With the Jewish festival of Shavuot — that begins this year at sunset on May 28 and concludes at nightfall on May 30th — approaching amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Chabad of South Carolina will provide Columbia’s Jewish community with resources to celebrate at home.
Chabad of South Carolina has announced that they will be bringing the holiday of Shavuot to the community, many of whom are still sheltering at home.
“While local officials are slowly opening the state, many people are going to be a little more cautious about attending religious services. “The Torah, a living guide for life, instructs us to prioritize saving and preserving life over virtually every Mitzvah.”
Shavuot, which begins this year at sunset on May 28 and concludes at nightfall on May 30th, celebrates the Giving of the Torah and Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai some 3,332 years ago and is considered one of Judaism’s major holidays. While traditionally, a significant aspect of the holiday observance is hearing the Ten Commandments read at synagogue from a Torah scroll and joining family and friends for festive meals, for many members of the Columbia Jewish community, particularly the elderly, young children and those with underlying medical conditions, this year’s celebration will be held at home.
“The very Torah whose giving we are celebrating instructs us that the preservation of human life is paramount,” said Rabbi Hesh Epstein, Executive Director of Chabad of South Carolina. “So for many people, the most meaningful way to celebrate Shavuot and the giving of the Torah is by receiving the Torah at home and staying safe.”
Traditionally, Jews pull an “all-nighter” the first night of Shavuot, recalling the night before the Giving of the Torah, when the Jews went to sleep, waking late in the morning. As a symbolic rectification for this, Jews customarily stay awake studying Torah all night. Recognizing that for many, studying all night without the classes and curriculum typically featured each Shavuot at Chabad of South Carolina this year they’ll be providing an online and printed curriculum to enhance this year’s at-home all-night study marathon.
Another popular Shavuot custom is enjoying a dairy meal. To help with this year’s at-home dairy feast, Chabad of South Carolina will be distributing cheesecakes as well.
“While we anticipate the time when the whole community will be able to gather in the synagogue for services, this year’s Shavuot celebration is a chance to remind ourselves that in truth, the most important Jewish institution is the home,” said Rabbi Epstein. “The Torah was given in the middle of the desert; a place anyone can go, to remind us that the Torah is the heritage of everyone equally, including those at home.”
What is the holiday of Shavuot?
More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people received the Torah from G‑d at Mount Sinai. Shavuot literally means “weeks” and marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot. Shavuot customs include all-night Torah study, listening to the recitation of the Ten Commandments, the reading of the Book of Ruth, eating dairy products and adorning the synagogue and home with greenery and flowers. For everything you need to know about Shavuot visit www.chabadofsc.com/Shavuot.
About the Sponsoring Organization
Chabad of South Carolina offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations.
For more information, contact Chabad of South Carolina at 803 467-3456 or visit online at www.chabadofsc.com.