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Virtual Shavuot Box

Shavuot begins on Sunday night, May 16. Our Virtual Shavuot Box holds many ways to help you celebrate this holiday. 

The holiday of Shavuot falls on Sunday night, May 16, 2021.

Seven weeks after Passover, we mark the festival of Shavuot (“Weeks” or “Pentecost”) — also known in our tradition as z’man matan toratenu — “The Time of the Giving of Our Torah.” While the holiday’s Biblical origins lie in an agricultural harvest celebration, in our time it has become primarily a commemoration and reenactment of the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai to Moses and the Israelites. On Passover, we were physically freed from slavery; on Shavuot, our freedom is given purpose — we are free in order to serve God according to the dictates of the Torah. Shavuot is celebrated with an all-night study session called tikkun leil Shavuot. It is also common to eat cheesecake and other dairy foods, since the Torah is likened to milk and honey. 

 “Torah” has multiple meanings within Jewish tradition. It refers to the content of the first five books of the Bible (Humash). It refers to the scroll upon which the five books are written and used in Jewish liturgy and ritual. But Torah is also an expansive term, referring to the chain of interpretation of Jewish texts, to the entire unfolding body of Jewish tradition, and to the commitment to Torah as a basis of living one’s life in a way that manifests holiness. To accept the Torah today means associating with the Jewish people, agreeing to engage seriously with Jewish tradition, and working toward reinvigorating Jewish life and practice.1

  • 1. Adapted from A Guide to Jewish Practice, Volume 2—Shabbat and Holidays. The Guide may be ordered from the Reconstructionist Press.

Shavuot Resources

News and Blogs

Ways Into Torah: Multiple Spiritual Intelligences

On the brink of Shavuot, Rabbi Vivie Mayer shares insights into the concept of multiple intelligences as it applies to receiving Torah.

News

The Book of Ruth: A Torah of Lovingkindness in the Face of Death

Rabbi David Gedzelman explores the Book of Ruth with an eye toward structures of covenantal openness, societal protection and compassion towards the other.

Spoken Audio

Ruth, The First Convert: A Model of Welcome

The story of Ruth, read on Shavuot, provides a powerful model for welcoming newcomers to the Jewish people. 

Article

Shavuot: The Harvest Festival of Torah

Reconstructionist Jews believe that the Jewish people created the Torah and the Torah, in turn, has created and recreated the Jewish people throughout history. Shavuot, the festival of giving and receiving the Torah, should be central to our communal life. 

Article

Broken Tablets

A study sheet on the two sets of tablets in the Sinai/Golden Calf story.

Document

On Torah & Wilderness

Study sheet on the significance of having received the Torah at Mt. Sinai, in the wilderness.

Document

Shavuot Theology

How are we to understand the traditional claim that the Torah is divinely revealed? And what exactly is the Torah that was revealed? Rabbi Jacob Staub examines Reconstructionist theology through the lens of the holiday of Shavuot. This article is excerpted from the Guide to Jewish Practice. 

Article

Here, There and Everywhere — Three Views of Revelation for Shavuot

When we speak of the “revelation” of Torah, what do we mean? Elsie Stern shared three perspectives from traditional Jewish texts, viewed with a Reconstructionist eye.

Spoken Audio

The Reconstructionist Network