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This Culture Spotlight was created on Jun 30, 2015 @ 05:29:51 am

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Africa Yehuday Etiopia



In Israel there exists the largest community of Black Jews in the world. They are called today Yehuday Etiopia or Ethiopian Jews. They have their own Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Hadane, recognized by the State of Israel. He has amongst his duties to make sure that Ethiopians in Israel before they marry have either a continuous female line Jewish lineage or else that they first convert. This is because of the gap between World Jewry in touch with Rabbinical Jewish Law and their Ethiopian brethren not traditionally conversant in Rabbinical Judaism altogether.

They are developing their own responses to Rabbinical Judaism on individual and communal levels. This causes tension at times but the Jews from the Former Soviet Union have had a similar situation with Israel having to deal with people considering themselves Jewish in accordance with Soviet government definitions but not Jewish ones. In any event many Ethiopian Jews want to preserve customs that have been in vogue in Ethiopia. One of them, a holiday in Israel, called Sigd is an opportunity nowadays, for all Jews to further their bonds as a people or more accurately in terms of Jewish attitudes, a family.

Sigd falls out the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, 50 days after Yom Kippur. The holiday recalls the reaffirmation of acceptance of God's covenant with Israel through the leadership of Ezra and Nehemia leaders of the returning Jewish exiles to Israel from the Babylonian exile, the first exile of the Jewish people.
In 2008, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset legislated Sigd as a national holiday. Rabbi Yosef Hadane helped to organize its annual Jerusalem celebration. It is a time when Ethiopian Jews celebrate their heritage and now a time when their fellow Jews come to celebrate with them their common connection. After welcoming their brothers and sisters home to Israel, they are trying to make them feel at home.


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