Seven weeks after we celebrate Passover, we mark the holiday of Shavuot – literally “weeks.” In the Bible, Shavuot was primarily an agricultural holiday, marking the end of the grain harvest and the beginning of a new agricultural season during which first fruits were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. Later, Shavuot came to be associated with the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. On Passover, we were physically freed from slavery; on Shavuot, our freedom is given purpose – we are free in order to serve God according to the dictates of the Torah.
Shavuot has yet to capture the imagination of most liberal Jews. Why is that? The Torah describes three pilgrimage festivals, times when the ancient Israelites were expected to journey to
It took the recitation of Yizkor on Memorial Day to remind me of this important fact: it is incumbent on me as a citizen to take time to reflect and remember.