Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shavuot: May 23 2007

Today, Tuesday, is the eve of the Jewish holiday, Shavuot, the "Feast of Weeks." It takes place on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, so it falls either in late May or in early June. This year, it falls on May 23. (In some Jewish communities, the holiday is celebrated for a two-day period, May 23-24.)

Shavuot marks the conclusion of the counting of the "Omer" (for more about that, see the blog post about the Lag Ba'Omer holiday). It is now fifty days since Passover, and the holiday commemorates how on Mount Sinai the Torah was given to the Jewish people.

In addition to its connection to the Torah and Mount Sinai, Shavuot is also a harvest festival, and is sometimes called the Festival of Reaping or the Day of the First Fruits. When Jewish people worshipped at the Temple in Jerusalem, they would bring the "Bikkurim" ("first fruits") to the Temple as an offering.

In modern times, there are a variety of special holiday customs associated with Shavuot, including the the reading of the Book of Ruth at morning services - a book with special associations for the harvest and harvesters. Dairy foods, such as cheese blintzes (yum!), are traditional fare for Shavuot. You can read more about the modern observances of Shavuot in the wikipedia article.

Since the reading of the book of Ruth is a Shavuot tradition, I thought I would include this lovely depiction of Ruth as the image for this post! You can read the Book of Ruth online - if you are not familiar with this beautiful Bible story, it's definitely worth your time today.

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