The Jewish Agency for Israel is enabling Jews around the world to celebrate next week’s Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd by offering the new “Sigd-in-a-Box” digital toolkit, which brings the significant yet under-the-radar holiday to life through a crash course presentation with a companion script, recipes, music, a video with personal stories, bookable speakers, and more.
Observed from Nov. 22-23 this year, Sigd was preserved by Ethiopian Jews for centuries and is a day of fasting and renewal. Held 50 days after Yom Kippur, it centers on the idea of accepting the Torah and yearning for Israel and Jerusalem. The holiday serves as another, more public layer beyond the private introspection of Yom Kippur.
Sigd is a national holiday in Israel. But in recent years, The Jewish Agency has worked to expand awareness about Sigd among world Jewry, using the holiday as an opportunity for cultivating Jewish unity. Now, the toolkit provides Jewish communities with the resources to not only learn more about Sigd, but to even host their own celebrations and educational events surrounding the holiday.
“There is much more to the Hebrew calendar than Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Hanukkah, and other well-known holidays,” said Sigal Kanotopsky, The Jewish Agency’s Regional Director to the Northeast U.S. and a well-known Ethiopian Israeli leader, who immigrated to Israel with her family 40 years ago through Sudan. “By accessing Sigd-in-a-Box, Jewish communities across the globe can grow closer — first learning about one another’s unique customs and cultures, and then even serving as de facto ambassadors for Sigd."
Kanotopsky added that studying Sigd provides Jews in North America and worldwide with a more complete picture of Israel and its diversity.
“Jewish institutions, organizations, and leaders can use our digital toolkit to meet young American Jews where they are by raising awareness about the Ethiopian Jewish community and other diverse populations in Israel,” Kanotopsky said. “Educational programming that teaches about Sigd accomplishes the objective of speaking more comprehensively and more authentically about Israel’s religious and cultural landscapes.”
“Sigd is a wonderful opportunity for our global Jewish community to become closer as we celebrate this moving day of communal reflection,” said Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Doron Almog. “It’s a time for us to learn more about the rich Ethiopian Jewish culture and also honor the difficult journey many made – and many who are still waiting to make – to Jerusalem.”
Kanotopsky, meanwhile, is also touring Jewish communities and college campuses this month to give educational presentations about Sigd and celebrate the holiday with those audiences. She is speaking at Yale University and George Washington University, as well as Jewish communities in Boston; Westchester County, N.Y.; and Manhattan’s Upper West Side.