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Laying down the law: Jews celebrate Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks

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Beth_Yaacov_Torah (2)

Torah scroll at Beth Yaacov Synagogue, Geneva. Public domain via Wikimedia.

Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, began at sundown yesterday (May 30). Shavuot celebrates the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The holiday is the third of the three Jewish “pilgrim festivals,” along with Passover and Sukkot, meant to recall the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt and subsequent wanderings in the Sinai desert. Shavuot follows Passover by seven weeks — a “week of weeks.”

Shavuot is actually considered a triple holiday. Besides the Sinai event, Shavuot also marks the harvesting of wheat in Israel and the ripening of the first fruit in the Holy Land. Traditional Jews decorate their homes and synagogues with plants and flowers.

Synagogues observe Shavuot also with the reading of the Ten Commandments. In addition to the regular holiday service, congregations read the biblical story of Ruth, who converted to Judaism and became the grandmother of King David. Some scholars believe David was born and died on Shavuot.

In recent years, Reform and Conservative synagogues have increasingly held confirmation ceremonies on Shavuot, as their young men and women take their place in the Jewish community.

— JAMES D. DAVIS

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Written by Jim Davis

May 30, 2017 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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