SAE Schools Celebrate Sigd with Meetings and Discussions About Ethiopian Culture and Traditions

Anyone who has not seen the Sigd celebrations at Society for Advancement of Education schools and residences, has not really seen celebration!  Plenty of activities, meetings with graduates and key figures from the Ethiopian community, fascinating lectures, workshops, dancing and fine food filled the day, and lifted everyone’s spirits.

Sigd, now a national holiday in Israel, is celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish community, the “Beta Israel.”  It is celebrated on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Heshvan – 50 days after Yom Kippur, and marks the giving of the Torah and the covenant between God and the Jewish people.

Most members of the Ethiopian Jewish community have now made Aliyah to Israel, and during Sigd, many of them travel to Jerusalem to visit the Wailing Wall and the promenade overlooking the Old City. The holiday is an opportunity for the entire Ethiopian community to meet each year, and it is an important aspect of retaining their roots and culture.

At the Mae Boyer High School and Residence, there were a variety of captivating meetings:

  • 8th-grade students met with Shalev Wabu, Director of the Leadership Department and Alumni at Fidel, an educational and social organization for the Ethiopian-Israeli community. At the meeting, Shalev introduced the students to the story of “Beta Israel”: the struggle for immigration to Israel, the sacrifice and pain, the stories of heroism, and the fulfillment of the dream. Shalev also described the rich and fascinating culture, the challenges of absorption, and the struggle for equality.
  • 9th-grade students met Molgate Taya, a Boyar graduate, who immigrated to Israel when he was 12 and went straight into 9th grade at Boyar. They heard about his experiences as a new oleh, as a student in the school and the residence, including the challenges and difficulties he faced. Although he arrived without knowledge of the language, and without knowing how to read or write, Molgata graduated from high school with a high grade-point average, served as a soldier in the Nahal Brigade, and currently works for a high-tech company.
  • 12th-grade students met with Dr. Jonathan Reuven, who recently starred in the program “The Interns.” Reuven told the students his personal story, as a member of the Ethiopian community who was born in Addis Ababa and immigrated to Israel at the age of only eight months. He spoke about his father, who was imprisoned because of his activities to promote the Ethiopian Jews’ aliyah to Israel, as well as the story of an entire generation of heroes who actively worked to immigrate to Israel and paid a very high price for it.

During the meetings, the students asked questions, displayed interest, and were excited to hear the stories.

The students at SAE’s Ein Carmit Residential Campus celebrated the Sigd holiday with a series of inspiring formal and informal meetings during the days leading up to the holiday, celebrated this year on November 15-16:

  • Yafit Tadela, a graduate of Ein Carmit who is a clinical psychologist and was recently selected as one of the 40 most influential people in Israel under the age of 40, gave two fascinating lectures on the Ethiopian community and holiday customs to 9th and 11th graders.
  • Lior Barhano, currently in the air force, met with the 10th-and 12th-grade classes for captivating meetings in which he recounted the story of his life.
  • 7th and 8th graders were treated to hearing Rotem Mugass, their classmate, tell her family story.

The celebration continued in the dining room, which was decorated in the spirit of the holiday. With the generous help of Aviva Pasha, a variety of Ethiopian culinary delicacies awaited them, in addition to great Ethiopian music playing in the background.

The Reut School hosted a variety of workshops and lectures on interesting topics, including “I Longed For Jerusalem – Creative Writing Inspired by the Day,” “Aliyah from Ethiopia and Secret Spy Stories,”  “Sigd and the Theater,′′ and ′′Amharic is Not a Language Difficult.” The staff and students reported that it was a fascinating day.

At the Ort Netanya Residential Campus, a variety of activities and events took place to mark the Sigd holiday. The students watched a presentation on the immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, enjoyed an abundance of delicacies at a traditional Ethiopian meal, participated in a creating in clay workshop, learned to dance with the entire staff and student body, and even learned to write their names in the Ge’ez language.

And to close, here are some facts that the Boyar High School’s student council wanted everyone to know about the Sigd holiday:

Did you know?

? — The word Sigd is a derived from the word sgida, bowing to God.

? — The Sigd holiday is 2500 years old!!

? — The Sigd holiday symbolizes yearning for Jerusalem.

? — On the Sigd holiday, it is customary to hold a ceremony on the top of a high mountain.

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Ein Carmit is a pluralistic co-educational residence established in 2000 in the Jerusalem Hills, with 110 students, mostly from disadvantaged communities across Israel. Students study in Jerusalem area high schools and receive tutoring, mentoring and social support.

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