(A variety of Israeli-made cheese)
Hebrew holidays all seem to have a strong connection to the land and nature somehow. No better example for this than tonight's holiday Shavuot, the holiday of cheese. Well, it's not really the holiday celebrating cheese, but with a strong food element to every Jewish holiday (except Yom Kippur), this holiday's menu is milk-based.
Shavuot celebrates the end of the counting of Omer period, and the occasion when the Israelites were given the Torah (Bible) on Mount Sinai. One of the Shelosh Regalim —— the three pilgrimage festivals to Jerusalem — Shavuot (which means "Festival of the Weeks") is also known as the Festival of Reaping and the Day of the First Fruits. Christians call it Pentecost. Besides this being the day when the Torah was given, Shavuot was in ancient times the season of the grain harvest. And it was the day when people could bring the first fruits (bikkurum) to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The fruits from this ancient agrarian society included the "Seven Species" from the land of Israel and they were wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. In a parade, farmers would tie reeds around the first ripened fruits from their land and offer them to the Kohens (priests), who were not allowed to own their own land.
Now if you live in Israel or are an observant Jew in the Diaspora, you might not need this prelude to what we wanted to write about today, and that is the Heschel Center's online webinar about Shavuot and its connection to the environment.
Called Lu'ach Ve'Ru'ach - The Hebrew Calendar, Shavuot, Justice and the Earth the Heschel Center (one of our favorite enviro organizations) invites you to tune into the online seminar which opens this Thursday when it is hosted by Jeremy Bensteinhttp://www.heschel.org.il/eng/Judaism6 , the deputy director of the Heschel Center, and author of The Way Into Judaism and the Environment. Benstein offers a few opportunities to explore the connection between the environment and Shavuot. Read his essay about the connection between Shavuot, the land and the environment.
According to Karen from Green Prophet, there are three ways to participate in the upcoming webinar:
Presentation: Take a look at the power point presentation about Judaism, the Jewish calendar and its relation to natural cycles, and Jewish attitudes towards the earth.
Forum Discussion: Participate in the online forum and write your responses to the presentation and any questions. Jeremy will respond to all comments.
Live Q&A;: In addition to the online forum, there will be two one-hour forum sessions where Jeremy will be online and respond to comments in real time. Jeremy will hold these sessions on Thursday June 12, 22:30 Israel time and on Sunday June 22, 22:30 Israel time.
(image: miss pupik)