Minutes of Meeting

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Date: June 8, 2003

Location: University of Dayton, Alumni Hall Room 101

Meeting Topic: Shavuot

Speaker: Lorraine Kotler

Hosts: Debra Geier and Judith Baker

Members: 19;  Guests: 1

Thank You

Thanks goes to Judith Baker and to the Geier's for contributing the delicious refreshments for the June DCJD meeting.

 Thanks, Jerry Kotler, for singing our devotions.

 And thank you, Lorraine, for the beautiful exposition of the Hebrew Holy Day, Shavuot.

 Lorraine's Presentation about Shavuot

I.    Overview

Shavuot, the Feast of the Weeks, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the wheat harvest offering in Temple times. Shavuot, which means "weeks", refers to the timing of the festival which is held exactly 7 weeks after the 2nd day of Passover, when the barley harvest was celebrated with an offering of an omer of barley at the Temple in Jerusalem.

 Second of the three pilgrimage holidays.

Today it is celebrated on the 6th of the Jewish month of Sivan (also on the 7th in the Diaspora).

 In the Bible, Shavuot was merely a harvest festival celebrating the first fruits as well as the wheat harvest when two loaves of leavened bread made from the finest wheat flour were brought to the Temple.

Oral tradition gave this holiday added significance by identifying it as the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Torah.  Since the destruction of the Temple,  this latter tradition has completely overshadowed the original Biblical (agricultural) meaning.

II.   Names for the holiday

A.    Shavuot -- the Feast of the Weeks

B.    Pentecost Fiftieth Day

C.    Hag ha Katzir -- Feast of the Harvest" (Exodus 23:16)

D.    Yom ha Bikkurim -- Day of the First Fruits

E.    Zman Matan Toratenu -- Time of the Giving of  Our Torah

F.    Atzeret Completion

III.           Special Practices

                         A.    Eating dairy foods

B.    Decorating home and synagogue with greenery

C.    All night Torah study on first night (Tikkun leil Shavuot)

D.    Reading the Book of Ruth

 IV.         Synagogue Readings

                                             A.   First Day:  Exodus 19:1 20:23 & Numbers 28:26 31; Ezekiel 1:1-28; 3:12

B.    Second Day: Deuteronomy 14:22 16:17; Habakkuk 3:1-19

 V.          Counting the Days of the Omer

                                             A.    Determining the correct date

B.    Mystical connection

VI.         Summary

 The identification of historical festivals with seasonal ones symbolizes the unique manner in which Jews approach history.  The deliverance from Egypt did not occur just once in history, but rather it is repeated every year as Jews celebrate Passover.  We are told that each Jew must consider himself personally redeemed from slavery, and our special Passover diet helps us to actualize the experience of our ancestors.  In the same way, when it is time to harvest the wheat in the land of Israel, G-d again reveals his Law to us.  Whether we are there to accept it or not is up to each individual.  The contract between the human and the Divine must be continually renewed by our continuing commitment.

 Presented by Lorraine Kotler 6/8/03 to DCJD in loving memory of Benjamin Mandel (Baruch ben Michuel).

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