SHAVUOT – May 15th & 16th
Excerpts taken from interfaithfamily.com
Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai. The date of Shavuot is directly linked to that of Passover. "Shavuot" is the Hebrew word for "weeks." The Torah tells us to count seven full weeks after the second day of Passover to Shavuot. In ancient times, the Israelites were an agricultural people who brought sheaves of grain as gifts to the Temple for these seven weeks. On the fiftieth day, Shavuot, they brought loaves of bread made out of the new grain.
The holiday is also called Hag HaBikkurim (Hebrew for Holiday of the First Fruit) as it marks the beginning of the fruit harvest when the first ripe fruits were brought to the Temple as an offering of thanksgiving.
This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the Giving of the Torah. On Passover, the Jewish people were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.
According to Jewish law, Shavuot is celebrated in Israel for one day and in the Diaspora (outside of Israel) for two days. Reform Jews celebrate only one day, even in the Diaspora. Besides its significance as the day on which the Torah was revealed by God to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai (which includes the Ten Commandments), Shavuot is also connected to the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the harvest lasted seven weeks and was a time of gladness. It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest, just as the eighth day of Sukkot was the concluding festival of the fruit harvest. During the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, an offering of two loaves of bread from the wheat harvest was made on Shavuot.
Dairy foods such as cheesecake, cheese blintzes, cheese kugel and cheese ravioli are eaten on Shavuot. One of the reasons given for this is that the Torah is compared to milk by King Solomon.
On Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth which has a special meaning for those who, like Ruth, are not Jewish but are the partner of a Jew and part of a Jewish family. We know very little about Ruth’s family of origin, but we do know she chose to leave her family and travel with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to be part of her husband’s people after he died. There may be modern day Ruths in your community whose stories echo in some way the difficult choice that Ruth made to follow Naomi when they promised to raise Jewish children. Shavuot is a wonderful time to honor them and to express your gratitude for this gift they give to Judaism!
Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. If you would like to be added to our interfaith eNewsletter distribution list – please call or email me.
Linda Kanner, LCSW
Community Activities and Events
May 9, 2013
Dairy Meals Can Be Fun and Tasty
Beth El Synagogue
On Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 7:00 pm, the Werner Lecture Fund of Beth El Synagogue in East Windsor will be sponsoring, 'Dairy Meals Can Be Fun and Tasty.' The cooking class will include homemade blintzes, cheesecake and a variety of quiche. The fee is $10 and includes all supplies and culinary treats. Reservations are required. Please contact the synagogue office for details. Beth El Synagogue is located at 50 Maple Stream Road, East Windsor, 609-443-4454 www.bethel.net.
June 13, 2013
L'Dor v'Dor Challah Making
Beth El Synagogue
On Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm, the Werner Lecture Fund of Beth El Synagogue in East Windsor will be sponsoring, 'L'Dor v'Dor Challah Making.' Join us as two of our own master challah bakers teach us how to make Challah as they remember their challah mentors. The fee is $7. For details and to R.S.V.P by May 5, 2013, please contact the synagogue office. Beth El Synagogue is located at 50 Maple Stream Road, East Windsor, 609-443-4454 www.bethel.net.
Introduction to Judaism
Board of Rabbis of Princeton Mercer Bucks
Are you interested in learning more about Judaism? Perhaps you have always wanted to learn about your heritage but never had the time. Perhaps you are thinking of coming back to Judaism after being away from it. Perhaps you know of someone who is thinking of converting to Judaism but needs a way to get started. Our Introduction to Judaism course is designed for people who are coming back to Judaism or coming to it for the first time. In 17 weeks, we will touch on every important aspect of Jewish life: the Shabbat and holidays, life-cycle events, the Bible and Rabbinic literature, how to make a Jewish home, and much more. The classes will be taught by Rabbis, Cantors and other Jewish professionals from the Mercer-Lower Bucks area. Everyone is welcome, and the cost is minimal. Give yourself the gift of Jewish knowledge.
If you are interested in the next available session, contact Rabbi Eric Wisnia at (609) 799-9401 firstname.lastname@example.org
www.Interfaithfamily.com: Online resource for interfaith families exploring Jewish life.
www.half-jewish.net: The Half-Jewish Network - Welcoming the adult children of Jews intermarried to people of other faiths and cultures.
www.myjewishlearning.com: Trans-denominational website of Jewish information & education for learners of all backgrounds.
www.jopp.org: The Jewish Outreach Partnership. In Philadelphia. Their community outreach & education program, "Making Connections," provides home study kits on Judaism.
www.joi.org: Jewish Outreach Institute - dedicated to creating a more open and welcoming Judaism. Has been a leader in the development of Jewish community-based outreach programming. See also their "Mother's Circle" program for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children.
www.intermarriages.com: Jewish converts & Interfaith network. In Philadelphia.
www.buildingjewishbriges.org: Building Jewish Bridges: Outreach to Interfaith couples and families. In Oakland, CA.
www.FJMC.org: The Federation of Jewish Men's Club's, Inc. - The male volunteer arm of the Conservative Movement. Their "Keruv" initiative seeks to welcome interfaith families within their congregations. In NYC.
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