The Sweetness of Torah

Rabbi's Message - May 31, 2022

Rabbi Tina Sobo

This weekend we will celebrate Shavuot, the second of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals.  Agriculturally, it marks the grain harvest of the early summer.  Ritually, it marks the culmination of the Omer, the seven weeks from the Exodus from Egypt to the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the First Fruits offerings were given.  As we conclude the Omer and this period on the calendar, we have also concluded our religious school year and will, as is our tradition, be honoring our Confirmation students who have culminated their learning in our religious school program, though we hope this is just the start in their lifelong Jewish learning!  Please join us on Sunday, June 5 at 10:30am to celebrate Shavuot as our Confirmands, Laila Blumer, Antonio Chaiten, and Adam Emoff help lead our congregational service. 

Confirmation is one of the “newest” of the life cycle rituals in Judaism, only dating back to about 200 years ago.  With the recognition that at b’nei mitzvah age, most 13-year olds are not truly adults, Confirmation was established as a means to preserve tradition and extend it to a time when emerging adults, were closer to adulthood in modern society.  The early Confirmation ceremonies followed tests and affirmation of a student’s religious beliefs, or “confirmed” their acceptance of the mitzvot and Jewish identity as was marked by a b’nei mitzvah.  It is appropriate for this ritual to be associated with Shavuot, as we as a community reaffirm our commitment to Jewish life and learning on the anniversary of receiving, and accepting, the Torah. 

If you’d like to celebrate this year, we certainly encourage you to participate in our congregational service alongside our Confirmands, but that’s not the only way:

Some Jews will pull a Jewish all-nighter – called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, staying up all night to study is supposed to represent an eagerness to receive the Torah and make up for some Israelites who overslept at Sinai and needed Moses’ wake up call before the giving of the Torah; just be sure to set your alarm for services!  The Reform Movement offers some self-guided videos.

Some Jews like to reclaim the agricultural elements of the holiday related to the giving of the first fruits.  You might consider donating food or produce – while not from our own farms, still a much needed act in our world, such as to the Dayton Foodbank.

Another tradition is to eat dairy foods – among other reasons, since the Torah was given on a holiday, and it included laws from the preparation of meat-based foods, the Israelites realized they did not have appropriately prepared meat to eat.  Rather than eat the non-kosherly prepared meat they had, they ate dairy products until after the Festival ended.  So feel free to whip up some of your favorite cheesy casseroles, order pizza (and say the Rabbi told you to!), or check out some great blintz recipes here

May you have a meaningful holiday!

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