Shavuot (Hebrew: שבועות) is the festival of weeks (Pentecost) falling on the fiftieth day after the first day of Passover. Shavuot celebrates the Israelites receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is one of the three "foot festivals", as well as Passover and Succot (Tabernacles), in which the Jewish men used to go by foot to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, Israel.
Shavuot is also called Chag Habikurim, Festival of the First Fruit. This commemorates Jewish inhabitants of Israel bringing their first fruits to the Temple and offered sacrifices. Shavuot is observed on the 6th of Sivan (May/June) for one day in Israel and for two in the Diaspora.
- On Shavuot, it is customary to adorn the Synagogue and home with flowers and green plants. This is in memory of the foliage around Mount Sinai
- On Shavuot, it is customary to eat milk products. Many Jewish houses, replace the normal meat/chicken dinners with a festivity of milk products, including cheese cake, blintzes, cheeses and ice cream. This custom commemorates the acts of the children of Israel at Sinai. Having received the Law, they understood that their dishes were no longer Kosher, having been used for milk and meat together. They also were in need of teaching on the intricate details of ritual slaughter (Shechitah). Lacking these, they opted to eat only milk products.
- It is customary in Orthodox and some traditional communities to partake in Bible/Jewish Law lessons throughout the eve and night of Shavuot. This is in order to accept the Torah for their generation. In Jerusalem, many people learn the whole night through until dawn and then walk to the Western Wall at sunrise and pray the morning and festival prayer from around 5-8 am. Thereafter, they go home for a hearty festive breakfast and then sleep the rest of the morning.
- The Book of Ruth is read in the Synagogue in the Morning of Shavuot. Ruth converted to Judaism and it is her descendant, David, who became King in Israel. The book of Ruth demonstrates that achieving a high level in Judaism, is neither ethnic nor genetic.
- It is customary to wear new clothes on Shavuot. In the seven weeks (the Omer) preceding Shavuot, people refrain from purchasing major clothing items.
Shavuot Top Events and Things to Do
- Visit Mount Sinai (Egypt) or Israel.
- Read the Book of Exodus, Joshua or Ruth in the Bible.
- Watch the epic film Moses with Burt Lancaster, available for viewing on Youtube.