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The festival of Shavuot (“Weeks” or “Pentecost”) is also known in our tradition as z’man matan toratenu—“The Time of the Giving of Our Torah.” While the holiday’s 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. “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

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The Reconstructionist movement’s Shavuot All Night Learning is a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot (an all-night study of Torah in its broadest sense.) It will bring together teachers, performers, learners, students, creatives and seekers across the globe into each other’s homes to celebrate the holiday.

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

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Exodus 19:1-20:23

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

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Jennifer Janes may live in the same city she had as a teen, but she’s traveled a long road to find her spiritual home in Reconstructionist Judaism and Congregation Beth Am in San Antonio, Texas.

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

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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. 

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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. 

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.

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