Shavuot at IJC this year saw us return to an in-person celebration and study. IJC has celebrated this festival for several years together with sister community Beth Hillel, and plans had been finalised for a joint Erev Shavuot service and a parallel French/English evening of study – a Tikkun Le’il Shavuot – all in our shared synagogue. But just as we thought – or hoped – that it was safe to go back into the water, Covid struck our francophone rabbis and the contribution of Beth Hillel shifted for the most part online.
IJC’s new siddur offers a wonderful Erev Shavuot service, so we marked the transition from Shabbat to Shavuot with Havdalah and an Erev Shavuot service in Hebrew/English with a small French contribution.
Shavuot wouldn’t be Shavuot without cheese! So this year we preceded our dairy potluck dinner with a cheese-making demonstration from IJC member Chantal Carlier. We packed the kitchen and watched as Chantal transformed Greek Yoghurt into flavoursome labneh! We also learned how to make delicious vegan ‘cheese’ from cashew nuts. Thanks Chantal, you were brilliant!
But Chantal wasn’t finished! After dinner she treated us to a history of modern Israeli dance, with some amazing YouTube examples.
Next on the study schedule was an exploration of the Book of Ruth led by Rabbi Brian, focusing on the difference between poetry and narrative and how poetry allows us access to the personality and emotions of characters where narrative usually doesn’t.
We concluded the evening with a presentation by rabbinical student Andres Mosquera who shared some verses of Talmud and later rabbinical statements about whether women ‘should’ wear tallit and tefillin. Guess what our conclusion was?
A great night, with more cheesecake than any normal human being could ever need, plenty of food for the body, and nourishment for the mind. We concluded after midnight, tired but satisfied.
- by Rabbi Brian Doyle-Du Breuil