5 Sivan 5774
(Literally, “Good Festival” in Hebrew – and according to JewFaq.org, it’s one of the three times during the year when it’s most appropriate to say that – Pesach and Sukkot being the other two.)
I’m done with my grading for the spring classes (thanks to some help) and today I file grades, and I’ll be done with that mishegaas finally. From now on I just have to keep up with the online intersession class. This also means I can start writing again; something I’ve been putting off due to the whirlwind of classes and students.
I’ve heard back from the rabbi and we’ve finalized a date for a first meeting – next Tuesday, June 10th (12 Sivan). I’m excited and nervous, and making lists of the books I’ve read and trying to come up with good questions to ask. Anyone have suggestions?
My partner linked something on my Facebook wall about Shavuot this morning, and wished me a happy Shavuot when he got to work and sent me his usual “I made it, I’m safe, love you, have a good day” text. My best friend was over yesterday and she brought me a Mogen David to wear until we make it to the Fairfax district on Friday morning, as well as giving me a gorgeous set of tallit clips that, she says, “ought to be used.” (Yes, I am verklempt.)
Tonight I’m going to be at temple, studying Torah until I get tired, and then I’ll come home and sleep the sleep of the exhausted. But in between now and then, I’m going to make at least one loaf of my grain-free challah so I can take it with me to the study session at temple (because I should provide the noshes I can eat instead of expecting anyone else to, that’s why), and plan out cooking for tomorrow and Thursday. My partner, unfortunately, works the swing shift both days so he won’t be home to have dinner, but there will be leftovers.
Apart from food, I want to talk a little bit about what this day means to me as a Jew-by-choice. Shavuot is one of those smaller holidays, from what I’ve read, and many secular Jews who still celebrate Pesach and Yom Kippur don’t observe it. I think that’s a little sad, considering it’s the day we observe the Jewish people’s receipt of the Torah. But it’s also a harvest festival – the bringing of the first fruits – and a celebration of what Jews do best: study and learn.
There are reasons that children are often introduced to Torah study on Shavuot, and why (from what I understand) graduation from Hebrew school and confirmation ceremonies happen on or near Shavuot. So it’s not just a celebration of the harvest or the day that Jews became the Chosen People. It’s also a celebration of the ongoing need to study and learn. Although there are no specific mitzvot associated with Shavuot, I think an argument could be made that the mitzvot associated with Torah study are central to it.
As an academic, I think that Shavuot may hold a special place in my heart as I develop as a Jew. In a month or so I’ll celebrate the second anniversary of my dissertation defense, and that’s a big deal to me. I teach and learn for a living as a college professor (adjunct or not, I’m still a professor). Shavuot, for me, may become the day that I reaffirm my commitment not just to the Torah and to the Jewish people (although that’s a big part of it) but to studying, teaching, and learning as my life-work.
So have a blintz and pick up your Torah, and chag sameach to you all.