Frankel Jewish Academy freshman Brody Fleishman wonders why Shavuot doesn’t get the same treatment as the other Jewish holidays.

So here we are: The end of the Hebrew month of Iyar is around the corner, with it possibly already having passed by the time this article has been published in the Jewish News. The 2021-2022 school year will be coming to a close, with the summer being in sight. 

The seniors at FJA have already graduated, with April 29 being their last day.  They embarked on a trip to Israel on May 15. My own class, the freshmen of FJA, went to Montana to visit the Northern Cheyenne, who are a group of Native Americans residing slightly northeast of Yellowstone National Park.  

With all of the distractions and events out of the way, it’s about time to reveal the main focus point of this article: the upcoming and recent Jewish holidays.  

To start, there have been three modern Jewish holidays and memorial days that have been commemorated recently: Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. This year, all three of them fell on dates when we had school, so we got the chance to commemorate them during school. The schedule was adjusted to set aside time for special ceremonies and activities. 

However, unlike the three holidays/memorial days mentioned above, the next holiday is one where there is no school (if one attends a Jewish school that is). Shavuot has always been one of those obscure holidays to me. My family doesn’t typically do anything special during this time except to go to a friend’s house for a meal.  

Brody Fleishman
Brody Fleishman

For most other yom tov holidays (like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, certain days of Passover, etc.), my family will either go to services or do something at home for them.  This is not the case for Shavuot, which is spent like a normal weekend or snow day when there’s no school.  

Furthermore, because the holiday is in close proximity to the end of the school year, school trips, other important events/days and more, the holiday often feels like it is glossed over, with not much attention being put on it.  

It’s not like this is a small holiday either. It is one of the three harvest festivals, or Shalosh Regalim, with the other two being Sukkot and Pesach.  In addition, we count down to Shavuot with the Omer, which is a 49-day period from the second day of Passover to Shavuot.

There is an additional reason as to why Shavuot is more obscure than other holidays. When compared to celebrations such as Passover and Chanukah, Shavuot is not commercialized in the slightest. While these holidays see entire sections of stores dedicated to them, community events for children and more, Shavuot rarely, if at all, gets any of these. 

However, even though the signs don’t point to it being an important date, it actually is. As mentioned earlier, it’s one of the three harvest festivals; although this was a bigger deal in ancient times, this would in theory put it on a similar level to Sukkot and Pesach.  In addition, Shavuot is when the Jewish people received the Torah, a momentous occasion to say the least.

To end, I would like to pose a question: Why do you think Shavuot is more of a “hidden holiday” even though it has such a significant background and meaning? What can we do to bring hidden holidays like Shavuot into the spotlight? 

Brody Fleishman is a freshman at Frankel Jewish Academy and a graduate of Hillel Day School.

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