Belief in Brief: Shavuot

Friday, June 6, 2008 | 7:39 p.m. CDT; updated 1:09 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — One of the three major festivals of the Jewish faith, Shavuot, celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai as well as the harvest and bringing of the first fruits to the Temple.

Beginning at sundown on Sunday, Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks, marks the 50th day after Passover. According to, the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot represent the time it took the Jewish people to travel from Egypt, where they escaped the bondages of slavery, to Mount Sinai, which is where Moses received the Torah.

A central part of Shavuot is the reading or, in some cases, the re-enactment of the Book of Ruth.

To highlight the importance of this part of the holiday, Congregation Beth Shalom will show a video re-enactment of Ruth’s story on Sunday evening, preceded by a service. The congregation will also hold a service on Monday.

Ruth’s story, found in Scripture, begins after the death of her husband and father-in-law when the young woman leaves her home and family in Moab to follow and care for her mother-in-law, Naomi, in Judea. In traveling to Judea, Ruth also makes a commitment to the God of its people, the God of Israel. Ultimately, as a result of Ruth’s humility and commitment, she finds happiness and a secure future in marriage to the kind Boaz.

The God of Israel also bestows good fortune, or ostensible blessings, on other figures in the story who demonstrate kindness and loyalty, thus demonstrating the importance of unconditional love and loyalty as well as the compassion and grace of the God of Israel.

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