“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”

Psalm 95:6

According to the Biblical calendar, the new moon marks the beginning of each new month. It is called Rosh Chodesh (lit. the head of the month). The word for month – chodesh – is a form of the Hebrew word chadash – which means new. The appearance of the new moon is a beautiful monthly reminder of renewal and a reminder that God is a God of renewal and new beginnings even when things may become dark for periods in our lives.

This new month just begun is Kislev, and on the last day of the previous month Cheshvan, a special celebration is held each year in Israel which originated with the Ethiopian Jewish Community. It has been part of their tradition for centuries and is an annual renewal of the covenant made at Sinai, and to express their ‘yearning for Zion’. For many, though not all, those prayers of thousands of years – to go to ‘Zion’ – have been realised so thanksgiving prayer is added.  As well, it honours the thousands of Jews who set off on hazardous  journeys to reach Israel, many losing their lives.

In Ethiopia the ceremony was held by the priests atop a mountain and was a day of fasting and repentance. In Jerusalem it is held on a point that overlooks the city. Community-wide celebrations include music, dancing and feasting. It is a time of communal reconnection and joy to which many non Ethiopian Jews are drawn.

This very special ritual is Sigd, meaning ‘prostration’ or ‘bow’ in Ge’ez, an ancient Ethiopian liturgical language. 

Like the new moon reminder of renewal, Sigd gives us a wonderful picture of remembering to come before the LORD to renew our vows of commitment to Him, and because of all He has done for us to, “…come before His presence with thanksgiving.” Psalm 95:2.

ICEJ’s Ethiopian Jewry Department.

Although there is no longer a separate department within ICEJ Aid to assist Ethiopian Jews who made Aliyah, there was one established for a period of time because of the significant involvement of ICEJ staff with the growing Ethiopian community following the dramatic airlifts of Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.  People were lifted from a subsistence farming way of life to the 20th century and adjustment was not easy. Today ICEJ continues to help the community with their unique needs. This past year ICEJ funded an entire emergency flight of Ethiopian Jews fleeing war and famine…. 

Can you help us partner with Gods plans to bring the children of Israel home, we are the distant nations called upon as Isaiah foretold…

“He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12)

“See. I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up My banner to the peoples; they will carry your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.” 

(Isaiah 49:22)

Shabbat Shalom!

Sarah Way

ICEJ Australia National Director

Sarah Way ICEJ Australia National Director
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