Ethopian Jews celebrate a special holiday 50 days after Yom Kippur - around the time of Hanukkah. The holiday is called סיגד (sig-ad) and commemorates the convenant between the Ethiopian Jews, God and the Torah . סיגד is also the name of the language Ethopians use for prayer. It is a semetic language like Hebrew and Arabic but it is not the language they use for everyday exchanges. On a daily basis Ethiopian Jews speak Amharic, also a semetic language.
Every year at this time there are many celebrations of Jewish Ethiopian culture in Israle. An important weeklong festival occurs in Jerusalem with music, dance, food, art, and so on. For three years I have been trying to catch this festival and in particular the Beta Dance Troupe of Haifa. Everytime I looked at their schedule they were touring in the US or Europe or they were here and I was in the US or Europe. Lucky for me, this year, thanks to the sharp eyes of my kids, we were able to get tickets.
I cannot describe how beautiful these dances and dancers are. I am quite addicted to all sorts of African dance but I have never seen anything as delicate and nuanced as the movements of the Ethipiopian syle. The hands and the shoulders are delicate manipulated and controlled. A small shrug, a turn of the head - all reminiscent of the Japanese and Indian use of hands to convey meaning and express emotion.
Unfortunately we could not make it to the rest of the festival. There were so many things I wanted to do. Check out this amazing rock group Aveva Dese doing their thing in the streets outside Machena Yehuda.