Shavuot often seems like the under-the-radar Jewish holiday. I have read a few articles about this, how it is often overlooked by less observant Jews, or thought of mostly as the holiday to eat cheesecake. And I do agree that it does not seem to have the fanfare and big ticket appeal of Passover or Hanukkah.

Even if you tell most people that it is the holiday commemorating the Ten Commandments, and remind Christians that it is known as the Pentecost, it still does not have the highest profile for a rather happy holiday. But New York City certainly does remember to suspend alternate side parking on both days of the holiday!



I began to really appreciate Shavuot the year I was 16. My synagogue, the East Midwood Jewish Center, used to commemorate the first day of Shavuot in a special way for the teenagers of the congregation by holding their "Rededication" ceremony.


This meant that kids who were 16, and some 15 and 17 year old kids as well, would have parts in the service, and together sing and chant certain prayers. Afterward the Kiddush was quite festive, and each participating teen had a custom made cake! I remember I was asked in advance which flavors I would like for my cake and I asked for vanilla frosting and pineapple inside. Lo and behold, I got this cake and my name was spelled on it. I was rather delighted by this cake and the whole ceremony.

This year was perhaps the most interesting and fulfilling Shavuot of my adult life and I will explain why. Certain simple factors weighed in: for starters, the weather was very nice both days in New York City. A sunny holiday always cheers me on (even a sunny Yom Kippur).  On Day One, I was asked to preside as the Silent Gabbai for the Torah readings and I did so. And this time I really followed carefully as our hazzan Sam chanted the prayer of Akdamut. I enjoyed it more this time around than ever before, and I also thought back to about five years ago, when my younger daughter took a shine to the prayer and I helped her learn part of it.

Day Two was more nerve-wracking because I had volunteered to read the Haftorah from Habbakuk, and then was asked to read part of Megillat Ruth. It is not easy to learn parts that have different tunes and going from the mostly major key Ruth to the mostly minor key Habbakuk was challenging, but I did it. 

For both kiddushim of the holiday we were served blintzes and I ate delicious cheese blintzes. Day Two I had an oddball conversation with another congregant, who is very knowledgeable but also a bit of a schoolmarm type. But during our convo we discussed the Shavuot service and readings and she told me a few things that I found very interesting, and also a bit humbling. (I won't go into them in detail, sorry.)

Shavuot, the lower profile holiday that has some wonderful moments. See you next year.


Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

Think others should know about this? Please share