In the shadow of Israel’s war against Hamas and in accordance with Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command directives, hundreds of Ethiopians gathered in Jerusalem on Monday to celebrate Sigd.
The holiday, which originated in Ethiopia’s Jewish community hundreds of years ago, celebrates their yearning to return to Israel and affirm their connection to Jerusalem.
Sigd takes place 50 days after Yom Kippur, and is recognized by the Knesset as a national holiday.
Sigd comes from the Aramaic word sged which means to prostrate oneself, as in prayer.
Earlier this year, the Israeli government approved a plan to extend and update its plan to integrate citizens of Ethiopian descent.
In approving the proposal, submitted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the government aims to continue accelerating the integration of the immigrant community, numbering around 160,000, or almost two percent of the country’s population.
A total budget of some $66 million will be allocated for 2023-2024 to various government ministries and the Government Urban Renewal Authority to implement the plan, which is based on the insights and achievements of the 2017-2023 government plan for the integration of Israelis of Ethiopian descent.
The goals include continuing to integrate Ethiopian Israelis into military service, closing the income gap and increasing trust between the community and the government, among other aims.
Netanyahu announced in May the creation of a ministerial-level committee to address the needs of the country’s Ethiopian community.
“I am aware that there are additional challenges, but this committee is the tool to continue advancing our brothers and sisters from the Ethiopian community. I know that it will receive the cooperation of all ministries, as has been the case up until now,” said Netanyahu.