"You must count 50 days, then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the Lord. You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an offering...as first fruits to the Lord." (Leviticus 23:16-17)
That's the commandment for Shavuot. And holy smokes, look at that: "from your dwelling-places." ממושבתיכם. That’s never felt like the word to focus on here before...but wow, now it sure does.
From your dwelling-places: that’s how we will do Shavuot this year. From our homes. Note that the commandment is in the plural: each of us from our own dwelling-places, but in the plural. And note, too, that the root of this word meaning "dwelling, living, settling" is also the root for sitting, and resting, and Shabbat-ing. It’s the verb inviting us to stop, to sit, to be right where we are.
Shavuot is, at its core, a pilgrimage festival, born of the idea that traveling to get someplace special is one way to sanctify time and feel closer to one’s people and the source of life. But "from our dwelling-places": It turns out that where we come from is as important as where we are heading, and where we are sitting-dwelling-living right now is the place from which it all unfolds.
From our homes, that is where we will find we can make the most beautiful thanksgiving offerings. The Ramban (living in Spain in the 12th century) notices that the offerings we are told to bring on the holidays are mixtures. Not just one type of offering—not just one super-sweet or super-strong offering but a combination of things that are all a bit different.
That is the premise of the Paul Feig z"l Tikkun Leil Shavuot lineup this Shavuot. We are offering to you a mixture of text study and arts and ideas and food and culture. All of which are Torah in some way, all of which can help us learn something about ourselves and one another and our world. All of which are food for spiritual nourishment, and which together constitute a thanksgiving offering this Shavuot.
From our dwelling-places to yours, we are so glad to be celebrating Shavuot 5780 together with you.
- Rabbi Abigail Treu,
Director, The Center for Jewish Living
P.S. In addition to the live offerings that will take us through this Shavuot night, we offer as well this folder of sources and texts, a collection of Torah from our UWS rabbis and neighborhood partners. Compiled by UWS Shaliach Harel Fenigstein, the collection will be available here for download, printing, or to be used in any way that will augment the holiness of the day for you.
My brother, Paul, died in a car accident 22 years ago. He had not yet celebrated his 30th birthday.
For my parents, Arthur and Fay; for his wife, Paula; and for me, his tragic loss has left a sadness that never goes away, but in the Jewish tradition, we find ways to memorialize him and keep his spirit with us. A few years ago, when Michelle and I were raising money for the JCC, we realized that the Tikkun, now in its 16th year at the JCC, would be a wonderful way to memorialize him.
I constantly wish that Michelle, Zachary, Benny, and Jacob had had the opportunity to know Paul, but the Tikkun helps give them the opportunity to appreciate his spirit.
Paul loved the arts. He sang, played guitar and drums, and acted in the theatre. He also had a passion for learning and reading. I remember him as always having a book in his hand and always excited to tell a story about something he had just learned. His interests spanned from screenwriting to cooking to the story of Passover. Paul was proud of his Judaism and had greater tolerance than me for sitting through long shul services, which he actually enjoyed.
My brother definitely would be one of the people who would have seen a bright side of the tragedy that is this moment of COVID. He would have relished the opportunity to have more time with his books and to pursue his passions in music. Paul was an early-to-rise, early-to-bed kind of guy, so, in most years he wouldn’t have made it to more than two or three of the classes. I get that. However, while staying up till 5 am won’t be easy, if there was one year to do it…
As I look at the schedule and see how the stars have aligned with Abby’s efforts to bring us this amazing event, I am just blown away. I, for one, am looking forward to learning about Harry Potter as a sacred text, hearing more about Koolulam, listening to one of my favorite Israeli singers perform, and hearing from one of the most inspiring and insightful teachers I’ve had the pleasure of learning with. I’ve missed learning with Rabbi Michael Paley, who now lives in Budapest, but can’t wait to hear him at 2 am.
I really hope that from somewhere up in the sky, Paul is watching the Tikkun, excited about Idan Raichel and cursing me for not having anything in the program about Jewish characters and themes in The Simpsons.
I am eternally grateful to Rabbi Joy Levitt, who has conceptualized and engineered this amazing New York City tradition, and Rabbi Abigail Treu, who continues each year to build an awesome program. I am also so appreciative of my friend Moshe Horn, who works with Abby and me to generate new and exciting topics and speakers for the Tikkun and always has a good idea to counter each of my bad ones.
I wish everyone good health, and I hope you all, those who can join us from NYC and those from way beyond, will enjoy the Tikkun and treasure it as I do.
- Jeff Feig,
Board Member, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
We are so pleased to offer vibrant, comprehensive virtual programs such as this year's Tikkun Leil Shavuot, at no cost to the community. To help ensure that we are able to continue providing these opportunities for our community to come together during these difficult times, please consider making a donation to the JCC so we can sustain ourselves now and reopen strongly in the future.