According to our tradition, on this very night thousands of years ago, we Jews received the Torah on Mt. Sinai.
With matan torah/the giving of the Torah, came the strategy and the means to create a new type of (aspirational) civilization, one that would change the world forever.
…and so tonight, we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot!
Jewish communities from around the world will read the Book of Ruth, recite joyous prayers, eat dairy meals, and bring harvest colors into their homes. However, my favorite way to celebrate Shavuot is through Tikun Leyl Shavuot, group study, and learning.
Education and study are paramount values in Judaism, for they signify the Jewish view of the world: that through effort and honest intention, progress towards something higher can be achieved.
Throughout history, empires have marked their greatness by seeking to erect something permanent for all to see: statues, temples, buildings, plazas.
Yet we know, regardless of what the powers of each age insist, that these structures of stone and metal will fall against the winds of time regardless of their liminal magnificence.
The Shelley poem, Ozymandias, speaks of finding the remnants of a gigantic statue in the middle of a remote desert, with only its feet remaining from where once stood an empire. The inscription on the pedestal, now an epithet, reads as follows:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Throughout history, we Jews have not put our energy into edifices, but rather, we have put our energy into schools. Rather than raise statues, we raise up generations of students, thinkers, scholars.
Matan Torah, the giving of Torah, is celebrated with the very best that we have, our minds stretching for the pleasure of learning. Our study becomes our hopes, our dreams, and our prayers, all rolled up into one.
We, at Temple Emanu-El, have become ‘a congregation of learners’. Even with Corona, each week we have close to 200 adults taking classes that range from Jewish Mindful Meditation to Talmud, from Musar to Music, from Torah to Ethics, from Spiritual Direction to Peoplehood.
Tonight, our Cantor will help lead the Atlanta Jewish community in a short celebratory Shavuot service, and then begins an evening of learning with rabbis from across our city, and throughout our country. Each hour you will get a chance to learn with a different teacher, on a different subject, all centered around Shavuot. SEE LINKS BELOW.
What better way to lionize the strength of our community, of our generation, and the absolute resilience that we will again proclaim!
Whether you have been learning with us daily, weekly, monthly…or if tonight will be your first time, join us.
It will be interesting and inspirational.
Hag Sameach Shavuot to you, and to us all!
6:00pm - Tikkun Leil Shavuot 5780 - An Evening of Learning and Celebrating Torah – Register HERE
8:30pm - Musical Service Celebration with Cantor Lauren Adesnik along with the Reform Clergy of Greater Atlanta
Zoom Meeting: HERE
Meeting ID: 817 6624 5656
12:00am - Midnight Learning with Rabbi Spike: The Nazir, Divine Communion, and CoronaVirus
Zoom Meeting: HERE
Meeting ID: 558 291 6779