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Hundreds Experience Shavuot with Chabad Centres Throughout the Country

Friday, 5 June, 2009 - 8:37 am

1525_icecream.jpgHundreds descended on Chabad centres around the country to participate in a wide array of events celebrating Shavuot – the festival which marks the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai some 3300 years ago.

Communities traditionally gather on the evening of Shavuot to participate in all night learning, while during the day they congregate to hear the Ten Commandments read from the Torah and to eat dairy foods.

This year Chabad centres provided these conventional festive activities as well as attracting a wide range of Jews from all walks of life with refreshing and modern activities.

The giving of the Torah is described in Chassidus as the ‘marriage’ of the Jewish people to G-d. At Chabad of Hendon, they took this metaphor quite literally combining a festive meal with sheva brachot celebrating the marriage of Esther Overlander and Mendel Plotke.

The dinner, attended by over 100 people, was followed by a late night ‘learnathon’ lead by Rabbi Dovid Katz.

“It was the first time I had ever been to a sheva brachot on Shavuot,” says one attendee. “I found it was a really unique way of internalising the message of the festival.”

Many were attracted to Chabad centres for the breadth of learning opportunities on offer. With subjects ranging from the traditional story of Ruth to the modern debate of science vs. religion, there was something to satisfy everyone.

In addition to the usual Torah classes, students in Cambridge enjoyed an evening of Medieval Jewish poetry hosted by Rabbi Reuven and Rochel Leigh.

“This Shavuot was certainly one of the most, or perhaps the most activity-filled Shavuot we’ve ever had,” notes Rabbi Yossi Alperowitz who co-directs Chabad of Bournemouth with his wife Chanie.

“As well as the classes and lots of ice-cream and cheesecake, we held prayer services which attracted over 90 people to come hear the Ten Commandments read from the Torah.”

Meanwhile, students in South London were offered a unique experience by Rabbi Dovid and Sora Cohen, co-directors of Chabad of South London Campuses.

“We hosted students for a cheese and wine evening in keeping with the dairy theme of the festival,” says Rabbi Cohen.

“There were at least two students who had never experienced Shavuot before in any shape or form. One student even heard the Ten Commandments read from the Torah for the first time.”

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