This week, as we prepare for Chag Shavuot, Israel is on our minds and in our hearts. Hearing the sad and frightening news about rockets, rioting, and civil strife draws our thoughts immediately to our Israeli brethren, family, and friends. We check to make sure they are okay, both physically and emotionally. And, our hearts ache for everyone in the regionregardless of nationality or religionaffected by ripples of hurt and mistrust. To all, we offer prayers for refuah and prayers for peace.  

Chag Shavuot is also Chag Matan Torah, commemorating the moment when B’nai Israel received the Torah at Har Sinai. Today, we came together with our bubbies, zaides, sabbim, saftot, and other intergenerational family and friends to once again “receive” Torahto learn together.

Another name for Shavuot is Chag Habikkurim, the “festival of first fruits.” In ancient times, farmers from around Eretz Israel made a pilgrimageעליה לרגל (aliya laregel)to Jerusalem to bring offerings of their first crops of the season. At Heschel, it has been our tradition for many years to reenact this pilgrimage on the Heschel Field, dressed in traditional white, wearing flower garlands, and singing songs. This year, we made our aliya virtually—yet with no less joy and commitment. 

My hope on this day is that we all imagine ourselves making a “virtual,” imaginative pilgrimage to Yerushalayim, carrying in our baskets offerings of prayer, fruits of hope, and gleanings from Torah to bring about lasting peace for the people of Israel and their neighbours.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,

Moreh Greg