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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Israel Series at HebrewPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Israeli holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 21, Sigd, a Holiday of the Beta Israel Community.
Sigd - סיגד (sigd) is the holiday of the Beta Israel, or the Jewish Ethiopian community in Israel. The name of the holiday, Sigd, is derived from the word segida, or “worship”. The holiday is a day of fasting - צום (tzom), purity - טוהר (tohar) and rejuvenation - התחדשות (hitchadshut), and it occurs on the Hebrew calendar date of the 29th of Cheshvan -חשוון , fifty days after Yom Kippur.
On Sigd, the Beta Israel community celebrates the restoration of the covenant between the nation and God.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
Originally, Sigd prayers were conducted on a tall mountain. Can you guess why?
If you don't already know, keep listening! The answer will be revealed at the end of this lesson!
At the heart of the Sigd holiday lies the covenant between God, the Torah, and the Jewish people. In Ethiopia, the community would conduct communal soul-searching so that they would be worthy of going to Jerusalem. Preparations for the holiday included fasting and purification, and during the holiday itself, members of the community climbed a tall mountain and read from the Torah. The descent from the mountain would be accompanied by a festive procession led by the keisis- קייסים—the priests of the community. At the end of the holiday, they would hold a festive meal, sing, dance - ריקודים (rikudim), and exchange gifts.
In 2008, the Knesset ratified the Sigd Holiday Bill. This law confirms that Sigd is no longer solely an Ethiopian Jewish holiday, but rather a holiday celebrated by the entire State of Israel. It is designated on the official calendar - לוח השנה הרשמי (luach hashana harishmi), the roots of the holiday and its customs are taught in schools, and every year, a state ceremony is held to mark the holiday.
Today, the holiday is observed in Israel at a central prayer event held at the Jerusalem Promenade - טיילת ירושלים (tayelet Jerusalaym), with thousands of participants. The Keisis are the focal point of the event. They stand on a raised stage, and read out prayers to the participants. In the evening, a state celebration is held. Elected officials and ministers participate in the event, and Ethiopian artists, singers, and athletes perform. Other cities in Israel celebrate Ethiopian culture with musical performances - הופעות (hofa’ot) and art exhibitions featuring Ethiopian artists.
Participants in the Sigd prayers have the custom of wearing white clothes. The Keisis stand out in the crowd thanks to the colorful robes they wear, and the colorful umbrellas they carry.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Why were Sigd prayers conducted on a tall mountain?
The roots of the Sigd holiday are in the revelation at Mount Sinai - הר סיני (har sinai), where the covenant - ברית (brith) between God and the People of Israel was made. The prayer ceremony symbolizes the restoration of this covenant, and it is held at a mountain symbolizing Mount Sinai. During the ceremony, Keisis recite chapters recounting the revelation at Mount Sinai.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting? What covenant is especially important to you?
Leave a comment letting us know at HebrewPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson!


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Monday at 06:30 PM
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What covenant is especially important to you?

Thursday at 11:40 PM
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So glad you liked my comment and am always happy when I can actually write a sentence that is understandable and without errors.

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Thursday at 08:57 PM
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Hi Shelley,

Thanks for sharing! Glad you found it interesting

And - your sentence is perfectly put! Good job!



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Saturday at 11:47 PM
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Very interesting. I have never heard about this holiday. .מעניין מאוד. אף פעם לא שמעתי על החג הזה