The roots of the Ethiopian Jews’ Sigd holiday — it may date back to the sixth or 15th century — are shrouded in mystery, but its celebration now is contemporary. Marked 50 days after Yom Kippur in remembrance of the date, according to Ethiopian belief, when God first revealed Himself to Moses, Sigd was observed in Ethiopia with fasting and praying on a mountaintop. Last week in Jerusalem, Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish community, joined by members of the Falash Mura group who have arrived in recent years, conducted their traditional ceremony in the capital’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood then marched to the Western Wall. A kess, religious leader of the community, above, prays during a Sigd celebration in Jerusalem.
The Bnei Akiva youth group shared the festivities at Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall; there was singing, dancing and educational booths for children. Sigd — the name in Ge’ez, an Ethiopian language, means “prostration” or “worship” — was declared an official Israeli holiday three years ago.