It is the custom at Shavuot for teenagers to participate in the ceremony of Confirmation, introduced by Reform Judaism in the early part of the 19th century. They “confirm” their commitment to Judaism, to Jewish life, and to Congregation Rodeph Sholom. Join us to celebrate our Confirmands.
Shavuot was originally an agricultural festival to mark the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. Israelites went on a pilgrimage bringing crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.
Although it began as this harvest festival bringing the first fruits to the Temple as a gift to God, Shavuot is the time we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
After the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites went to Mount Sinai where Moses ascended the mountain to meet God and received the Ten Commandments. Shavuot means “weeks”, which refers to the 49 days—seven weeks—it took for them to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai. “And you shall proclaim that day (the 50th day) to be a holy convocation!” (Leviticus 23:21).
Ruth was a young Moabite woman who married an Israelite man. When her husband died, she followed her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Israel and adopted the Jewish faith and people as her own. She met Boaz while working in his wheat fields and they married. Among their descendants is King David.
The Book of Ruth is read on Shavuot because, like the holiday, it takes place during the wheat harvest. “Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) Accepting the Torah, just as Jews accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai, this passage is considered to be Ruth’s conversion statement.