Melkam Addis Amet 2009 | Happy Ethiopian New Year

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:02 PM EDT, 11 September 2009

Today is the New Year for Ethiopians.  The unique thing about Ethiopian traditions and calendar observances, is how closely aligned they are with Judaism.  Even a cursory knowledge of biblical history, calls to mind the great union between the titular heads of Ethiopian and Israel.  Essentially, what began as a diplomatic interaction to negotiate political and economic trade concerns has subsequently been translated by a number of cultures and peoples into a great love story.  I am speaking of the relationship between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, known in Amharic as Makeda.

There are of course many historical, political, and biblical complexities that led to the divergence of Judaism and Christianity in Ethiopia.  I am not an authority, but direct individuals interested in exploring the topic further to check out the BBC History - The Queen of Sheba; or to explore the wealth of information and history presented by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, African Christianity in Ethiopia.

For me, the affinity that I have for Ethiopian people, culture, language and cuisine is inexplicable.  I am often mistaken as Ethiopian, since I bare a resemblance to people from the horn of Africa.  I cherish my relationships with my Ethiopian friends, and I am grateful that they have opened their hearts and communities to me.  So, when a friend from Addis Ababa sent me the picture above, I couldn't help but post it.  This is a highly spiritual time for Ethiopian Christians and Jews alike.  A time where we can through fasting and prayer, grow closer to Hashem, repent of our sins, and go forth into the New Year renewed.

For Jews, Rosh Hashana, literally "Head of the New Year" will be celebrated on sundown of September 18, 2009 on the Gregorian Calendar.  In terms of the Hebrew calendar, Rosh Hashana, ראש השנה will occur on the 1st of Tishrei in the year 5770.  For those of you interested in converting Gregorian calendar dates into their Hebrew equivalent check out  Hebcal.com.

For my readers who are interested in converting Gregorian calendar dates into their Ethiopian calendar equivalent, also check out Mtesfaye.net.

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