Is Shavuot the Redheaded Stepchild of Jewish Holidays?

Three times a year—on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the Feast of Weeks, and on the Feast of Booths—all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place that He will choose. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed, but each with his own gift, according to the blessing that the LORD your God has bestowed upon you.

Deuteronomy 16:16-17

These are the pilgrimage festivals—Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot—when Jewish males were commanded to journey to Jerusalem bearing gifts.

Everybody knows what Passover is, and most have a passing knowledge of Sukkot. Shavuot, unfortunately, is often overlooked—in terms of Jewish holidays, it’s down in the basement sweeping up cinders, when it should be upstairs with the two fancier holidays.

Okay, that’s a terrible metaphor. The point is that Shavuot commemorates something quite important: the gift of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

Whether the Jews got the entire Torah at Sinai is for you to decide. Either way, Shavuot is a way of celebrating the document that changed the world.

And since we’re not really doing pilgrimage festivals anymore, we can at least echo those great gatherings by celebrating with community. Traditionally, that’s meant a tikkun—an all-night marathon learning session.

Of course, LABA is about creating art. So at the the 14th St Y, on Sunday, June 9, from 6 to 10pm, we’re presenting a reimagined Tikkun. For free tickets, click here.

Tikkun: Into the Dusk is led by LABA artists and teachers, with installations, performances, and text study in Hebrew and English. We’re capping it off with a rooftop party with wine and cheesecake. We’ll also be raising a toast to Artistic Director Ronit Muszkatblit, who is departing for her sabbatical.

Tikkun performances include Ilana Sichel’s Open Closed Open, a participatory video installation in memory of the author’s older brother, Aaron. (You can read more about Ilana and her brother here.)

Ilana Sichel

And you’ll see Stav Palti-Negev’s An Evening on the River Styx, the first chapter of her new play based on Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. It includes demons, songs, and takes place in the Y’s real swimming pool! (For free tickets click here.)

From Stav Palti-Negev’s An Evening on the River Styx

We’re also have music from Alex Weiser and Yonatan Gutfeld, visual art and teachings from Jessica Tamar Deutsch, teachings from Liel Leibovitz and Ruby Namdar, and a whole lot more.

So join us in celebrating Shavuot with art and culture. It’s also our way of celebrating our LABA season of LIFE + DEATH. As with every LABA event, we invite people of all faiths and all levels of Jewish observance. Click here for tickets.

P.S. We’re also having children’s events in the late afternoon! For more information and to RSVP click here.

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