Educational Tools

Shavuot Resource Guide

May 11, 2023

Shavuot is a time for discussion, retelling, and reimagining. Reboot has compiled a collection of resources to help you reimagine your Shavuot. Like everything Reboot does, this collection of content can easily complement or supplement your traditional holiday experiences to personalize how you embrace this holiday season. Scroll down to download!

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Reboot has long considered Shavuot to be the Jewish calendar’s best-kept secret. Many secular Jews don’t mark it and it isn’t known broadly like Hanukkah or Passover. But it is one of the Jewish calendar’s most important holidays. Shavuot began as an agricultural festival during which our sages and forebears would gather their harvests, travel to the Temple and offer the choicest produce as an expression of dutiful gratitude. Over time, the agricultural foundations of the holiday were nurtured, repurposed and developed into a rich interpretive soil from which other traditions have sprung. Most notably, Shavuot is commemorated as the holiday when the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

For many, the gift of the Torah is a familiar narrative: following the Exodus from Egypt, Moses brought the people to Mount Sinai, where he spoke to God and was given the 10 Commandments followed by the text of the Torah. Many of the traditional Shavuot customs can be traced back to this story. For example, we stay up all night and study the Torah in symbolic anticipation of receiving it at dawn.

The story of Moses receiving the Torah at Sinai is also fantastical, and throughout history it seems as though the rabbis understood that the tale of a divine being bestowing an extravagant set of rules and regulations to a group of people in the desert could be difficult for many to believe. Instead of remaining quiet out of reverence for the sacred interpretations of previous generations, these rabbis wrote their own interpretations, enriching our cultural memory with new ideas. In one such interpretation, the Torah was said to be given through three elements: water, fire, and wilderness. Thus, just as those elements are freely accessible to all the inhabitants of the world, so too is Torah freely accessible to them.

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