Shavout is HERE! Shavuot Sameach!

On Saturday night, June 8, 2019, Coffee Shop Rabbi is sponsoring an ONLINE celebration of Tikkun Leil Shavuot, the late-night/all-night study session to celebrate the Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

This FREE event will take place via Zoom software – all you will have to do is click on the link I will post on this blog Saturday afternoon, and you can attend via your home computer or your smartphone. The schedule of teachers from 7-11pm Pacific Daylight Time:

7-7:55 pm – Rabbi Deborah GoldmannCongregation Shaareth Israel, Lubbock TX. “Who Was Standing at Sinai?”

8-8:55pm – Student Rabbi Meir Bargeron, MSW, MAHL, Hebrew Union College Los Angeles, “Doing Unto Others: Compassion in Judaism.”

9-9:55pm – Jehon Grist, Ph.D., Lehrhaus Judaica, “The Divine Feminine in the Biblical World.”

10-10:55pm – Rabbi Ruth Adar, Coffee Shop Rabbi, “Stories of Springtime: Visions of Jewish Life in the Spring Holiday Cycle.

The event is free. You need not speak a word of Hebrew. You don’t even need to be Jewish! You can log in from anywhere and celebrate Torah with three wonderful teachers and myself.

Please share this link with anyone who might enjoy it: lovers of Torah, Jews who cannot attend a local event, people curious about Judaism. The link to the Zoom event will be posted here by 6:30pm Saturday evening.


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Tikkun Leil Shavuot, 5779 (2019): An Online Event!

Image: Logo, Tikkun Leil Shavuot, on a background of mountains, with a flame.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot is one of the ways we celebrate the festival of Shavuot. It is an all-night or late night Torah study session on Erev Shavuot, in honor of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The holiday this year begins on Saturday, June 8, at sundown.

This year Coffee Shop Rabbi will host an online Tikkun Leil Shavuot from 7:00 until 11:00pm Pacific Daylight Time on June 8. If you have access to local study, I encourage you to take advantage of it – there’s nothing like gathering for study with your community. But if you are, like me, unable to get to a local Tikkun Leil Shavuot event, I’m hosting one here online!

So far, the lineup of teachers looks like this (times are Pacific Daylight time):

Rabbi Goldmann, Student Rabbi Bargeron, Dr. Grist, and Rabbi Adar

7-7:55 pmRabbi Deborah Goldmann, Congregation Shaareth Israel, Lubbock TX. “Who Was Standing at Sinai?”

8-8:55pmStudent Rabbi Meir Bargeron, MSW, MAHL, Hebrew Union College Los Angeles, “Doing Unto Others: Compassion in Judaism.”

9-9:55pmJehon Grist, Ph.D., Lehrhaus Judaica, “The Divine Feminine in the Biblical World.”

10-10:55pm – Rabbi Ruth Adar, Coffee Shop Rabbi, “Tzedakah as a Spiritual Practice.” Rabbi Adar is a contributor to The Sacred Exchange: Creating a Jewish Money Ethic published this spring by CCAR Press.

The program will be FREE to all comers. I will post the link for the Zoom room in a post in a new message on this the blog on the afternoon of Saturday, June 8. All you have to do is look in here, click on the link, and bingo! You will be in our session room. If you have friends who might enjoy joining us, please pass the word to them.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot Online!

Image: A group of four people studying around a table. (Jacob/Shutterstock)

Dear Readers:

There’s a very old custom among us Jews to celebrate the feast of Shavuot with an all-night study session called Tikkun Leil Shavuot. We celebrate the memory of our reception of Torah at Sinai by learning Torah all night long. (Follow the link for more background on the tradition.)

This year I’d like to offer the Coffee Shop Rabbi First Annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot Online. We’ll begin at 8:10 pm Eastern Time, 5:10 pm Pacific Time. We’ll go until we’re just too tired to keep going, or until dawn on the East Coast, whichever comes first. I cannot promise to keep going after 10 pm Pacific, but I will do my best.

I will teach Megillat Ruth, The Scroll of Ruth that evening and lead a discussion of the book. It’s a traditional text for Shavuot.  If you want to prepare ahead of time, I recommend reading the Book of Ruth in your Jewish Bible.

Everyone is welcome, Jewish, non-Jewish, Jew-ish, or just curious. I will offer the class via Zoom, so we can see one another.

Alas, everyone will have to bring their own coffee and cheesecake.

