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October 9, 2015 | 26th Tishrei 5776


See also Festival Services

  1. Jun 2006 Digest 097

    Shavuot is my favorite holiday, because of what it symbolizes, and it makes me sad to see people ignoring it, perhaps because it doesn't have "cool stuff" (seder, props, etc) and because it's only one day. I'm guessing that the timing of Confirmation was an attempt to get people to come to a Shavuot service, but what can we do to make the day stand on its own?

    At [our congregation] we have an evening service (with Confirmation), then Tikkun Leil Shavuot (late-night Torah study), and a morning service with Yizkor. This mix appeals to three different (sometimes-overlapping) interest groups: The evening service mostly draws Confirmation families; the morning service draws mostly people who want to say Yizkor (and is small); and the tikkun draws most of our regular Torah-study group. Do we need another type of activity, or do we need to build better connections among these? Lately we've seen a few of the Confirmation students stay for the tikkun, which is a good start.

    860 households

  2. Jun 2006 Digest 097

    …How might we adapt the counting of the Omer in a way that would be meaningful to Jews living in 21st century (58th century?) America?... I envision a weekly gathering of some sort that would have a common theme and which would build in intensity to a culmination of some sort on Shavuot. (A side benefit could be reinstituting services on the 2nd day of Pesach.) I am not even sure what the balance ought to be between having a ritual/educational purpose as opposed to a social purpose of some sort…

    570 Family Units

  3. Jun 2006 Digest 097

    Transatlantically, the British Reform machzor for the Pilgrim Festivals (Shalosh Regalim), called Forms of Prayer for Jewish Worship, 1995, ed. Jonathan Magonet, has a remarkably rich, resourceful "Calendar of Readings for the Omer" (pp. 655-718). The Northwood Pinner Liberal Synagogue, also British, starts its Tikkun Leyl Shavu'ot with a delicious and most congenial all-milchig Yom Tov meal with its variety of wines and cheeses and with readings and songs from a Haggadah-type manual, followed by a night of study.

  4. Jun 2006 Digest 098

    Why just do a week? Why not make a point of counting the Omer? I've seen some congregations do this and choose one principle, theme, or saying to study/discuss each day. While it need not be in a face-to-face meeting every day, it would be done via an e-mail list so that those not interested in schlepping to the synagogue each day could still take part.

    We're talking about the 50-day journey of a scared people across harsh and often hostile territory. Tradition holds that we should consider each of ourselves as having personally made the journey--and continues by saying that every Jewish soul past, present, and future was at Sinai to personally receive the Torah. It couldn't hurt to foster a little of that feeling in our own congregations.

  5. Jun 2006 Digest 098

    There was a group that met at our temple weekly this year for the counting of the Omer. They followed the sefirot model, and when they met they discussed how to relate counting of the Omer to refining one's personal self, largely through trying to change one's behavior in everyday life situations. A lot of the material was gleaned from various Web sites. Participants found it

    very meaningful. Activities of this nature have been sponsored by our Sisterhood or Adult Education Committee, and have not been Ritual Committee projects.

    Our temple also holds a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot in conjunction with two other area synagogues (one Conservative and one Reform). So far as I know, this is done jointly on the assumption that two of the three congregations would not be able to draw enough attendees on their own. It is also enriched with the input of more into the content. Our Ritual Committee is not involved; the rabbis and cantors organize the program. It opens with refreshments/socializing, and then the study runs from about 8:30--11pm. Rabbis or cantors from the participating congregations each conduct a segment, generally on a unifying seasonal theme. People feel free to leave early if they so desire. (Years and years ago there was a lay-led allnighter which was given meeting space at the local JCC, but the people responsible for organizing and carrying it out are long since gone).


  6. Jun 2006 Digest 098

    …For the past two years together with our local Conservative congregation, we have had a very well attended Tikkun Leil Shavuot. Other than candle lighting, we do not do an evening service. Participants are given choices of 50-minute sessions that they will attend. Notice that between each session, there is Shavuot (milchig) food. For us this works in place of Confirmation, and our attendance has been very good… [We find the people to lead the sessions] from [among] the two congregations and one university professor. We are a Jewish community of only about 3,000 Jews.

  7. Jun 2006 Digest 098

    There is a lovely workbook titled The Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer by Rabbi Simon Jacobson. It is published by Meaningful Life Center (, 800-363-6464). It utilizes the principals of Sefirot, assigning to each week, and each day of that week, one of the seven sefirot (divine emotional attributes) in a path toward personal refinement. There are questions and exercises to explore for each day. It's really very cool.

    Our congregation combines resources with another, local Conservative congregation to create a Tikkun Leil for Shavuot. Various rabbis, cantors and educators lead teaching sessions throughout the night that are thought provoking, enriching and fun. An evening service precedes this.

