Shavuot is the Hebrew word for “weeks” and refers to the Jewish festival marking the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurs seven weeks after Passover – the exodus from Egypt and the liberation from slavery. Shavuot, like many other Jewish holidays, began as an ancient agricultural festival that marked the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. In ancient times, Shavuot was a pilgrimage festival during which Israelites brought crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, it is a celebration of Torah, education, and actively choosing to participate in Jewish life.
This year, according to the Jewish calendar, Shavuot is celebrated from sundown June 3rd through sundown on June 5th. Since Shavuot is an ancient pilgrimage holiday, most of the celebration rituals focus on the community – namely, the celebration of words. Traditionally, those of Jewish faith study the Torah beginning at nightfall of the first day of the festival. Today, the community gathers for the reading of the 10 commandments, along with the stories of Ezekiel and Ruth. In Christian tradition, this celebration, known as Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit, happens on June 8th. In that gathering Words suddenly dissolved and multiplied into hearing and speaking the 70 different tongues of all humanity.
Today, We Are Straight Allies celebrates our many threads of connection with the belief that the Holy Spirit moves through all languages, through all people to unify each “I” with the Divine collective of “We”. With that, we re-created Rabbi Olitzky’s image in Hebrew, as a symbol that Equality is universal…that nothing is more important than our humanity.
Berakah. Shalom. Ahabah. [Blessings. Peace. Love.]
Gracious translation credit goes to Rabbi Olitzky.