If you are interested in joining us at any point in that evening, please do the following:

  1. Send an email with the subject line:  Shavuot to me at adar.ruth@yahoo.com.
  2. In the email, please give me the name you wish to use in the classroom and your email address.
  3. Emails must be received by Noon Pacific Time on May 17, 2018.
  4. I will send you an invitation to the Zoom gathering.
  5. If you don’t follow the directions above I will not be able to accommodate you.
  6. There is no charge for this session, but I ask that you give tzedakah according to your means. Where you donate is up to you.

I hope that you’ll celebrate Shavuot in whatever way is most meaningful to you!

L’shalom,

Rabbi Adar

 

 

Iyyar and the Wilderness

Image: A wild landscape with hills, rivers, and greenery. (skeeze/pixabay)

 

I like to visualize the Jewish Year as a physical journey. The calendar walks us through the events of Jewish memory, and every year, new insights await as I learn new things and as my perspective changes.

During Passover, we relived the events of the Exodus: slavery in Egypt, the fearful night of the Passover, the mad dash to the Red Sea, and deliverance into the wilderness. We began counting the Omer. We count up the time until we will arrive at Shavuot, where the memory of Sinai awaits us.

On the way, there’s some interesting scenery. Remember, this is the wilderness we’re walking through, so perhaps it is a perfect time to remember great and terrible events in our modern history. Last week we observed Yom HaShoah v’HaGevurah (The Day of Shoah and the Heroism.) It is a terrifying thing to see on our road from Freedom to Responsibility (Passover to Shavuot) but it is necessary if we want to truly commit to Sinai yet again with our eyes open.

Yesterday and today are Rosh Chodesh Iyyar. We have left the month of Nisan behind, and entered the month that falls between Passover and Shavuot. Iyyar is a wilderness of a month, brimming with minor holidays most people never learn. It is spring past the first blush, making a run towards summer.

This week we observe Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, from sundown Tuesday to sundown Thursday. On Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) we remember all those who have died in the defense of Israel, and those who died in terror attacks. Then, at sundown Wednesday, sorrow transforms to joy when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day.)  Again, we remember death and sorrow; but this time there is also the modern State of Israel to celebrate and consider.

So that’s the scenery on our journey from chag to chag, from Passover to Shavuot.  What do you see as you travel along the road? Have you any insights to share?

The Secret Holiday – of the Future!

Image: Mt. Sinai. Photo by Tomos Kanopasek/shutterstock. All rights reserved.

If you ask most people – even most Jews! – about Jewish holidays, you’ll likely get the following list:

  1. High Holy Days
  2. Passover
  3. Chanukah
  4. Some other stuff – who can remember?

The order might differ. Passover is in fact the Jewish holiday kept by the greatest number of Jews worldwide. It’s primarily a home holiday, celebrated with a festive meal. Passover speaks of home, hearth, and family to Jews.

The High Holy Days are the days of the year when the greatest number of Jews attend synagogue. They have to do with the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and with repentance from sin (Yom Kippur).

In the 20th century, Chanukah came to the attention of Madison Avenue because it’s the Jewish holiday closest to Christmas.

And yes, everyone knows there are other holidays – but who can remember them all?


The biggest Jewish holiday of all comes once a week: Shabbat!

In Biblical times, there were the Big Three, aka the Chagim. A Chag (Khahg) is a festival that used to require one to travel to Jerusalem to participate in the Temple sacrifices for the day. The Chagim are:

  • Sukkot – which falls right after the High Holy Days
  • Passover – at Passover
  • Shavuot – 50 days after Passover

Follow the links if you are curious about Sukkot and Passover. In ancient times, Sukkot was the biggest holiday of the entire year, so much so that the people referred to it as “THE Chag.” The people of Israel loved Sukkot and celebrated it with the same enthusiasm we celebrate Passover today.

Passover celebrates Part 1 of the great drama of the Jewish People, the Exodus from Egypt (yitziat Mitzrayim.) However, it is only the beginning of the story, one half of the covenant between God and Israel. On Passover, God delivers the people from slavery in the land of Egypt. But this is a covenant – a two way deal! It is not complete until Shavuot.

On Shavuot, we celebrate Part 2 of the great drama. Fifty days after Passover, the people are deep into the wilderness of Sinai. We stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and we agree to receive the Torah, the Teachings that include the mitzvot (commandments) that we will study and follow for the rest of history. God did great deeds for us, and now we make a great commitment to God: 613 commandments! They will shape our lives and our destiny forever.

