Shavuot has a lot going for it, as far as holidays go. For one, we celebrate the grain harvest. In the book of Exodus, one of the names for Shavuot is Hag HaKatzir—the Festival of the Harvest, making this an agricultural celebration, known for first fruits and loaves of bread made of freshly gathered wheat. And if this AgriFest wasn’t enough to commemorate, we have part two of our holiday—the creation of our covenant with G-d and the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. At Shavuot we are taken from the exile of Egypt to the exhale of relief as we accept the gifts of the 10 commandments and the enormity of our new relationship with the Divine and divine law. Revelation in the nation.
Of the many gifts I have received from the JCC, the most unexpectedly beautiful one is Shavuot. When I came to the JCC, everything about Shavuot was new to me. I grew up passionately Reform, Jewishly literate-ish, marking Shabbat, dancing on Simchat Torah. Yet it wasn’t until I began working at the JCC that I even remember hearing people discuss Shavuot. Much of this was due to the fact that the JCC goes all out for the occasion—during our annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot (at least through 2019), we would stay up all night; feast on cheesecake/chocolate-covered espresso beans/coffee; hang spontaneously in the lobby at 2 am; cheerfully take the stairs; and host dozens of programs in a seven-hour gallop. Even last year, two months into the collective nightmare of COVID-19, we Tikkun-ed our faces off, with 7,000 of us beaming into Zoom rooms in the middle of the night.
This year we are quite literally doubling down on revelation. With 11 tracks and over 70 programs, we are thrilled to present a roster of music, conversations, text study, food, film, and so much more that reflects the diversity of the Jewish world we want to build with you. We invite you to stay the night and play on the mountain with us, surrounded by the “clouds, thunder, lightning, smoke, and fire” described so sacredly in our holiest books.
Chag Sameach, Happy Holidays.
With warmth and gratitude,
Director, The Center for Jewish Living
This wonderful Tikkun Leil Shavuot is named for my brother, Paul, who died in a car accident 23 years ago. He had not yet celebrated his 30th birthday.
For my parents, Arthur and Fay; for his wife, Paula; and for me, his tragic loss has left a sadness that never goes away, but in the Jewish tradition, we find ways to memorialize him and keep his spirit with us. A few years ago, when Michelle and I were raising money for the JCC, we realized that the Tikkun, now in its 18th year at the JCC, would be a wonderful way to memorialize him. While Michelle and our three boys, Zachary, Benny, and Jacob, never got to meet Paul, the Tikkun is one of the many ways we try to let his spirit live and make his presence felt.
Paul loved the arts. He sang, played guitar and drums, and acted in the theatre. He loved to cook, drink wine, and enjoy innovative foods. He also had a passion for learning and reading. I remember him always with a book in his hand, excited to tell a story about something he had just learned. Paul was a proud Jew who loved Jewish traditions. The Tikkun would have really stirred his passions; his only problem would have been choosing among the many great classes to attend at any one time. He was an early riser, so might have also had a tough time making it to the 3 am class.
I really hope that from somewhere up in the sky, Paul is watching the Tikkun, excited to hear my friend Moshe and I teach some of the stories from the Tanach we never learned in day school. With his off-color sense of humor, Paul would have loved that.
I am eternally grateful to Rabbi Joy Levitt, who has conceptualized and engineered this amazing New York City tradition that, thanks to the pandemic and Zoom, has now gone global, and Sarah-Kay Lacks, who inherited the mantle and has done an amazing job with it. I am also so appreciative of my friend Moshe Horn, who worked with Sarah-Kay, Megan Whitman, and me to generate new and exciting topics and speakers for the Tikkun and always has a good idea to counter each of my bad ones.
I wish everyone a chag sameach, good health, and that you all will enjoy the Tikkun and treasure it as I do.
Board Member, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
We are so pleased to offer vibrant, comprehensive virtual programs such as this year's Tikkun Leil Shavuot, at no cost to the community. To help ensure that we are able to continue providing these opportunities for our community to come together during these difficult times, please consider making a donation to the JCC so we can sustain ourselves now and reopen strongly in the future.