Antigua Sun Newspaper
So, my first thought was, “I really need to get some African evening attire.”
There’s something so regal and sophisticated about men and women adorned in the beautiful garments, with their unique and intricate designs that are synonymous with African beauty and pride. So, even though I would’ve been “decked out” by Western standards, I couldn’t help but feel a bit underdressed in the company of men and women who had gathered to celebrate Yom L’Mokereem.
But garments and accessories were the last thing on anyone’s mind as members and friends of the Hebrew Israelite community gathered to celebrate a season of love.
Notably, the day itself was filled with celebration, as millions around the world show their appreciation and love for women in recognition of International Women’s Day; but within the millions, there were also thousands who recognised the day as not only a celebration or appreciation for women, but appreciation for everyone.
The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, abiding by the laws and lifestyle ascribed in the Old Testament, do not recognise nor celebrate Western events such as Christmas or Valentine's.
Yom L’Mokereem is a season of appreciation, where gifts are exchanged and people are celebrated. So without the hoopla of a fuss that accompanies the frenzy of Valentine’s Day or Christmas, gifts are exchanged “just because I appreciate you."
The Divine Day of Appreciation was celebrated in Antigua at the Saffron Restaurant in Jolly Harbour. With a healthy and scrumptious spread of vegan delights, the chatter was lively, the merriment in abundance and the genuine celebration for life, friendships and a close relationship with God was evident.
With prayers offered to God in the Hebrew tongue, the evening followed with the dinner, and then entertainment in the form of poetry, amusing skits and songs.
The members of the Hebrew Israelite community will tell you that their beliefs are not of a religious system, but a lifestyle based on the Old Testament. Theirs is a life filled with peace, an appreciation for life, education and the performing arts. But most importantly, with an offering of “Halleluyah” being heard ever so often, the most important element of their life is their praise of and relationship with Yah. In case you’re wondering, “Yah” is the Hebrew word for God.
One of the skits that I enjoyed was a two-man drama of one of the member's life changing experience when he was introduced to the “Kingdom of Yah”. Once living a life of parties, regular clubbing at Web (remember that night club, pretty close to where the Savoy Nightclub is located). Overwhelmed and completely mesmerised by his fellow Antiguan’s life change, Ammi Ben Israel, the young man returned to the God of his childhood days, accepted the teachings of the Old Testament and traded in his old Western influenced lifestyle, for one of peace, health and an enriching relationship with God.
Even though some may still not be able to understand, appreciate or even respect the Hebrew Israelite community and their lifestyle, there is a valuable lesson that we could all take from them and their celebration of Yom L’Mokereem. The lesson? To appreciate each other more, for no reason other than pure appreciation. The best type of appreciation or gift exchange? The one that’s given for no other sake than the sake of giving and showing the people around you that you love and appreciate them and their presence in their lives.
Happy Yom L’Mokereem to you from me!