Time for a “new” Jewish vacation
I do know that you haven’t been conserving rely, so I’ve been doing it for you.
A number of days in the past, was the 29th day of Cheshvan, which occurs to be precisely fifty days after Yom Kippur.
You’ll forgive yourselves for not understanding this. Most Jews don’t.
However, the 29th of Cheshvan is a Jewish vacation – the pageant of Sigd, an Ethiopian Jewish pageant.
“Sigd” means “prostration” in Ge’ez, an historic Ethiopian liturgical language. Since 2008, Sigd has been acknowledged as a state vacation in Israel.
So, what’s the story with Sigd?
On one stage, it’s a pageant in regards to the accepting of the Torah.
Each other stage, it’s a day of craving for the land of Israel and the traditional Temple.
An Ethiopian Jew named Shula Mola remembers:
I’ve a strong reminiscence of my final Sigd in Ethiopia in November 1983. Sigd celebrates our connection to Jerusalem; your entire village would go up the close by mountain—males, ladies, and youngsters—wearing our greatest festive garments for a day of fasting and prayer. The Kessoch, our spiritual leaders, learn verses from the Torah and prayed for a return to Zion.
On one other stage, the day is a communal day of reminiscence of the useless — yizkor.
As soon as once more, Shula Mola speaks:
On at the present time we additionally prayed for the discharge of the souls of the useless, sprinkling grains of wheat for birds to eat so they’d fly our prayers to heaven. The vacation of Sigd will not be solely a gathering of the residing, but in addition a day to recollect and be reunited with people who have handed.
And on one other stage, it’s about one thing deeper. In line with Ethiopian Jewish custom, Sigd is the day on which God first revealed himself to Moses.
Why ought to American Jews – all American Jews, of all races — be taking note of this vacation?
First, it testifies to the variety of the Jewish individuals.
As soon as upon a time, we referred to as Ethiopian Jews “falashas” — landless individuals, strangers. Ethiopian Jews hate that time period. They vastly favor Beta Yisrael, “the home of Israel.”
What are the origins of the Ethiopian Jews? Take your choose of explanations.
One legend says that the tribe started out of the intimate encounter between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. One other opinion is that they’re descended from the traditional tribe of Dan.
However, no matter their origins, their Judaism is idiosyncratic. It originated and developed at a time earlier than the rabbinic interval, and due to this fact, their customs are each historic and, from the viewpoint of Jews who comply with the customs of the traditional rabbis, uncommon.
Then got here the Nineteen Eighties. Within the midst of the civil battle in Ethiopia, the state of Israel rescued the Jews of Ethiopia in Operation Moses, and introduced them to Israel.
The poet Danny Adamsu, within the tune “Memory, How A lot Power Has the Spirit,” described the journey from Ethiopia to the land of Israel:
No proper, no left. Straight. Simply north. Strolling and strolling, marching brotherhood.
Districts, villages, and households.
There are not any days, solely nights
Eat a little, robust spirit
We’re strolling, the water is gone, and the meals is gone.
Desert, the earth is sizzling, determined to reach.
The Jews of Ethiopian have struggled in Israel. It has not often been straightforward. As we speak, they’re a significant cultural drive. Such figures as Idan Raichel, Avior Malasa, and Hagit Yaso, have made Ethiopian Jewish music into some of the widespread streams in Israeli tradition.
So, to say Sigd is to increase the circle of Jewish reminiscence, and to enlarge our image of who we’re as a individuals.
That brings me to the second motive for mentioning this seemingly obscure vacation. It’s to bear witness to the mandatory range – not solely of world Jewry – however of American Jewry as nicely.
That is what we realized from the 2021 Pew study. 92% of Jewish American adults determine as non-Hispanic White, whereas 8% determine with different racial or ethnic classes. Amongst Jews ages 18 to 29, nevertheless, the proportion who determine as a race or ethnicity aside from non-Hispanic White rises to fifteen%.
17% of Jews reside in households by which at the least one little one or grownup is Black, Hispanic, Asian, another non-White race or ethnicity, or multiracial.
And but, a number of years in the past, in a earlier congregation, I had an encounter with a spiritual faculty scholar of blended race. He got here to me with a textbook that we utilized in spiritual faculty. He opened the e-book, and he began flipping by means of its pages, pointing to the illustrations of Jews and Jewish household life.
His query haunted me. “You understand, Rabbi, once I look by means of these books, I’ve a query. Why don’t I see anybody who appears like me?”
He was proper.
However, there’s a third motive why Sigd is essential. It’s as a result of it’s a vacation that’s in contrast to the rest within the Jewish calendar.
Undergo that calendar.
- Rosh Ha Shanah: the creation of humanity.
- Yom Kippur: we, as a individuals, confess our sins.
- Sukkot: we, as a individuals, wandered within the wilderness.
- Hanukkah: we, as a individuals, fought again towards the Syrian Greeks.
- Purim: we, as a individuals, fought again towards the Persians.
- Pesach: we, as a individuals, left Egypt. Shavuot: we, as a individuals, stood at Sinai.
Contemplate, as nicely, the trendy spring holidays: Yom Ha Shoah: we, as a individuals, confront our destruction. Yom Ha Atzmaut: we, as a individuals, declared our sovereignty within the land of Israel.
What do you discover? Each vacation is in regards to the Jewish collective. It’s the story of what we do as a individuals.
However, Sigd is about one thing else. It’s about Moses’ private encounter with God on the burning bush.
It was a solitary encounter with God, in the midst of the wilderness – at a spot that will be the placement of the occasion at Sinai, the place your entire individuals would meet God.
Sigd provides one thing to the Jewish palate: the concept that whereas our communal expertise of God is central to our story, we want our particular person encounters with God, as nicely.
Judaism is a religion of a individuals. However, it is usually the religion of individuals, of people, of one thing taking place inside our particular person neshamas (souls).
It took Sigd to remind us of that, and maybe that’s the reason we’d add it to our communal calendar. In order that we keep in mind that all of us stood at Sinai — not solely as a individuals, however as people looking for God.
For that motive, I’m grateful that there’s the vacation of Sigd.
I consider that each one Jews, and all of Judaism, can be enriched if it had been to discover a everlasting place on our calendar.