Sigd: The ancient Ethiopian Jewish holiday

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An Ethiopian Jewish man takes part in a ceremony during the celebrations of the Sigd Festival November 4, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

The Ethiopian Jewish community celebrates Sigd 50 days after Yom Kippur and this year it falls on the night of Nov. 3, 2021.

Ethiopian Jews take part in the celebrations of the Sigd Festival on October 31, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. According to Jewish Ethiopian tradition the Sigd holiday is celebrated annually, marking the biblical union of the Jewish people and God. (Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Sigd means “prostration” in Ge’ez, an ancient Ethiopian liturgical language, and is related to the Aramaic word “sged” (to prostrate oneself). Historically, on Sigd, Jews living in Ethiopia would mark the renewal of the covenant between God and the Jewish people and pray to return to Jerusalem.

Ethiopian Jews pray during the ‘sigd’ holiday on November 16, 2020 in Jerusalem, Israel. Sigd (supplication) is one of the unique holidays of the Ethiopian Jewish community, and has also been recognized as a state holiday in Israel since 2008. (Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Now that a majority of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, the community marks this holiday by gathering at the Western Wall, celebrating the return to their ancestral homeland, and educating all Israelis about Ethiopian Jewish history and culture. 

Ethiopian Jews pray during the ‘sigd’ holiday on November 16, 2020 in Jerusalem, Israel. Sigd (supplication) is one of the unique holidays of the Ethiopian Jewish community, and has also been recognized as a state holiday in Israel since 2008. (Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Avi Wogderas Wassa, an Ethiopian-Israeli musician, explained that Sigd is a day to “stop and [celebrate] a dream that has come true. [Our] ancestors prayed for generations for our return to Jerusalem and we have fulfilled this dream.”

The State of Israel recognized Sigd as a national holiday in 2008. Today in Israel, it is celebrated for the entire month prior to the 29th of Cheshvan, as a time to explore the rich Jewish heritage of Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Jews pray during the ‘sigd’ holiday on November 16, 2020 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

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