Shavuot means "weeks," referring to the seven weeks that are counted from the second day of Passover up to the holiday of Shavuot. This year, Erev Shavuot will be celebrated on Saturday evening, May 23, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with two Study Sessions, traditional refreshments, and a ceremony in the Sanctuary where we will hear the Ten Command-ments chanted from the Torah and read together a "Ketubah" – marriage contract – reconfirming the Covenant between God and Israel.
Other names for Shavuot are:
The Time of the Giving of Our Torah (Zman Matan Torahteinu). This is the holiday celebrating our receiving the Torah from God. It is the culmination of the seven weeks of counting the Omer beginning at Passover. The Children of Israel needed time to shed the slave mentality of Egypt and ready themselves for the responsibility of accepting the laws of the Torah.
First-Fruits Day (Yom Habikkurim). When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the Jewish farmer would go out to his field and tie a thread around the first fruits that started budding. When they ripen, he would bring these fruits, in a fancy basket, to the Temple to offer thanks.
Harvest Festival (Chag Hakatzir). Because it also celebrates the wheat-harvesting season, in Israel, children dress in white, with flowers in their hair, and carry baskets of fruit and wheat. On the kibbutzim, each branch shows off its produce – bananas, avocados, cotton, vegetables, fish from the fish ponds, and even the products from their factories!
And…it is traditional to eat dairy treats such as cheesecake and blintzes! We will enjoy various dairy dishes, including cheesecake, blintz soufflé, and fruit salad during our Leil Tikkun – the Evening of Study that traditionally lasts all night…but, according to Sedona tradition, will conclude at 9 p.m.