Sigd - A sign of social and personal vaccination

The Sigd holiday enables Ethiopian Jews to do communal introspection, become stronger, unite and to dream of a better future: a mutual and spiritual future in Jerusalem.

Sigd 2020 ceremony
For many generations, the Ethiopian Jews have dreamed of returning to Jerusalem, touching its stones, inhaling the mountain air, walking through its ancient and unique streets and praying there. We even managed to imagine the first time we would encounter the temple, while we still thought it was standing - until we arrived in Zion, and were greatly disappointed to discover that it had been destroyed.
The Sigd holiday enables Ethiopian Jews to do communal introspection, become stronger, unite and dream of a better future: a mutual and spiritual future in Jerusalem.
Despite the sadness over the destruction, and the amazement they felt, the Ethiopian immigrants to Israel were able to realize their long standing dream of seeing Jerusalem with their own eyes. And the dream, after a long, terrifying, painful and arduous journey, has become a reality that surpasses all imagination.
A vaccine is needed for social correction to cure Israeli and world society. What is a person's value if we are socially injured? As it is said: "if the mind is healthy, the body is healthy."
The values of Sigd can be a bridge and an opportunity for the Israeli society for social and personal correction while creating unity.
As a young girl in Ethiopia, I remember the excitement I felt with every fiber of my being whenever we spoke about Jerusalem, the respect we felt for it and the strong spiritual feeling we had – especially on the Sigd holiday, the greatest traditional, social and communal event.
Every year, about 50 days after Yom Kippur, just like at Mount Sinai and the covenant between the children of Israel and God, the whole family would ascend a mountain. United and together, we would pray, bow down and ask God to return us to the Land of Israel, with prayers like it's described in the Return to Zion section in the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The prayers and songs were led by the Keses, the high priests of Ethiopian Jews. I remember the beautiful white clothes and the two days of coming to the mountain by Ambuber, one of the important villages of Beta Israel in Ethiopia until their immigration to Israel.
ETHIOPIAN JEWS believed that in order to be worthy to return to the Land of Israel, it was not enough to fast on Yom Kippur, which was a personal correction for the individual, but also 50 days later a communal introspection on Sigd as described above. At the end of the day we would celebrate its good among most of the people and rejoice in the majesty of the king.
Investigation into the meaning of the name of the Sigd holiday reveals deeps secrets and clues in the letters that make up the Sigd.
The value of the letters in gematria is 77. The number 70 signifies the 70 years of exile in Babylon before returning to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. The number 7 signifies the 7 weeks that are counted from Yom Kippur until the Sigd day, exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur.
This year for the first time, due to the coronavirus, there will be no communal gathering at Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv's neighborhood signifying the Sigd holiday. Indeed, the status and the spiritual and social gathering will be missed by us all, with this opportunity to introspect into our society, and to adopt for at least one day the essence of the Sigd; to be unified together and to learn the values of the holy day.
To my delight, in the last decade, many bodies as well as the formal and informal education system have been teaching and making Sigd Day accessible to a variety of populations. One of the tasks of the Fidel Association was to pass on to future generations the values of the Sigd, and the heritage and culture of Ethiopian Jews to the whole of Israeli society.
Today, in my role as a community shlicha (emissary), it is important to me that not only Israeli society learns and recognizes Sigd Day, but also the Jews of the Diaspora, and in particular that the Jewish community in Columbus, Ohio, will know and recognize Sigd Day as part of the character of the Jewish people and Israeli society.
Sigd Day is relevant and significant to the Jews of the world because it has a social motive. A combination of unique traditions of smaller groups is a central part of the diversity of the Jewish people. A significant connection to the Jewish value of longing for Jerusalem is still a significant component for Jews living in the world.
The author is the senior community shlichah in Columbus, Ohio, and a former CEO of the Fidel Association, which assists in the integration of Ethiopian Jews into Israeli society.