Sigd: An Ethiopian Jewish holiday: Ethiopian Native Yeshi Mengistu to speak at URI Nov. 21

KINGSTON, R.I. – Nov. 10, 2022– Ethiopian native, Yeshi Mengistu, the academic attaché at the Consulate General of Israel to New England, will speak about the Ethiopian Jewish holiday Sigd and the Ethiopian immigration to Israel Monday, Nov. 21 at noon at the University of Rhode Island

The talk will be in the Hardge Forum in the Multicultural Student Services Center, 74 Lower College Road, Kingston Campus. URI Hillel and the Multicultural Student Services Center are sponsoring the event.

Mengistu was born in Ethiopia and later immigrated with her family to Israel. She graduated from Ben-Gurion University with a bachelor’s degree in politics and government and African studies.

Sigd is an Amharic word meaning “prostration” or “worship” and is the name for a holiday celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish community on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. This date is exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur, and according to Ethiopian Jewish tradition is also the date that God first revealed himself to Moses.

Sigd has been celebrated continuously for centuries, but until recently, it was observed exclusively among Ethiopian Jews. In 2008, Sigd became an official Israeli national holiday, and it is now celebrated in Israel as a religious holiday and an exploration of Ethiopian Jewish culture.

Ethiopian Jews, also known as Beta Israel immigrated to Israel in two waves of mass immigration assisted by the Israeli government: Operation Moses (1984), and Operation Solomon (1991).Today, Israel is home to the largest Beta Israel community in the world, with about 160,500 citizens of Ethiopian descent.

URI senior Samantha Alexander, a student intern at URI Hillel is the organizer of this event. “Many people do not realize that there is a substantial population of Jews of Color in the world. I am excited to have our university learn about a lesser-known aspect of Jewish culture.” Ethiopian coffee and refreshments will be served. To register for the program visit the Hillel