You probably all know by now that I’m Israeli, so today I would like to tell you a little bit about my story, and how I used to celebrate Shavuot back in Israel.
Israel, the land of milk and honey, celebrates Shavuot in one big dairy festival. The best equivalent I can think of is Halloween when everything comes in orange and smell like pumpkin spice. Shavuot comes in one color; white, and one thing to eat; dairy.
But for me, Shavuot was always more than that.
I was fortunate enough to be born to a Kibbutznik Mom. A kibbutz is a form of settlement, born as a collective community that was traditionally based on agriculture.
My grandparents, Yehezkel and Yehudit Rizman, were Holocaust survivors that were brought to Kibbutz Yagur after the war and gave birth to my Mom, Yocheved Miriam. Long after my parents left the Kibbutz, we still used to visit every Shavuot and participate in the Kibbutz festival. A real festival of milk and honey, and a celebration of the BIKKURIM, the first fruits and harvest, just like the ancient Jews used to bring to the temple.
On that special day, everybody is making Teneh, A basket filled with fruits, wearing white and a flower crown.
There is always a big parade of the children of the Kibbutz, tractors carrying the year’s harvest, the cattle, goats, and chicken that was born during the year, and most importantly - the newborn children of the Kibbutz. There is always a lot of dancing and singing and the whole feeling is of one big celebration.
וְלָֽקַחְתָּ֞ מֵֽרֵאשִׁ֣ית | כָּל־פְּרִ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר תָּבִ֧יא מֵֽאַרְצְךָ֛ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָ֖ךְ וְשַׂמְתָּ֣ בַטֶּ֑נֶא וְהָֽלַכְתָּ֙ אֶל־הַמָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִבְחַר֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ לְשַׁכֵּ֥ן שְׁמ֖וֹ שָֽׁם
וּבָאתָ֙ אֶל־הַכֹּהֵ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִֽהְיֶ֖ה בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֑ם וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֣ אֵלָ֗יו הִגַּ֤דְתִּי הַיּוֹם֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ כִּי־בָ֨אתִי֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֧ע יְהֹוָ֛ה לַֽאֲבֹתֵ֖ינוּ לָ֥תֶת לָֽנוּ
וְלָקַ֧ח הַכֹּהֵ֛ן הַטֶּ֖נֶא מִיָּדֶ֑ךָ וְהִ֨נִּיח֔וֹ לִפְנֵ֕י מִזְבַּ֖ח יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ
That you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God, is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose to have His Name dwell there.
And you shall come to the kohen who will be [serving] in those days, and say to him, "I declare this day to the Lord, your God, that I have come to the land which the Lord swore to our forefathers to give us.”
And the kohen will take the basket from your hand, laying it before the altar of the Lord, your God.
HAPPY SHAVUOT JOYERS!