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yətbaräk 'əgzi'abəher 'amlakä 'əsra'el ("Blessed be God the Lord of Israel") is a main religious sentence.

Haymanot (Ge'ez: ሃይማኖት) is the branch of Judaism which is practiced by the Beta Israel, also known as Ethiopian Jews.

In Geʽez, Tigrinya and Amharic, Haymanot means 'religion' or 'faith'. Thus in modern Amharic and Tigrinya, it is common to speak of the Christian haymanot, the Jewish haymanot or the Muslim haymanot. In Israel, the term is only associated with Judaism.

Religious leaders

  • Nabiyy "prophet", related to the Arabic and Hebrew words nabī and naví respectively, used in Jewish and Islamic writing to refer to prophets.
  • Monkosa "monk", related to the Greek word monakhós, which means "alone, solitary".
  • Kahen or Qes "priest", spiritual leader, similar to a Kohen and analogous to a rabbi or hakham.
  • Liqa Kahnet, "High Priest"
  • Debtera, itinerant holy man
  • Shemagle, elder



Mäṣḥafä Kedus (Holy Scriptures) is the name for the religious literature. The language of the writings is Geʽez. The Beta Israel lack a firm distinction between "canonical" and "non-canonical" religious texts.[1] The religious texts of the Beta Israel include:

In contrast to mainstream Rabbinite Jews, adherents of Haymanot Judaism do not believe in Oral Law, nor in the codified Talmud.[3][4]

Prayer house


The synagogue is called masgid (place of worship) also bet maqds (Holy house) or ṣalot bet (Prayer house).

Dietary laws


Dietary laws are based mainly on Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Jubilees. Permitted and forbidden animals and their signs appear on Leviticus 11:3–11:8 and Deuteronomy 14:4–14:8. Forbidden birds are listed on Leviticus 11:13–11:23 and Deuteronomy 14:12–14:20. Signs of permitted fish are written on Leviticus 11:9–11:12 and Deuteronomy 14:9–14:10. Insects and larvae are forbidden according to Leviticus 11:41–11:42. Birds of prey are forbidden according to Leviticus 11:13–11:19. Gid hanasheh is forbidden per Genesis 32:33. Mixtures of milk and meat are not prepared or eaten but are not banned either: Haymanot interpreted the verses Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21 literally "shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk" (like the Karaites). Nowadays, under Rabbinic influence, mixing dairy products with meat is banned.

Ethiopian Jews were forbidden to eat the food of non-Jews. A Kes (priest) eats only meat he has slaughtered himself, which his hosts then prepare both for him and themselves. Beta Israel who broke these taboos were ostracized and had to undergo a purification process. Purification included fasting for one or more days, eating only uncooked chickpeas provided by the Kes, and ritual purification before entering the village. Unlike other Ethiopians, the Beta Israel do not eat raw meat dishes like kitfo or gored gored.[5]

Calendar and holidays


The Beta Israel calendar is a lunar calendar of 12 months, each 29 or 30 days alternately. Every four years there has been a leap year which added a full month (30 days). The calendar is a combination of the ancient calendar of Alexandria Jewry, Book of Jubilees, Book of Enoch, Abu Shaker and the Geʽez calendar.[6] The years are counted according to the Counting of Kushta "1571 to Jesus Christ, 7071 to the Gyptians and 6642 to the Hebrews",[7] according to this counting the year 5782 (Hebrew: ה'תשע"א) in the Rabbinical Hebrew calendar is the year 7082 in this calendar.

Holidays in the Haymanot [8] divided into daily, monthly and annually. The annual holiday by month are:

  • Nisan: ba'āl lisan (Nisan holiday – New Year) on 1, ṣomä fāsikā (Passover fast) on 14, fāsikā (Passover) between 15 – 21 and gadfat (grow fat) or buho (fermented dough) on 22.
  • Iyar: another fāsikā (Second Passover – Pesach Sheni) between 15 – 21.
  • Sivan: ṣomä mã'rar (Harvest fast) on 11 and mã'rar (Harvest – Shavuot) on 12.
  • Tammuz: ṣomä tomos (Tammuz fast) between 1 – 10.
  • Av: ṣomä ab (Av fast) between 1 – 17.
  • Seventh Sabbath: fixed as the fourth Sabbath of the fifth month.[9]
  • Elul: awd amet (Year rotate) on 1, ṣomä lul (Elul fast) between 1 – 9, anākel astar'i (our atonement) on 10 and asartu wasamantu (eighteenth) on 28.
  • Tishrei: ba'āl Matqe (blowing holiday – Zikhron Trua) on 1, astasreyo (Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur) on 10 and ba'āla maṣallat (Tabernacles holiday – Sukkot) between 15 – 21.
  • Cheshvan: holiday for the day Moses saw the face of God on 1, holiday for the reception of Moses by the Israelites on 10, fast on 12 and měhlělla (Supplication – Sigd) on 29.
  • Kislev: another ṣomä mã'rar and mã'rar on 11 and 12 respectively.
  • Tevet: ṣomä tibt (Tevet fast) between 1 – 10.
  • Shevat: wamashi brobu on 1.
  • Adar: ṣomä astēr (Fast of Esther – Ta'anit Ester) between 11 – 13.

