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Friday, June 3, 2011

My Shavuot in Israel 1982

Nadene Goldfoot
Shavuot this year starts on June 7, on Tuesday (Sivan5)  at sundown, and brings memories of a wonderful experience in Israel.  It happens to be one of the three pilgrim festivals in Judaism and there I was, living right in Safed, Israel.  I didn't have to drive to the synagogue.  We walked as a quaint one was about 15 minutes away.  There I saw costumed men who wore clothes  most all the time of knee britches, long socks, and shtreimels (big black broad-brimmed hats trimmed with velvet or edged in fur) on their heads.

This is a time when the Passover period ends.  People have been counting the Omer for  fifty days.  This commemorates the time when the law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  Kaabbalists and others have observed the eve of Shavuot in study.  The book of Ruth is read in the synagogue and the Ten Commandments.  It mentions the barley and wheat harvests and this is the time of wheat harvesting.  People will have flowers and boughs in their home and synagogue for decoration.  Dairy products are served. 

May 29, 1982 from my book, Letters From Israel. 

Thursday was Shavuot, and Don and Maureen had been invited over for dinner.  I served borsht with sour cream, some delicious cold smoked fish that is better than kippered salmon, salad, cheese blintzes with sour cream and cherry preserves, and for dessert we had cheesecake with cherry topping.  Don was in seventh heaven.  I have to brag that everything tasted so good.  The blintzes came from your cookbook that you had given me.  (This was a letter to my mother, of course.)

The next night we went to their house for Shabbat dinner.  That helps when you have two celebrations back to back to cook for.  The only problem is walking there and back, but the exercise was good for us. 

Thursday night you are supposed to stay up all night and study the Torah.  Don and Maureen conked out and went home, but this 11 year old Moishe came over and studied with us until about 2am.  At midnight we all went outside and said a special prayer, because at midnight the heavens were to open up and your prayer was to go directly up to HaShem (G-d).  Moishe thought the heavens really would open up and was afraid to go out at first.  His father was at the synagogue and really stayed up until 7am.  Anyway, we had lots of fun with Moishe, as he would say, "Stop, I don't understand that," and we would go over some passage.  I think the kid is going to grow up to be a Tzaddick.  He's so smart.  Well, I've had a nice respite from my students, and tomorrow I must be back in the saddle.

Letters From Israel by Nadene Goldfoot
The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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