Shavuot is a Hebrew word meaning “weeks” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Shavuot, like so many other Jewish holidays began as an ancient agricultural festival, marking the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. Shavuot was distinguished in ancient times by bringing crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Shavuot, also known as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, dates from biblical times, and helps to explain the holiday’s name, “Weeks.” The Torah tells us it took precisely forty-nine days for our ancestors to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai (the same number of days as the Counting of the Omer ) where they were to receive the Torah. Thus, Leviticus 23:21 commands: “And you shall proclaim that day (the fiftieth day) to be a holy convocation!” The name Shavuot, “Weeks,” then symbolizes the completion of a seven-week journey.
Our Shavuot celebration includes a special service led by our Kabbalat Torah Class (formerly known as Confirmation). Kabbalat Torah means “the receiving of Torah.” Throughout the service members of the class share their thoughts on a variety of topics as they remind us that although Torah was given to us on Shavuot, we continue to receive it throughout our lives. As part of the service, the class will chant the special Torah reading for Shavuot which includes the Ten Commandments. It is an inspiring service and the community is encouraged to come and celebrate this milestone in the life of our Jewish teens.