Ethiopian Holiday


The article, “Israelis Mark Ethiopian Holiday” (Lens, Nov. 23) contained several errors and a partial and inaccurate explanation of the holiday, known as Sigd.

The holiday has a number of themes, but the most outstanding is that it recalls the Renewal of the Covenant by Ezra, Nehemiah and the returnees to Jerusalem at the time of the first return from exile in the 6th century, BCE. Reading this story from Chapter 9 of Nehemiah is the centerpiece of the ceremony. Around this central focus, the attendees recall also the first covenant on Sinai (Chapters 19-20 in Exodus are read), repent of their sins and, in Ethiopia, prayed for a return to Zion, whereas here in Israel these same prayers relate to praying for the well-being of Jerusalem and its beauty.

The North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (Israel branch) has operated the teaching tent at the celebration since 2006. Each year, the collection of prayer texts gathered and taught has been expanded.  For the past three years, Ziva Mekonnen Degu, director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jewry, has been an active partner in gathering the prayers, with the intention of helping the traditional religious leaders, the Qessotch, to publish a prayer book for the day of Sigd. This year, for the first time, Mekonnen was the able teaching assistant in the tent. However, the tent is the NACOEJ tent and it is that banner that has hung from the tent for each of these years.

We look forward to having both of our banners displayed in the future.

Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews