Our Torah teaches: “Count the days from Pesach during which the grain offering was brought. And on the day after the seventh week is counted, the fiftieth day itself shall be a festival for the new grain offering.” On that fiftieth day, our ancestors camped before Sinai. On Shavuoth, they were ready to become the free people of God’s covenant. Every night, we count these fifty days as fulfillment of the mitzvah from Torah:
Hineni muchan um’zuman l’kaiyeim mitsvat asei shel sefirat ha’omer. See how ready we are to count the days of the Omer.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָּ אֱלֹ הֵֽינוּ מֵֶֽלֶךְ הָּעוֹלָּם אֲשֶר קִדְשֵָּֽנוּ בְמִצְוֹתָּיו וְצִוֵָּּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָּ עמֶ ר Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kideshanu bemitsvotav vetsivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed is the Eternal our God Ruler of the universe who makes us holy by commandments and commands us to count the omer.
Count in the evening of the first night (28 March / 2 night of Pesach): Ha-yom yom e-chad la-omer. Today is one day of the Omer. Continue every night until Saturday 15 May, the night before Shavuoth.
Together with the learners of our Cheder, we will open the Shavuot Festival with a joyful Service Thursday evening at 18h30. Please join in and support our cheder learners.
Prof. Steven Friedman opens our night of learning with a Shiur about the intention of the Torah: “What the Torah Was Really Meant to Do”. TheShiur will follow the service at 19h30.
At 20h30 we will join thenational night of learning (Tikkun Leil Shavuot) of the SAUPJ (programme see below).
Please note that we use two Zoom sessions on Shavuot evening, the first is for the service and the shiur with Prof. Friedman (http://tiny.cc/BD-Shavuot-1) and the second for the SAUPJ learning night (http://tiny.cc/BD-Shavuot-3). We will also stream all sessions and the service on Facebook and YouTube.
Thursday 28 May * Erev Shavuot Service (18h30) and Shiur with Prof Friedman (19h30)
Brett Kopin, Rabbinic student, Ziegler School, Los Angeles.
“Tattooed Torah Movie”: the story of an Animated movie made recently, following a legendary book by Marvell Ginsburg, which is a powerful resource for Holocaust education for children.
Panel: Rabbi Emma Gottlieb, Temple Israel, CPT.Rabbi Julia Margolis, Beit Luria, JHB.Andrea Kuti, Rabbinic Student, Aleph.
“Kol BaTorah – Isha” – The feminist voice of Torah:Following the prominent Feminist Jewish thinker Judith Plaskow who defines the Feminist revolution in Judaism as Standing again at Sinai, we will hear from panelist their views, in this festival of receiving the Torah, how do they view its feminine aspects and how they bring it about in their professional life.
Panel: Rabbi Greg Alexander, Temple Israel, CPT.Rabbi Adrian M. Schell, Bet David, JHB, Sofia Zway, Rabbinic student H.U.C, Los Angeles.
“Days are coming” – Gaze into the near future for Jewish communities. The panelist will reflect on the transformation we’ve been experiencing, trying to extract lessons we can apply and insights for our conduct.
Sofia Zway, Rabbinic Student, H.U.C. Los Angeles.
The Book of Ruth – How it is the simple acts of Human grace which make the most difference. Sofi Zwai is a South African, graduate of our movement, studying toward a Rabbinic ordination at the HUC.
This coming Sunday we will observe Shavuot, the day we celebrate receiving the Torah. Unique among our holidays, it has no specific mitzvah associated with it. With no shofar, seder, Chanukah candles or sukkah, there is little to grab the attention of all but the most serious of Jews.
It’s precisely because Shavuot celebrates the gift of Torah that there are no specific mitzvot related to the holiday (outside of special sacrifices during Temple times, and perhaps eating cheesecake 😉 ). It is the Torah as a whole that we celebrate. Highlighting the overarching nature of the holiday is the fact there’s no specific date for it. We need specific times to focus on repentance, to celebrate our freedom and to recall our journey through the desert, but Torah itself is to be celebrated and observed every day.
Instead of a specific date, Shavuot is celebrated 50 days after Pesach, serving as the culmination of the Exodus and teaching us that freedom needs a framework so that any member of the society can enjoy it.
It is a mitzvah to reaffirm the covenant on Shavuot. Through the reading of the Ten Commandments at services, which recalls the establishment of the covenant and the contemplation of the importance of Torah and its lifelong study, (talmud-Torah), we renew our commitment to being part of the covenant people,(’am b’rit). As part of our celebration of Shavuot, we have started our adult Ba-Mi programme with Hester and Theresa as the forerunners.
I think there is no better way to show our commitment to the Torah and our Jewish heritage than providing opportunities for each and everyone to engage with the holy scripture and to grow in ones own Jewish identity.
I hope many of you will be inspired by their achievement and I wish them much hatzlacha—success on Sunday.