THE MEANING OF THE HOLIDAY
Shavuot, also known as the “Feast of Weeks,” was originally celebrated as a Thanksgiving for the “First Fruits.” The Torah refers to Shavuot as “Chag HaBikkurim,” the festival of the first fruits, which our ancestors observed by bringing offerings of the best produce to the Temple. During the period leading up to Shavuot, we count each day beginning on the Second Night of Passover. This counting, “Sefirat Ha’Omer,” highlighted our ancestors’ hopes that Shavuot, the end of the Omer counting, would yield a bountiful crop. Coincidently, the Omer period encompasses many of the tragedies of our people over the generations. Therefore, it is customary to prohibit weddings during a specific part of the seven weeks as a sign of national mourning.
In addition to being an agricultural festival, Shavuot is also a celebration of the Jewish Peoples’ receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Although the Torah does not identify Shavuot in this context, the Talmud has an undisputed tradition that the Torah was given at this time. Therefore, we stay up studying on the first night of the festival, and the Ten Commandments are read in the Synagogue on the first day.
SCHEDULE OF SHAVUOT SERVICES
Tuesday, May 30
Light Meal 8:00 PM
Ma’ariv/Service to Welcome the Festival of Shavuot 9:00 PM
The Tikkun Leyl Shavuot – An evening of study with the clergy and members of the congregation will begin shortly after the conclusion of the service.
Wednesday, May 31
Festival Service and Special Procession of the “First Fruits” 9:30 AM
Mincha/Ma’ariv Services 7:45 PM
Thursday, June 1
Festival Service/Yizkor 9:30 AM
Mincha/Ma’ariv/Conclusion of Festival 8:30 PM
WEDNESDAY MORNING, MAY 31
SPECIAL CEREMONY FOR OUR YOUNGEST CHILDREN
In a large congregation such as ours, we are privileged to celebrate the births, namings and of many new additions to our families. Shavuot, as a Festival of the Harvest, is a uniquely appropriate time to welcome all our new arrivals, collectively, as they join our people, who first became a people, at Mt. Sinai.
Therefore, we invite and encourage all families with their children 6 years and younger (infants too, of course) to be in the synagogue by about 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, May 31 for a special procession and ceremony to welcome our children to the covenant as the Ten Commandments are chanted from the Torah.
Each child will receive an apple and have the opportunity to see the open Torah. This should be a beautiful opportunity to express our thankfulness to God for the bounty of our children. We hope many children, their parents and grandparents will attend.