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SHAVUOT 2018 / 5778












Chag Sameach! 
Shavuot @ Adas Israel - "The Late Lounge"
70 Faces of Revelation Shivim Panim Shel Matan Torah

Beginning Saturday Evening, May 19

You stood at the foot of the mountain. Your grandparents and great-grandparents before them. The souls of all Jews, from all times, came together to hear the resounding proclamation of the Ten Commandments! This year at Adas we come together again, like our ancestors before us, to learn, give, commit, countdown, have faith, and eat.

On this holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah, our eternal guide, we will unpack and expand upon the famous rabbinic commentary teaches: there are 70 faces to Torah. In other words, our holy book is so expansive that each of us can see ourselves within it. But this also means there is a remarkable uniqueness to its initial dissemination amongst the Israelite people—a Sinai of the past, present, and future. Together we’ll explore this idea, textually, while also talking together about the ways in which this divine diversity finds itself within our own community here at Adas Israel.


Full Shavuot Schedule at Adas

Erev Shavuot, Saturday, May 19 Light Candles at 8:59pm
7:15pm 5 Rabbis, 5 Ways, 5 Revelations Join Rabbis Holtzblatt, Alexander, Rosenbaum, Yolkut and Schwartz as each of them presents a short, thought-provoking interpretation of our theme. A Torah-Slam like you’ve never experienced!
8:45pm Special Yom Tov Ma’ariv led by Cantor Arianne Brown
9:00pm Kiddush and Motzi
9:15pm Break-out Text-Learning Sessions

  • Dr. Edna Friedberg — Notebooks and Milk Cans: Spiritual Resistance in the Ghettos of Nazi Europe (Gewirz Beit Am)
  • William Liss-Levinson, Ph.D. -- The Potential for Transformation: Three Commandments That Never Were and Never Will Be (Biran Beit Midrash)
  • Danny Weininger -- Being in Two Places at Once: What Quantum Physics can teach us about standing at Sinai (Charles E. Smith Sanctuary)

9:15pm Outside Torah Experience Opens (Food!!)
10:30pm Something New! Join Rabbis Alexander and Holtzblatt on the patio for lots of singing and a Communal Moment of (Spontaneous) Blessings - We need them!

Shavuot Day 1, Sunday, May 20 Light Candles at 9:00pm
9:15am Combined Charles E. Smith Sanctuary & Traditional Egalitarian Minyan Service
11:00am Shavuot Nature Hike for Families with Young Children

6:00pm Mincha/ Maariv/ Kabbalat Chag

Shavuot Day 2, Monday, May 21
9:15am All invited to the service in the Charles E. Smith Sanctuary Service
11:00am Yizkor

1:00pm Mincha


Leading up to the Mountain, Counting the Omer
Shavuot literally means “weeks” as it occurs precisely seven weeks after the second day of Passover. The forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuot are known as s’firat haomer (the counting of the omer), reminiscent of the days when farmers brought a measure (omer) of their newly harvested grain to the Temple. Join us during Ma’ariv each evening to count the Omer, and ritualistically add a portion of wheat to the row of glass jars in the front lobby, as an expression of our experience of counting.  

The Erev Learning
On the first night of Shavuot (this year, Saturday evening, May 19), Jews throughout the world observe the centuries-old custom of conducting an all-night gathering dedicated to Torah learning and preparation for receiving the Torah anew the next morning. At Adas, learners of all ages will have the opportunity to span their knowledge and learn Torah. Children will have the opportunity to reenact the Exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah, and adults will have multiple learning sessions to choose from with our dynamic Clergy.

"The Late Lounge” An Outdoor Shavuot Late Night Experience at Adas
Spend the late hours of Erev Shavuot with the moon, the stars and the Torah. Journey outdoors to our re-imagined desert oasis (on the transformed Connecticut Ave. Plaza); enjoy freshly roasted coffee, mint tea and sweets from around the world; drink Shavuot Shooters and coffee-themed cocktails; lounge out under our tents to the tune of smooth desert beats, niggunim, and soulful words of Torah from an array of DC area rabbis.

