Saturday, November 21, 2009

We Just Celebrated the Sigd Holiday

Shalom Yeladim:

I bet you never heard of Sigd, but in Israel it’s been a national holiday for the past two years. It’s a holiday that began in Ethiopia and was brought to Israel by the Beta Israel –Ethiopian Jews who live in our country. Some people believe that the Beta Israel Jews are descendants of King Solomon and the beautiful Queen of Sheba. Wow!

Ethiopia is a country in Africa. The Beta Israel community always dreamed of making Israel their home. After thousands of years, Israel is finally their country the same way it’s mine. I’m so happy and proud. That’s why I took a picture of some of my Beta Israel friends. I also took a picture of part of the Sigd celebration.

So what is the Sigd holiday all about? It takes place 50 days after Yom Kippur and it celebrates the Jews accepting the Torah on Mt. Sinai as their way of life. Sigd is cool because it’s like other Jewish holidays that start with a fast and end with a feast. We Jews know how to fast and we know how to cook! Look at the Fast of Esther which ends with a Purim feast. And what about Passover? We have the fast of the first born followed by the Seder. There’s another connection between Passover and Sigd. Passover is all about how we left Egypt and made it to the land of Canaan. In between, we were given the Torah. Towards the end of the Seder what do we say? “Le Shana Ha’ba’a B’Yerushalayim” – “Next Year in Jerusalem.” For thousands of years, on Sigd, the Beta Israel gathered on mountaintops outside their Ethiopian villages to pray for their return to Jerusalem…and look where they are today and where they have the big Sigd celebration. In Jerusalem!

I thought about taking you to Jerusalem, but I’m making a detour to Petach Tikva – a city in the center of Israel where they celebrated Sigd in their schools. Make sure you click on the video clip to see what they did. At the end you’ll see kids dressed up in Ethiopian costumes and doing a special dance with streamers. I learned how to do the dance. It’s simple. Look at the steps. Come on… dance with me!

Chag Sameach…Zvuvi

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why Do Israelis Like Porcupines & Sabra Fruits?

Shalom Yeladim:
I’m on my way to visit the animal hospital at the Ramat Gan Safari.I want to thank them for taking care of three cute porcupine babies that some nice animal lovers brought to the hospital because they were so teeny tiny, and had lost their way from their parents. The kind people that found them understood that these orphaned baby porcupines needed a warm home and someone to teach them how to survive. The zookeepers and veterinarians at the Safari hospital did just that for three months. They were recently put back in their natural surroundings because the Safari people felt the porcupines were ready to be on their own.
All the newspapers covered the story and it got me thinking…thinking about the Israeli version of Sesame Street and one of its main characters – “Keepee” (“Keepod” is porcupine in Hebrew). You can see a picture of “Keepee” on top of the porcupines. See any resemblance? “Keepee” is a giant porcupine and is Israel’s equivalent to Big Bird. That’s right, there is no Big Bird on Rechov Sumsum – Sesame Street in Hebrew. Israelis are very nice and caring, but Big Bird was just a little too gentle for them. The Israeli Sesame Street producers felt that Israeli boys and girls needed a character that’s like the country’s sabra fruit – prickly on the outside – just like in the picture next to “Keepee” – and warm and wonderful on the inside. That’s why everyone in Israel is called a Sabra…and that’s why they created “Keepee”. Ouch, his hair is long and spiky! But boy is he a sweetie deep down.
Hey, sounds like me. I’m a Sabra. My tentacles are not soft to the touch. With all my buzzing around I’m not exactly the softest being, but hey, aren’t I the nicest fly you’ve ever met?
WHOA! I got to go. I have to contact the Sesame Street people and ask them if they’d like me to appear on the show. I’m a natural!