written by Liel Messele, from Dror Israel's Tel Aviv Educators Community, currently serving in reserve duty
The 28th day of Heshvan marks the eve of Sigd, which is celebrated every year seven weeks (50 days) after Yom Kippur.
The holiday centers on fasting and prayers to renew the covenant of the people of Israel with their God. Its origin is in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. After the return to Zion from the Babylonian exile they felt a need to renew their covenant with God and recreate the important even of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
The yearning for Zion, the dream of Jerusalem, the love of Israel - these elements are all central to the story of the aliya and heroism of the Ethiopian Jews and the unbreakable bond between the entire nation of Israel and its land.
Many people don't know about Sigd or its meaning. Sigd is holy holiday of communal soul-searching, of spiritual ascension and social demand of mitzvot for the correction and creation of a just and good society. It's an opportunity for us as the Jewish people, as the nation of Israel, to explore mistakes we've made, to understand how our society needs to change and how we can take care of one another. This year we should dedicate Sigd to be a day for introspection and redoubling our efforts to increase the strength and unity of our people.
I also invite you to get to know the holiday a bit better. Ask people how they celebrate it, how it was in Ethiopia and how it is in Israel today. Take the time to volunteer, to meet with those who have just arrived and who are still making new Sigd family traditions in Israel [Many new olim from Ethiopia have been evacuated from their homes and the absorption centers where they were living. They will mark this Sigd with Dror Israel educators in evacuee centers in Netanya, Beer Sheva and Tiberius.]
Knesset Member Pnina Tamano-Shata writes: "Sigd is also a day that symbolizes the strength of Israel's unity. A great strength that we are seeing every day recently, in all its power and all its glory. The mutual aid, the meaningful action, the giving without limits, the brave soldiers- from all parts of Israeli society.
On the Sigd holiday that we are celebrating today, we will pray together for the kidnapped and the missing and their return home, that God will give strength to his people, and especially to the women and men of the Israel Defense Forces, that we will know how to be united even in calmer days, and we will remember that beyond the covenant with the Creator of the world, the people of Israel also have a covenant of brothers."
Wishing you an easy fast and a meaningful Sigd.