Shavuot Nature Hike for Families with Young Children 
Sunday, May 20 @ 11am

Each year, on the holiday of the Shavuot, the Jewish calendar gives us the opportunity to ritualize and reenact the sacred obligation of receiving the Torah. On this holiday, we cultivate the space to realize the constant and consistent flow of holiness - Torah - from heaven to earth, and earth back to heaven. In other words, Torah, in all its forms, fills the world, ready to be claimed by any of us, and then cradled, distilled, debated, and disseminated.
Prepare to reimagine Mount Sinai, together with other Families with Young Children, on a spiritual nature hike (weather permitting) on the first day of Shavuot. The hike will be small child friendly, but not stroller friendly. All are invited to join the congregational kiddush when we return.

Sefirat HaOmer

Beginning on the second night of Passover we begin to count 49 days, 7 weeks until we reach the wheat harvest and Revelation at Mount Sinai on Shavuot. We call this time the Sefirat HaOmer or “Counting of the Omer.” The Omer is counted each night after the sun goes down- if one forgets, you can say the blessing all day until nightfall the next evening.


Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with
His commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.

We will be physically counting the omer in the lobby @Adas during evening Minyan. If you pass by you will see a jar with a stalk of wheat added each day in recognition of this waiting period. Stop for a moment, count, meditate, breathe- Take a moment to think about what you are longing for in this season.

A Reflection on Sefirat HaOmer by Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt:

There is a different space of the journey of everyday, of marking time not through major accomplishments or milestones, but through the sun rising and setting of marking the passage of time, of hammering at something slowly, patiently over a contemplative period of time.  This is the Omer. 

We begin counting the Omer on the second night of Passover and we count every night until we get to 49 and arrive at the holiday of Shavuot- matan Torah (the giving of the Torah).  In ancient times the counting was a marking of the agricultural calendar- one would plant their wheat at Pesach and harvest it 7 weeks later.  Shavuot is one of the shelosh regalim, one of the 3 times of year people would make pilgrimage to the Temple (the others being Sukkot and Passover). On Shavuot first fruits were brought to the Temple as a way of giving thanks for the abundance that God had provided. 

We have become disconnected with the counting of the Omer because we are urban- we do not rely on the small plantings we make in our city gardens to eat, we do not watch an entire harvest spring from the ground and we do not have a Temple where we can offer our first fruits.

So the ritual of counting the Omer needs a reset.  A way of connection in the modern world to link the time between our liberation (Passover) to  our revelation and receiving of Torah (Shavuot).  The most remarkable days are those of the quiet rhythm of our lives.  Waking up without the rush- the steady movement forward- gentle and calm.  The time to dig our hands into our relationships, our work- the planting.  The time for reflection, noticing, and being- awaiting the harvest.  And finally the joy of our first fruits- which we can only gather after we have had the discipline of sowing, planting, and waiting.  Something will always emerge out of the ground. 

There is a reason we don’t recite shehecheyanu each night of the counting of the Omer. Rabbi Levi Yitzhak, the Kedushat Levi writes, “during the counting of the Omer, people are in anticipation of when the counting will be completed. They want the completion to arrive soon so they can experience closeness to the divine. Were they to have the capacity to complete the counting in an instant and be immediately able to enter into the closeness, how good and how pleasant it would be. This is why we do not recite shehecheyanu upon counting the Omer.”

The shehecheyanu would imply that we have arrived to a particular moment.  But this time is about the steady, continuous journey, not the arrival.  We’ll know when we have arrived and we’ll be ready then to offer our first fruits.  This year we will again mark the Omer at Adas with a display in the Quebec street entrance where we will add a jar and a wheat stalk every day.  With each jar we get closer.  Let’s use this time to linger, to notice, to plant, and to allow the Torah of our deepest selves to emerge.  I look forward to seeing you at Sinai. 

Wed, January 23 2019 17 Shevat 5779