Monthly holidays are mainly memorial days to the annual holiday, these are yačaraqā ba'āl ("new moon festival") [10] on the first day of every month, asärt ("ten") on the tenth day to commemorate Yom Kippur, 'asrã hulat ("twelve") on the twelfth day to commemorate Shavuot, asrã ammest ("fifteen") on the fifteenth day to commemorate Passover and Sukkot, and ṣomä mälěya a fast on the last day of every month.[11] Daily holidays include the ṣomä säňňo (Monday fast), ṣomä amus (Thursday fast), ṣomä 'arb (Friday fast) and the very holy Sanbat (Sabbath).



The Beta Israel of Ethiopia were the only modern Jewish group with a monastic tradition where the monks, titled as Abba, lived separated from the Jewish villages in monasteries. This collective monastic tradition existed until the middle of the 20th century.[12][13][14]

See also

  • Karaite Judaism, a denomination of Judaism that bears similarities to Haymanot


  1. ^ The Ethiopian Book of Jeremiah, which is shared with the Beta Israel,[2] also includes the Book of Baruch and the Rest of the Words of Baruch (which itself contains the Book of Lamentations, the Letter of Jeremiah, and the Paralipomena of Baruch).
  2. ^ The "Testament of Moses" (Gadla Musé) and the "Testament of Aaron" (Gadla Aron) are also known as the "Death of Moses" (Motá Musé) and the "Death of Aaron" (Motá Aron).


  1. ^ a b Kaplan, Steven (1999). "The Literature of the Beta Israel (Falasha): A Survey of a Biblical-Hebraic Tradition". Xristianskij Vostok. 1 (7): 99–123.
  2. ^ Leslau, Wolf (1951). Falasha Anthology. Yale Judaica Series. Vol. 6. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. p. xxviii. ISBN 0-300-03927-1. The Torah (orit) is written in Geez... The name applies not only to the Pentateuch but to the entire Old Testament, and the text is identical with that of the Christian Ethiopians. [V]arious apocrypha and pseudepigrapha such as... the Paralipomena of Baruch... are included.
  3. ^ Ehrlich, Mark Avrum (2009). Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, Volume 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 473. Traditionally, the Beta Israel were monotheistic and practiced a Torah-based Judaism, without observing Oral Law, or knowing the Talmud, known to other communities of Jews.
  4. ^ Appiah, Anthony; Gates, Henry Louis Jr. (2005). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Oxford University Press. p. 565. In terms of their religious beliefs, the Beta Israel have always identified themselves as exiles from the land of Israel and believers of the faith of Moses. For almost 2,000 years, however, they were completely isolated from the rest of the Jewish world. They never learned of the Talmud, the codification of Jewish oral law, or any of the traditions that arose after biblical times, such as the holiday of Hanukkah.
  5. ^ Shelemay, Music, page 42
  6. ^ Quirun, 1992, p. 71
  7. ^ Aešcoly, Book of the Falashas, p. 56
  8. ^ Aešcoly, Book of the Falashas, p. 62-70 (Hebrew); Shelemay, Music, Ritual, and Falasha History, p. 44-57; Leslau, Falasha Anthology, p. xxviii–xxxvi; Quirun, The Evolution of the Ethiopian Jews, p. 146-150
  9. ^ Devens, M. S. 'The Liturgy of the Seventh Sabbath: A Betä Israel (Falasha) Text', p. xx/4.4 (Introduction), Wiesbaden, 1995.
  10. ^ see Rosh Chodesh
  11. ^ see also Yom Kippur Katan
  12. ^ Semien Menata – Site of the Last Central Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jewish) Monastery
  13. ^ "The Monasteries of the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews)". Archived from the original on 2019-12-27. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  14. ^ Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jewish) Monastic Sites North of Lake Tana - Preliminary Results of an Exploratory Field Trip to Ethiopia in December 2015