That’s what we celebrate on Shavuot: the Torah. We celebrate it with late-night study sessions (Tikkun Leil Shavuot) and by eating dairy foods. We say special prayers of praise (Hallel) in synagogue, and remember our dead (Yizkor.)

Why is this chag so poorly known that it is practically a secret holiday? Part of it is that it comes on the heels of Passover. Some of it may be that it comes just as school lets out, and people go on holiday.

However, I think that there’s one other thing at play, something on a much larger scale. If Sukkot was THE Chag in the past, and Passover is the well-known Chag in our present, perhaps Shavuot is the Chag of the Future. Perhaps we have not yet reached the time in Jewish history when we fully appreciate it.

I hope that you will join me this year in celebrating this once and future Chag! Check with your local Jewish institutions about Tikkun Leil Shavuot. If there is some relative you still mourn, consider attending Yizkor services at your synagogue. And if nothing else, have a bit of dairy, perhaps a nice piece of cheesecake! Taste the silky sweetness and think, “this is the taste of Torah!”

Chag sameach Shavuot – Happy festival of Shavuot!

 

A Shavuot Compilation

Image: Cheesecake is a popular Shavuot treat. Photo by Pexels on pixabay.com.

Shavuot Sameach! Happy Feast of Weeks!

Here are some articles from this blog on the Feast of Shavuot:

Shavuot for Beginners

Why I Love Shavuot

Passing the Torah  a poem

What is Shavuot?

Happy Anniversary, Jewish People!

What’s Tikkun Leil Shavuot?

What is Yizkor?

And elsewhere on the Internet:

Shavuot from Judaism 101

Shavuot from My Jewish Learning

Shavuot from ReformJudaism.org

Shavuot from the Jewish Virtual Library

 

What is Shavuot?

Image: A new Jew makes a commitment to a life of Torah. Photo by Linda Burnett.

Shavuot [shav-00-OHT or sh-VOO-us] is coming. Even thought it is a major Jewish holiday, only the more observant Jews will even be aware of it.

That’s a shame. It’s a beautiful holiday – and in real ways, it is the completion of the journey we began at the Passover seder. The trouble is that unlike Passover, it didn’t see as successful a transition to the new realities Jews faced after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

HISTORY Shavuot combines two ancient observances: a festival for the first grain harvest of the summer and the chag, or pilgrimage holiday, celebrated in Temple times. All Jews who were able traveled to Jerusalem to observe the sacrifices and bring the first fruits of their harvests, remembering and celebrating our acceptance of the covenant at Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. The drama and pageantry of the holiday made Shavuot a major event in the Jewish year.

Perhaps the most famous record of Shavout is that in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 2. While that chapter refers to an experience of the disciples that later came to be remembered by Christians as Pentecost, one verse tells us a lot about Jerusalem during Shavuot:

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. – Acts of the Apostles 2:5

Jews from all over the known world gathered in Jerusalem for Shavuot! This tells us that:

  • Jews lived all over the world by the year we now remember as 33 CE and
  • Shavuot was so important, and such a pleasure, that they would travel from Italy, and Spain, and Babylon to attend the festival.

In the Bible, the festival has three names:

  • Chag Shavuot [Festival of Weeks] (Exodus 34:22) because it comes precisely 7 weeks (49 days) after Passover
  • Chag K’tzir [Festival of Reaping] (Exodus 23:16) because it aligns with the barley harvest in Israel
  • Yom HaBikkurim [Day of the First Fruits] (Numbers 28:26) because this was the festival at which farmers would bring the first fruits from their fields to offer in the Temple.

THIS YEAR Shavuot begins at sundown on June 11 in 2016.

OBSERVANCE TODAY Today we observe Shavuot in a number of ways:

  • Counting the Omer – Ever since Passover, we’ve been counting UP to Shavuot, building the anticipation for the holiday. Every night observant Jews say a blessing and announce the “count” of the day. We complete the count on the night before Shavuot.
  • Tikkun Leil Shavuot – How better to celebrate the giving of Torah than to sit up all night and study it? Many Jews gather to study the night of Shavuot.
  • Dairy Foods – It’s traditional to eat dairy meals on Shavuot, since if the law is newly given, there’s not yet time for meat to be kosher.
  • In the Synagogue – We read from the Torah, we recite Hallel (a service of praise) and we have a special Yizkor (mourning) service.  For service times, check synagogue websites or call ahead before the holiday begins.
  • The Book of Ruth is the megillah (scroll) read and studied on Shavuot.
  • Many conversions to Judaism are scheduled for the time around Shavuot, because of the connection with receiving the Torah and the Book of Ruth.