On the Holiday of Sigd, Ethiopian Jews Remember Generations Past, and Yearn for Future Redemption

Nov. 23 2022

Today, the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Ḥeshvan, is the Ethiopian Jewish festival of Sigd, which Israel made into a national holiday in 2008. Shula Mola explains its significance, and her own associations with the day:

I have a powerful memory of my last Sigd in Ethiopia in November 1983. Sigd is a holiday of the Ethiopian Jewish community which takes place 50 days after Yom Kippur each year. Sigd celebrates our connection to Jerusalem; the entire village would go up the nearby mountain—men, women, and children—dressed in our best festive clothes for a day of fasting and prayer. The Kessoch, our religious leaders, read verses from the Torah and prayed for a return to Zion.

I remember many other things from that Sigd. For example, I can still see a woman sitting to the side and scattering grains of wheat on the ground while lamenting in a whisper and crying. At that time I did not really understand what she was doing. Today I know that it was part of the observance of Sigd. On this day we also prayed for the release of the souls of the dead, sprinkling grains of wheat or teff flour for birds to eat so they would fly our prayers to heaven. The holiday of Sigd is not only a gathering of the living, but also a day to remember and be reunited with those that have passed.

The heart of Sigd is in the renewal of the covenants between a person and God, a person and the community, and a person and society.

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Read more at Jewish Book Council

More about: Ethiopian Jews, Jerusalem, Jewish holidays

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship