Spiritual leaders) to chosen place on a hilltop to lead the community in prayer, remembering Moses’ ascent to Mount Sinai. There they would ask forgiveness for their sins and receive the blessing of the Kessim that they may realize their dream of reaching Jerusalem.

Celebration of the holiday in Israel commemorates the community’s Ethiopian history and tradition, continuing and enhancing its importance to the community. The holiday did not receive official recognition as a national holiday in Israel until August 2008. President Shimon Peres, in recognition of the unique heritage and contribution to Israeli culture of the Israeli Ethiopian community has sought to empower the community and increase national awareness of its traditions and cultural richness, embracing the holiday of Sig’d with two weeks of events, culminating in the traditional ceremony on Jerusalem’s Sherover Promenade on November 16th.

Sig’d Events:

Monday, November 2 at 17:30
Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi, 12 Abarbanel Street, Jerusalem
Study session: Sig’d, its traditions, history, Biblical sources, liturgy and customs of its celebration in Ethiopia and new meanings acquired through its celebration in Israel.

Wednesday, November 11 at 20:00
Beit Avi Chai, 44 King George Street, Jerusalem
A taste of Ethiopian cuisine and three short plays, followed by a presentation of Ethiopian culture in folklore and proverbs, ending in a musical performance of Aya Korem and Matan Dagfa in Hebrew and Amharic.

Monday, November 16 at 10:00
Sherover Promenade, Armon HaNatziv, Jerusalem
Official Sig’d Ceremony with Kessim presiding and leading the community in prayer
In addition to the ceremony, tents of learning will be set up along the promenade to present the holiday and its customs

Monday, November 16 at 17:00
Congress Center (Binyanei HaUma) Jerusalem
Closing Ceremonies which will include: an exhibit of Ethiopian artists, an official welcome to new immigrants from Ethiopia, presentation of activities of social action groups within the community, performances and screening of films, with greetings from the Prime Minister, government ministers and community representatives.

For further information contact the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews: www.iaej.co.il

Image credit: Sig’d celebrations in Jerusalem/Photo: Avi Masfin