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Shavuot 5784-2024 at FTJC

image of manuscript with handwritten hebrew text descending from above to below

In smoke and fire, concealed and revealed, the Torah comes to us as a gift from God. On Shavuot, we open ourselves at night to receive the Torah, and enact our presence at Mount Sinai in the morning with Torah reading and celebration.

As in recent years we are pleased to offer learning both overnight and the following afternoon, as well as a community picnic and ice cream truck!

Join us too for festival prayers, joyful and song-filled Hallel, and chanting of the Ten Commandments. Hear the once-a-year sacred poetry of “Akdamut” the four-chapter, four-handkerchief love story of Ruth. Yizkor will be held on Day 2 to honor and bless the memory of our deceased family and friends.

Quick Links:

Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Day 1 Services and Learning Opportunities

Day 2 Services and Community Picnic


Tikkun Leil Shavuot — All Night Torah Study!

Tuesday June 11, 9:30 PM, through Wednesday June 12, 7:00 AM
Ma'ariv at 9:30 PM
Classes from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM
Early Shacharit Service from 5:00 to 7:00 AM
Location: Fort Washington Collegiate Campus

Fueled by caffeine and cheesecake, light-headed from lack of sleep, we enter an altered state of mind and body that can open us up to new insights. New friends may also be revealed as we gather, laugh, and learn.

This year's theme: "Wilderness" -- Why was the Torah given in the wilderness, the Midbar? What is special about this in-between place? What can we learn about the essence of Torah, and the path of Torah, from that particular stage in the life of the Jewish people? As we pass through periods of wilderness in our own lives, what strength can we draw from the Midbar as a dimension of Torah?

Coffee, cheesecake, and other treats will be available.

Space will also be available for independent learning on one's own or with a study partner.

10:00 PM - “Receiving Fat Torah in the Wilderness of Diet Culture” with Rebecca Galin 
Get a taste of fat liberation and learn some fat celebratory Torah! We will ground ourselves in the Fat Liberation Manifesto before delving into sources from a variety of places in the Jewish canon. 
Rebecca Galin is a rising fifth-year rabbinical student at JTS who is most commonly known at FTJC as the lady with all the fruit dresses.

11:00 PM - “Torah for Flesh and Blood” with Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish
A couple of fascinating midrashim in the Talmud reflect on the effect of Revelation on the bodies or flesh (not just the minds) of the Israelites. We will explore these midrashim together and discuss what these images might teach about how we are meant to live Torah. 
Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish is faculty at Hadar and a senior coach for Hadar's Pedagogy of Partnership.

12:00 AM - “Saw You at Sinai? – Two Approaches to Revelation and Inclusion” with Rabbi Guy Austrian
We'll study and compare two contemporary midrashim by women (from the recent Israeli women's anthology Dirshuni), which take radically different approaches to women's presence at Mount Sinai -- and therefore to the nature and source of revelation, what it means to take our place at Sinai, and whether we even need to. 
Rabbi Guy has been the spiritual leader of FTJC since 2013.

1:00 AM - “‘A Few Customs Which There Aren’t in Our Land:’ Feminist Approaches to the Study and Use of Premodern Jewish Ritual” with Nesya Nelkin
In a traditional egalitarian community such as ours, we are both engaged with past Jewish thought and practice and invested in modifying that practice to reflect our egalitarian values. For some members of such communities, that process of engagement and modification involves attempts to identify and emulate a historical “women’s culture” or “women’s rituals,” and/or attempts to “reclaim” gendered practices that have fallen out of fashion. In this shiur we will explore the possibilities and limitations of such approaches to the past and present of Jewish ritual through the lens of medieval Ashkenazi wedding customs. 
Nesya Nelkin is a PhD student in Jewish History at Columbia University, where she researches late medieval Jewish women’s religious activities, with particular attention to women’s synagogue space and rabbinic ideas about gendered spatial boundaries in Ashkenaz and northern Italy.

2:00 AM -  “‘They Said to Him, May God Bless You’: Living with(out) God in the Book of Ruth” with Akiva Mattenson
When seen as a unit, the five megillot are connected by the ambiguous presence and absence of God that marks them. Our liturgical cycle allows us to experience these megillot as an extended reflection on what it means to live a life with(out) God. Together, we'll explore what insight the book of Ruth offers in this regard, and why it might be fitting to read this megillah on the festival of Shavuot. 
Akiva Mattenson is in his final year of semichah (rabbinic ordination) at Yeshivat Hadar.

