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Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.

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June 7th, 2011

Remembering Shavuot

 
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It was May 2006 and I was in Jerusalem – the Old City, to be exact – for the holiday of Shavuot.  I had plans to stay with friends who were dorming at Hebrew University’s Mt. Scopus campus for the semester.  We took a cab down to the Old City to meet up with friends for the holiday where the Jews celebrate receiving of the Torah.  It’s customary to stay up all night studying Torah in anticipation of the gift we are about to receive…and that’s just what I did.

It was the only time that I stayed up all night.  I was with someone who became one of my best friends that year I was in Israel and he and I were always prepared to take on new experiences.  Of all the classes available in Jerusalem, we decided we would stick to an organization called Isralight that had a special Shavuot program.  It was perfect for us as we hadn’t really had an advanced Jewish education.  The topics of the lectures that night slip my mind, but the memories of walking from the Old City to the Kotel – the Wailing Wall – for 5:00am prayers will never escape me.

Seeing hundreds (thousands?) of Jews walking to the Kotel – some walked 1 or 2 hours to get there! – was one of the most overwhelmingly beautiful things I have seen in my life.  I highly recommend it for anyone who has the opportunity to be in Israel during this holiday.

My Brooklyn Shavuot experience won’t be the same, but I think it will be pretty awesome anyway.  I’m having a delicious dairy dinner (it’s a custom to eat dairy foods this holiday) with my congregation and will stay up as long as I can learning Torah from members of the synagogue.  While nothing can beat staying up for the sunrise in the Old City, something tells me tonight might be a close 2nd.  I’m looking forward to whatever inspiration tonight will bring.

 
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The Author : Farrah Fidler
Farrah Fidler is a publicist and social media consultant. A native New Yorker, and recent transplant to Brooklyn, she has always been a soul searcher and is constantly looking for new ways to connect with G-d.
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  • Maria

    It’s just a guess, but I would say that the command to count the days might be in order to islnitl a spirit of mounting anticipation for the coming celebration. One reason for this might be to emphasize the special importance of Shavuot in our Lord’s eyes that may not have been immediately apparent to His people at the time He gave the command.From a Christian perspective this would make perfect sense because Shavuot or Pentecost (the Festival of Weeks) not only commemorates our Lord’s giving of the law to Moses, but now also commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit to His church, as foretold by the prophet Joel (2:28-32) . Pentecost also marks the birth of the Christian church. The twelve disciples, being filled with the Holy Spirit were transformed from a bunch of frightened, uneducated men into powerful apostles who turned the world upside down and gained 3,000 Hebrew converts in a single day. Whatever your faith, I think that anyone would agree, the events of that day 2,000 years ago are still having a massive impact on the world today. Little wonder that our Lord would hold this celebration in high esteem.Thank you Yaakov.

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