By Dylan Kim and Paloma Burgraff
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Connection to Judaism
Shavuot, also known as Pentecost is the second pilgrim festival. It is an agricultural holiday
that commemorates the beginning of the wheat harvest. It is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim
(the festival of the first fruits). This holiday during rabbinic times became associated with
the giving of the Torah at mount Sinai to Moses, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu
(the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah). Shavuot occurs the 50th day or seven weeksafter sheaf offered during passover.
Rituals, Practices, and Customs
There are many rituals reformed throughout Shavuot. As preparation for Shavuot, the Synagogue is decorated with fruits and flowers for when the first fruits of the harvest and 2 loaves of bread from wheat from the harvest are brought to the synagogue. It is customary for women and girls to light candles to usher in the holiday during the first and second evenings and is also customary to stay up all night on the first day learning the Torah. On the second day of Shavuot, a Yizkor memorial service is recited. Some communities recite the Book of Ruth publicly, for all of this is customary for the celebration. More customs take place such as all men, women and children should go to the synagogue on the first day of Shavuot to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. During Shavuot no work will be performed, special meals are eaten, mostly dairy foods are consumed, and people who celebrate this holiday may only eat kosher meat.
Did You Know?
It is customary to wear new clothes on Shavuot. In the seven weeks (the Omer) preceding Shavuot, people refrain from purchasing major clothing items.
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