Posts Tagged With: shavuot

Israel Mourns and Celebrates

Shalom Y’all:

These past few weeks were momentous ones for the State of Israel. On April 12, Israel celebrated Yom HaShoah, which commemorates the death of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem Israel Hall Of Names

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Hall of Names

 

On April 18, Yom Hazikaron, Israel Memorial Day, Israelis remembered Israeli soldiers missing in action, those who lost their lives fighting for freedom for the State of Israel, and terrorist victims, felled by forces who wish to see the end of the Jewish State.

Garden of The Missing In Action, Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel

President Rivlin pays his respects at the Garden of The Missing In Action, Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel

 

This was immediately followed, on April 19, by the joyous celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 70th Independence Day. 

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, Flag Dance

Flag Dance performed by Bet Shemesh students in honor of Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day

Israel Independence Day Flags

Israel flags and sign commemorating Israel Independence Day.

 

Lag B’omer with its festive bonfires was on May 3.   

Lag B'Omer Bonfire, Jerusalem, Israel

Lag B’Omer Bonfire

 

On May 12, Israel won the Eurovision Song contest. See the winning song, Toy,  by Netta Barzilai below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CziHrYYSyPc

 

On May 13 Israelis rejoiced on Yom Yerushalayim, which celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem and the ability of Jews to visit the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. 

Hassid praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

Hassid praying at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

 

On May 14, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, followed two days later by Guatemala and on May 21 by Paraguay. Unfortunately, on the day of the United States Embassy move, 50,000 Palestinians engaged in very violent riots, including attempts to breach the security wall separating Gaza from Israel, throwing Molotov cocktails, sending flaming kites towards Israel, etc. These acts, which endangered the lives of Israeli citizens, resulted in the unfortunate death of 62 Palestinians, at least 53 of whom were members of terrorist organizations. Let’s hope Hamas will end the violence so peace can be restored.

US Embassy, Jerusalem, Israel

US Embassy, Jerusalem, Israel

 

After nightfall on May 19 and on May 20, Israel celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot, Pentecost, on which Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It’s customary to learn Torah throughout the night. In Jerusalem, tens of thousands finish their nightime of study by walking to the Kotel, Western Wall, before dawn, to pray the morning prayer at sunrise. This practice began in 1967, when the army regained control of the Kotel a week before Shavuot and opened it to Jewish visitors on Shavuot. That year over 200,00 Jews came to pray at the site that had been off limits to them since 1948. Since then thousands of Jews continue to walk to the Kotel every Shavuot.

Crowds praying at dawn at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

Crowds praying at dawn at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

 

Now its back to the regular routine: for elementary, junior high and high school students until the end of school year in June; college students finish in June unless they they take classes in the summer semester, which ends in August; and for many employees until August, when most Israelis take their vacations.

The three week period of mourning for the Temple begins on July 1 and Tisha B’Av, the fast day for the two Temples, begins the night of  July 21.

The Jewish High Holidays are early this year. The first night of Rosh Hashanah is on September 9.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Holocaust, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel, Israel Independence Day, Israel Memorial Day Yom Hazikaron, Jerusalem, Jerusalem Day, Jewish, Jewish Blog, Shavout, Video, Western Wall Kotel, Yom Haatzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Yerushalayim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Shavuot?

Spring Flowers mini This year, 2018, Shavuot falls on May 20 and May 21. How much do you know about Shavuot? Want to know more? Here are 10 questions and answers to help augment your Shavout knowledge.

Q. What does Shavuot mean?

A. Shavuot means weeks. It marks the end of the seven week countdown between Passover and Shavuot. Shavout commemorates the day G-d gave the 10 commandments and the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. Shavuot also means Oaths. The Jewish people swore allegiance to G-d and he pledged his devotion to the Jewish people.

Q. Does Shavuot have any other names?

A. Yes. The Torah has three different names for Shavuot: Chag Shavuot, the Festival of Shavuot; Yom HaBikkurim- the Day of the First Fruits and Chag Hakatzir- the Festival of the Harvest. In the written record of the Oral Law it is called Atzeret- Restrain and in the prayers recited during Shavuot it is called Zeman Matan Torahteinu- the time of the giving of the Torah.

Q. What do these names refer to?

A. Shavuot is the only holiday described in the Torah which does not have a specific Jewish month and day ascribed to it. The Torah says only that Shavuot should be celebrated 50 days after the second day of Passover. This is because Passover and Shavuot are connected-  the purpose of the exodus from Egypt was to create a free Jewish people who would serve G-d and the way to do was by following the Torah which was given on Mount Sinai.                

Yom HaBikkurim- the Day of the First Fruits. In the days of  the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish farmer would tie a thread around the first fruits to start budding. The farmer would then bring these fruits in a basket to the Temple in Jerusalem starting from Shavuot and ending Chanukah.

Chag HaKatzir- the Harvest Festival, refers to the wheat harvest season which occurs around the time of Shavuot.

Atzeret- Restrain (from work)-  This name reminds us not to do work on Shavuot.

Zman Matan Torahteinu- the time of giving of the Torah- Shavuot commemorates the receipt of the Torah from G-d at Mount Sinai.

Q. Isn’t Shavuot also called Pentecost?

A. Yes,. Pentecost is the Greek name for Shavuot and means the 50th day. However, Pentecost also refers to the Christian Holiday of Pentecost which occurs 50 days after Easter and celebrates an occurrence in the life of Jesus.

Q. What are the Shavuot rituals?

A. Women and girls light candles to usher in the Holiday. On the first night of Shavuot it is customary to stay up all night learning Torah. On the first day of Shavuot, everyone goes to the synagogue to hear the Book of Ruth read from a scroll and the Ten Commandments read from the Torah. On the second day of Shavuot, Yitzkor- the prayer for the departed, is recited. Work is not permitted during the Holiday.

Q. What is the Book of Ruth?

A.  One of the books of the Bible which is named after the central figure, Ruth. It  tells the story of a Moabite woman, Ruth, who converts to Judaism and becomes part of the Jewish people.

Q. Why is the Book of Ruth read on Shavuot?

A. Ruth is the story of a person accepting the Torah and becoming part of the Jewish people. This is what all Jews did on Mount Sinai. Reading the story reminds us to rededicate ourselves to the Torah and the Jewish people.                                                  

Shavuot takes place during the harvest season and the story of Ruth takes place during the harvest season.                                              

Ruth was the ancestor of King David whose birth and death were on Shavuot.

Q.  Do we eat any special foods on Shavuot?

A. The Jewish tradition is to eat dairy foods on Shavuot, such as cheese blintzes, cheesecake, quiches, casseroles, etc.

Q. Why do we eat dairy food on Shavuot?

A. When the Jews received the Torah on Mount Sinai, they were not permitted to eat meat and dairy food together. So many people eat a separate dairy meal and a separate meat meal to commerate this. 

When the Jews received the Torah, they were only allowed to  eat meat which was slaughtered according to Jewish law. Since it was the Sabbath and since no such meat was available, they ate a dairy meal instead.

The numerical value of the Hebrew word for milk, chalav, is 40. This corresponds to the 40 days Moses spent on Mount Sinai before receiving the Torah.

The Torah is compared to milk.

Q. Are there any other traditions on Shavuot?

A. It is customary to decorate the synagogue and the house with greenery and flowers in honor of Shavuot. The most common reason given for the custom is that sheep and cattle were not allowed to graze facing Mount Sinai when theTorah was given. However, since the Torah was given in a desert, a miracle must have occurred, temporarily turning the desert area into one filled with greenery.

Other explanations include: the fact that Moses was placed in a reed basket in the Nile on the second day of Shavuot; a way of remembering  that the custom  was to decorate the baskets of the first fruits brought to the Temple on Shavuot with flowers and greenery. 

                                                       HAPPY SHAVUOT!

Categories: Jewish Holidays, religion, Shavout | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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