Shavuot is a Hebrew word meaning ‘weeks’ and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Shavuot, like so many other Jewish holidays began as an ancient agricultural festival, marking the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. Shavuot was distinguished in ancient times by bringing crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Torah tells us it took precisely forty-nine days for our ancestors to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai (the same number of days as the Counting of the Omer) where they were to receive the Torah. Thus, Leviticus 23:21 commands: ‘And you shall proclaim that day (the fiftieth day) to be a holy convocation…’ The name Shavuot, ‘Weeks,’ then symbolizes the completion of a seven-week journey.

Special customs on Shavuot are the reading of the Book of Ruth, which reminds us that we too can find a continual source of blessing in our tradition. Another tradition includes staying up all night to study Torah and Mishnah, a custom called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, which symbolizes our commitment to the Torah, and that we are always ready and awake to receive the Torah. Traditionally, dairy dishes are served on this holiday to symbolize the sweetness of the Torah, as well as the ‘land of milk and honey’.

Shavuot is celebrated seven weeks after Passover (when the barley harvest begins). These seven weeks are called the Omer and are counted ceremonially. This counting, called s’firat ha-omer, begins on the second day of Passover.The source for this practice is found in the book of Deuteronomy, “You shall count off seven weeks…then you shall observe the Feast of Weeks to Adonai your God” (Deuteronomy 16:9-10). The counting of the Omer takes place daily after the evening service.

Once the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the mitzvah of bringing the first fruits of the harvest was lost, the Rabbis were concerned that the observance of Shavuot might disappear. It was during this time period (2nd century C.E.) when the Rabbis determined that the revelation of Torah at Sinai coincided with Shavuot. 

Shavuot 2018

Join us for our Erev Shavuot service on Saturday, May 19 beginning at 8 pm with Havdalah.  Rabbi Devorah, Rabbi Benj and Marshall Voit will lead us in study, song and a culinary appreciation of all things sweet and delicious.

On Sunday, May 20 we will have our Shavuot Yizkor service at 9 am and then, at 4 pm we will gather for the Shavuot Festival service conducted by the members of our Kabbalat Torah class to  celebrate the graduation of our high school seniors who continued their Jewish education through grade 12.  The students who will be graduating this year are Jeremy Appelbaum, Landon Breite-Pessot, Nathan Cummins, Michael Graham, Alexis Handler, Sam Handler, Eliana Krasner, Sam Lenett, Avi Martin, Max Mittleman, Kyle Norris, Rachel Patterson, Rachel Rosenzweig, and Jonny Schindler.

Following the service, there will be a delicious community dinner catered by Barry Lander. Cost for the dinner is $18 per person for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.  RSVP using the form below or call the Temple Office at (619) 286-2555.

Shavuot Community Dinner

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