The days between Pesach – the commemoration of our liberation from slavery in Egypt – and Shavuot – our commemoration of receiving the Torah on Sinai – are traditionally marked by the daily Sefirat haOmer. This is a counting of days in a symbolic wilderness period of preparation between our liberation as a nation and the next step in our relationship with the Eternal, a moment of commitment when we accept the Torah into our lives. In a sense, this makes Shavuot the birthday of Judaism as we know it, with its roots in words of Torah which we study into the night.
Since we started our shared journey with our sister community Beth Hillel, Shavuot has been an appropriate and consistent opportunity to do things together, something we maintained even when we were forced online by the pandemic. This year was no different. We prayed together in large numbers in Beth Hillel’s sanctuary, then moved to IJC’s sanctuary for a session of Israeli dancing. And having burned some calories, it was time to replace them at the potluck with an enormous array of delicious food contributions. Having satisfied the stomach, it was now time for the intellect as we split into language groups for study sessions led by Rabbis Brian and Marc, IJC’s Laurin Reding and Beth Hillel’s Sebastián Álvarez. All in all, a traditional yet relaxed and convivial Erev Shavuot.
Our sages also describe Shavuot as a marriage, with Pesach and the days that follow as the engagement and courtship, and Shavuot as the wedding. To acknowledge this metaphor, we read a form of a ketubah during our shared Erev Shavuot service with Beth Hillel.
While Beth Hillel and IJC share the same home, there are no wedding plans. But we acknowledge together that we share the same covenantal relationship with the Eternal, just as we share an enthusiasm for good food and lively learning.
Rabbi Brian Doyle-Du Breuil