Shavuot Quick Facts - ZA

AKA NameChag Habikurim, Festival of Weeks
HashtagsCompiled on#Shavuot
Related Hashtags#Torah, #Jewish, #Israel, #Jews, #HappyShavuot, #Kosher
2024 Date11 June 2024
2025 Date2 June 2025


Shavuot (Start) in
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Shavuot History

Shavuot, also known as the "Feast of Weeks," celebrates the moment when G-d gave the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. This day has strong agricultural associations, as it marks the conclusion of the harvesting of the winter grain and the beginning of the summer fruit season. The origins of Shavuot can be traced back to the time of the Exodus when the Hebrew people received the Ten Commandments and the laws that would become the foundation of their faith and way of life. Shavuot has evolved into a celebration involving various customs such as studying the Torah, reciting special prayers, and participating in festive meals with dairy-based dishes - symbolizing the innate purity of the Torah.

Typically, Shavuot falls on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, which corresponds to late May or early June in the Gregorian calendar. As the African continent flourishes during this time of reawakening and rejuvenation, South Africans can take pride in their own special connection to the collective worldwide observance of Shavuot.

Shavuot facts

  • 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.
  • The word "Shavuot" means "weeks" in Hebrew, referring to the seven weeks of the counting of the Omer between the two holidays.
  • It is customary for South African Jews to participate in all-night Torah study sessions on Shavuot, known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot. These sessions typically include the study of Jewish texts and group discussions.
  • A popular dessert for South African Shavuot celebrations is Milktart, a traditional South African dessert made of pastry crust filled with a milk-based custard.

Top things to do in South Africa for Start of Shavuot

  • Visit Mount Sinai (Egypt) or Israel.
  • Celebrate Shavuot by watching a move about Jewish culture in South Africa. Some of our picks include:
    1. The Giant is Falling (2016) – Directed by Rehad Desai, this documentary features the South African Jewish community's activism in the country's political and social life.
    2. Jewish Roots of the Cape (2012) – This short documentary by Andrea Frankenthal showcases the history of the Jewish community in Cape Town, South Africa.
    3. I'm Still Here: A South African Jewish Journey (2012) – This documentary follows a South African Jewish family's story from Lithuania to South Africa, giving a glimpse of the unique South African Jewish experience.
  • Participate in Shavuot at the South African Jewish Museum (SAJM). The SAJM in Cape Town often organizes events during Shavuot, such as talks, special exhibitions, workshops, and movie screenings related to the festival. Visitors can learn more about the historical and cultural aspects of Shavuot and engage with the local Jewish community.

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