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Festival of Shavuot Marks Giving of Torah at Sinai

Torah scrolls contain the Five Books of Moses

Torah scrolls contain the Five Books of Moses

On Saturday, May 26th at 7 pm, the members of Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County will encircle themselves in Torah—the sacred scrolls of the five books of Moses—to observe the festival of Shavuot. The celebration will take place at the synagogue, 1710 S. Highland Avenue, Lombard.

Shavuot, which means “Weeks” in Hebrew, marks the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. It occurs exactly seven weeks after the beginning of Passover, which celebrates their freedom from bondage in Egypt.

Etz Chaim’s Senior Rabbi Steven M. Bob explains, “Shavuot is the other half of the Passover story. God took us out of Egypt for a purpose—to bring us to Mount Sinai and give us the Torah. Shavuot, commemorating that act of revelation, concludes the story begun on Passover.”

Shavuot is also known as the Festival of First Fruits, a harvest festival. In ancient Israel, the Jews brought offerings of the “first fruits” of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. Modern-day Jews recall that act by bringing flowers to the synagogue on Shavuot, to decorate the sanctuary and the Ark which holds the Torah scrolls.

During the Shavuot service at Congregation Etz Chaim, a Torah scroll is completely unrolled and held by leaders of the congregation, encircling the members literally and figuratively. Young people who have become Bar or Bat Mitzvah since last Shavuot will read from the Torah.

After the service, the congregation will savor traditional Shavuot refreshments of blintzes (crepes filled with sweet cottage cheese), sweets, and fruits in the synagogue’s social hall.

The final portion of the Shavuot celebration is a Torah study session. Rabbi Andrea J. Cosnowsky will lead a discussion about “The Allegorical Representation of the Relationship of God and Israel as Husband and Wife.”

Congregation Etz Chaim, the only Reform synagogue in DuPage County, has served the western suburbs for over 50 years. For more information, please call the synagogue office at (630) 627-3912.

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