Shavuot 2010 Begins at Sundown on May 18
Shavuot 2010: Alternative Observances
Shavuot begins at sundown on May 18. Shavuot is a major Jewish holiday, but gets eclipsed by Hannukah, which is itself relatively minor. Let's face it: most western Jews don't actually know what Shavuot is!
Shavuot, aka Pentecost
That's cool: here's the quick and dirty version: Shavuot (שבועות), which literally translates to "weeks" and was called "Pentecost (50th day)" by the Hellenistic Greeks, celebrates the anniversary of God's giving the Torah to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai. This takes place 49 days after the Exodus (celebrated at Passover).
Traditional Shavuot Study: Not That Much Fun
Shavuot is traditionally celebrated by all-night Torah study... and that's why you've never heard of it. Jews in the Bay Area are reclaiming Shavuot and transforming it into something less musty and studious, but keeping its nature as a vessel of culture and history. From cheesecake festivals to moonlight discussions atop Mt. Tamalpais to an event called Reboot at the California Academy of Sciences.
Shavuot is traditionally celebrated for one day in Israel and two days by the Diaspora, but most Jews just celebrate for one day, no matter where they are on the planet.
The until-midnight affair offers everything from a spiritual discussion with comedian Sandra Bernhard to mixed drinks served by author Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket. There will also be panels on pork, world music, premiere film screenings and a workshop on fertility.