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“You shall count off seven weeks; start to count the seven weeks when the sickle is first put to the standing grain.
Then you shall observe the Feast of Weeks for the Lord your G-d,
offering your free will contribution according
as the Lord your G-d has blessed you”

(Deuteronomy 16:9-10)

Shavuot (“Weeks”) is celebrated on the sixth day of Sivan and is known as the Feast of the Weeks.

Historically, Shavuot celebrates the harvest season and the offering of the first fruits of that harvest to the temple.

In modern times we’ve taken a more spiritual perspective on Shavuot. The holiday has come to represent the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. It is seen as the mirror image to Passover – the responsibility that comes from liberation.

Shavuot is typically spent in all-night study. One legend claims that on the morning that they received the Torah, the Israelites actually overslept and now we study through the night in penance. But more commonly it is believed that the study continues in anticipation of the reenactment of the receiving of the commandments which are then read at sunrise.

Interestingly, the reading for Shavuot is the Book of Ruth. Like Shavuot, Ruth’s story takes place during the harvest and like the Israelites who accepted the Torah, she makes a conscious choice to accept Judaism as her religion and her way of life.

Ways to celebrate:

  • Attend an all-night study session and participate in a reenactment of the receiving of the Torah.

  • Make a commitment to studying the Torah in the coming year and start making plans to participate in the WRJ Chayei Sarah Torah Study on November 18th. The study will use materials from WRJ’s ground-breaking book, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, published in December 2007. (Please contact Executive Director Shelley Lindauer at slindauer@urj.org for more information on the study).

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