3:00 AM - “God's Secret Crying Room: Weeping in Public and in Private” with Jamie Schwartz
When and why does God cry? The Talmud in Chagigah 5b claims to know the answers. In our exploration of this text we will consider the connections between Torah, grief, and pride.
Jamie Schwartz is a third year student at Yeshivat Maharat and a teacher at Prozdor.

4:00 AM - “Torah MiSinai: L’dor Vador” with Ariel Dunat
In this shiur, we will discuss the concept of Torah miSinai (that the entire Torah was given at Mount Sinai) through several classical and modern approaches. Participants are encouraged to challenge, inquire, and reflect on these and their own approaches to revelation.
Ariel Ya’akov Dunat (they/הוא) is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, with a focus in halakhah and a passion for theology.

5:00 AM - Shacharit (Dawn Service)


Shavuot Day 1

Morning Services
Wednesday June 12, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Children's programming at 10:45 in classrooms.
Location: Fort Washington Collegiate Campus

Featuring “Akdamut” (“Introductory Words”) — a strange and beautiful Aramaic poem that introduces the Shavuot reading of the Ten Commandments with sweeping theology and a vision of redemption. Please note the early version of the service offered at 5:00 AM following the Tikkun Leil Shavuot (see above). All are welcome at either.

Daytime Torah Learning
Wednesday June 12, 3:00-5:00 PM
Location: Fort Washington Collegiate Campus

Learning for grownups in the Atrium from 3:00-5:00 PM. Learning and games for children in the garden (or a classroom) from 3:00-5:00. A great opportunity for all who can't do the late-night study but would like to partake in Torah discussion on Shavuot! 

3:00 PM - “Our Companions on the Journey: Ethical Pet Ownership and Animal Care” with Noa Rubin
How can we best care for our furry friends who accompany us in the wilderness of life? Come learn and discuss some halachic sources dealing with ethical pet ownership.
Noa Rubin is a rising fourth year rabbinical student at JTS with lots of love for her black lab Snoopy, Jewish education, and halachah.

4:00 PM - “The Language of Our Journey” with Aviva Kamens
The book of Bamidbar wraps up with an extensive list of all the places that B'nei Yisrael stopped at on their journey through the wilderness. In this interactive session, we'll think about what the names of those places can tell us about the arc of their journey--and our own.
Aviva Kamens is a kindergarten and first grade Judaic Studies teacher at Luria Academy of Brooklyn.


Shavuot Day 2

Morning Services, with Megillat Ruth and Yizkor
Thursday June 13, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Children's programming at 10:45 in classrooms.
Location: Fort Washington Collegiate Campus

Join us for Megillat Ruth, the original classic of love and loyalty — taking us from the harvest origins of Shavuot, through wrenching human relationships, to the footsteps of Messiah. We’ll also hold a Yizkor service around 10:30 AM – with psalms, readings, and the liturgy of mourning, we call to mind those who have left our world. Donations in honor of Yizkor may be made to FTJC by clicking here.

Day 2 Community Picnic
Thursday June 13, 12:30-2:30 PM
Location: Cafe Lawn in Fort Tryon Park
Join us after morning services. Bring your own dairy/pareve lunch, as well as blankets to sit on and games to play. (Weather permitting.)

Ice Cream Truck
Thursday June 13, 2:00-4:00 PM
Location: Next to Javits playground, Fort Washington Ave near Margaret Corbin Circle.
Come to the Mr. Softee truck that parks right outside the Jacob Javits playground. Vouchers will be available there from FTJC volunteers, as well as at our Shavuot learning and services. These are pre-paid vouchers that you can trade in for either one free serving of soft serve (chocolate or vanilla in a cone or cup with your choice of sprinkles) or a vegan icee. The vouchers can be used on Thursday June 13 between 2:00-4:00 PM. Kashrut note: Although the truck is not supervised, Mr. Softee ice cream mix, cones, and sprinkles have a hechsher.


Sat, June 22 2024 16 Sivan 5784