    Since the custom is to eat dairy products on Shavuot, our temple also hosts an ice-cream oneg following the Friday service that is near the holiday, which is particularly fun for families.

    Confirmation is usually held the week before Shavuot.

    1200 families

  8. Jun 2006 Digest 098

    [At our congregation] we run our own Tikkun Leil Shavuot program each year and have been doing so since the URJ first suggested programming in the late 1990s. It…has varied in content and style each year. Some years we have adapted one of the many program ideas that URJ compiled. If you have not seen them, check the out at

    Other years we have created our own--study, films, discussions, and hands on programs.

    This past year we decided to create a Beit Midrash, beginning a process of chevruta study that we will continue to use at various "adult learning Shabbat" evenings throughout the year. We chose to use already developed materials from CAJE--the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education ( They have developed Beit Midrash materials--short pieces of texts with guiding questions on a given topic (including heaven and earth, love, generations, holiness, body, study). The texts are designed for the study pairs to be able to move from one to another based upon what questions they raise as they study. The materials are paperbacks so the cost is minimal.

    Confirmation is, for us, celebrated on the nearest Shabbat to Shavuot.


  9. Jun 2006 Digest 099

    I suggest one of the problems celebrating Shavuot is that some, if not many, Reform Jews reject the authorized significance of this holy day. I once asked a group of my Torah Study friends if they believed God revealed His Law at Sinai, and not one in the group did. I then asked how they felt about the concept that the Israelites, we Jews, began to hear God and His Laws at Sinai, and we have been struggling, God-wrestling, to hear them ever since. Almost everyone in the group agreed to this concept. The traditional belief is that we Jews passively (although reluctantly) received and accepted the Law at Sinai, and it is therefore antithetical to the version I offered to the group. Yet, the group rejected the official explanation. The version I offered the group is compatible with [one offered in the writings of Rabbi Lawrence Kushner's]. I suggest we rethink the purpose of this holy day.

    525 units

  10. Jun 2006 Digest 099

    One of the Biblical Bases of Shavuot is The Offering of the First Fruits. Kibbutz tradition is to make a parade of all the tractors, loaders, wagons, lots of hay (as it's the beginning of the wheat harvest, too), a few newborn calves, kids, lambs (if there are), etc.

    If you can't arrange a hay-ride, you can still do "first fruits"--have members bring books published, stores opened, paintings, music, etc., and come up on stage and say a few words into the microphone, accompanied by some good music. Follow that with a service, a milchig buffet, and a square dance. Or not a square dance, but some good music. Finally, study "Torah" through the night.

    Why did I write [Torah with quotation marks]? Because some members won't want to teach from traditional texts, but could easily fill up an hour with a good lesson on the ethical side of their field of expertise (poetry from the English teacher, etc). It only takes five or six lessons to fill up the rest of the night.

    If you can't finish up with Shacharit at first light (I've only actually done that twice over the years, and it's tiring), don't just let it dribble out until there are two of you left reading, take everyone outside and look at the stars, and read the blessing G!d gives to Abraham about "as numerous as the stars in the sky", and sing a song….


  11. Jun 2006 Digest 100

    I disagree that we need to rethink the purpose of Shavuot as it is a fundamental holiday. Perhaps we need to discuss and re-educate ourselves concerning its significance.


  12. Jun 2006 Digest 100

    I recommended we re-think Shavuot because the services are poorly attended. In my opinion, the attendance of the service is the proof of the perceived value of the service. If only a small percentage of congregants attend the service, then the majority does not identify value in the service. People vote with their feet. Perhaps, the people who do not attend the service do not see value in any religious service, or in a Shavuot service, or in the Law, or in The Revelation, or in revelation, or in receiving revelation. Perhaps they identify Shavuot in some other way that does not appear valuable for them. My experience tells me almost every adult congregant knows what Shavuot is and means, so I do not conclude re-education will be effective. I believe there has been a paradigm shift regarding the way Jews believe, and that is the reason why the Shavuot and other services are somewhat empty. On the other hand, if you or anyone has specific ideas about re-education I would love to hear them.

    525 units

  13. Jul 2006 Digest 116

    Our small congregation has observed Shavuot in various ways--everything from discussion and dramatic readings of the Book of Ruth; to sitting around and eating cheesecake while watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, followed by a discussion of the dedication it takes to commit to a culture as well as a religion.

  14. Jan 2007 Digest 021
    In the Washington area, in recent years, we have seen an interesting development--on Erev Shavuot. Three congregations--one Reform, one Conservative, and one Orthodox start services etc., ca. 8 p.m. in their respective shuls. At about 11 p.m. all join together at the Conservative congregation, where study sessions led by the various Rabbonim last till 3 a.m.--all then move across the street to the Orthodox Congregation where the study sessions continue through Shacharit. Don't know how many stick it out all night, but the concept has possibilities.


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