Shavout—the Festival of Weeks or the Harvest Holiday

Join us Sunday 5/24, 9:00am for brunch, learning & cheesecake.  And Monday, 5/25, 10:00am for Morning Services (includes Yiskor Prayers)

IMG_2544Shavout , like Passover and Succot, is a harvest festival.  It commemorates both the time when the first harvested fruits were brought to the Temple and the giving of the Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai.  Shavout is celebrated for two days (the 6 and 7 of Sivan) at the end of the Counting of the Omer which begins on the second day of Passover and ends on Shavout.

IMG_2543On Passover the Jews were physically freed from bondage; on Shavout the Jews were redeemed spiritually from bondage by receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai.  A midrash (story) says that the Israelites were so excited to receive the Torah from God that they stayed up all night learning and praying until the sun rose  As a result, on Shavout, work is not permitted and many Jews stay up all night to study Torah and then pray at dawn. On the second day of Shavout, Jews read the Book of Ruth which discusses the harvest season and looks at the first conversion to Judaism: Ruth, a non-Jewish daughter-in-law of Naomi.  After the death of her husband,  Ruth decided to follow Naomi by embracing the Jewish faith with the words, “Wither thou goes, I will go; your God will be my God….”.)  Ruth eventually remarried an Israeli judge, Boaz. Their descendants include Kings David and Solomon.  It is said that some day the Messiah will be a descendant of Ruth, Judaism’s first convert.
It is customary on Shavout to eat at least one dairy meal since the Israelites did not yet have the rules of Kashrut for eating meat.  Popular foods consumed during Shavout include blintzes, cottage cheese, sour cream and cheesecake.