Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sigd 2009: A Video Presentation About Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews)




Better late than never, right? It's only three weeks late!

I started putting this together in honour of Sigd in 2009 to celebrate its official recognition by the Knesset in 2008. (again, better late than never!)

Sigd is a national holiday of the Beta Israel (once known by outside Jews as Falashas, which is now known to be a derogatory term), which is marked by fast and prayer demonstrating the Jews' longing to return to Jerusalem.

However, now that most are actually in Israel, as my friend Shira put it here, the holiday "had to be adapted to be about longing for the beit HaMikdash," and ultimately, longing for Maschiach, a sentiment most of us can get behind. Plus, she says it's a great party - any excuse for a party is fine with me, especially in the middle of a holiday-less month!

The soundtrack is a song I've always loved, "Zichronot M'Africa" from the wonderful Putomayo collection, sung by Shlomo Gronich and the Sheba Choir (made up of Israeli children of Ethiopian descent).

I created this for my kids because I couldn't find many resources about Sigd or Ethiopian Jews. I had two main goals:

1) Remembering those who suffered in Ethiopia, many of whom didn't make it to Israel during the organized rescue of Ethiopian Jews (Operation Solomon), and died in Ethiopia or Sudan during this miserable and heroic chapter of our shared history as Jews, and

2) Celebrating the rescue and lives of those who survived and who - with their children and grandchildren - are living in the Promised Land today.

For more information about Ethiopian Jews:

http://nacoej.org/ (mostly outdated information)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_Israel

Sigd photos: http://www.pbase.com/yalop/sigd

A short but decent article from this year's (2009) Sigd can be found here.

(will add links as I come across them; this is by no means comprehensive!)

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