Sign In Forgot Password

Shavuot 5778 at FTJC:  "Lashon Hakodesh - Holy Language"

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.

Join us for festival prayers, joyful and song-filled Hallel, and chanting of the Ten Commandments. Hear the once-a-year sacred poetry of “Akdamut.” And how can you miss 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!

Saturday, May 19, 10:00 PM, through Sunday May 31, 5:00 AM

Location: Hebrew Tabernacle, Social Hall

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:  As we receive the Holy Torah, we ask ourselves what it means to receive it in "Holy Language / Lashon Hakodesh." The Torah was given in 70 languages. What makes any of them holy? How do the forms of Hebrew script embody the Torah as blueprint of the Universe? How does Hebrew relate to Yiddish, Ladino, and other Jewish languages? What is "debate for the sake of heaven" and how do we handle disagreement? What are the consequences of Torah having multiple interpretations? How do we communicate in sacred ways in community, using the power of speech with care? Who gets the authority and opportunity to speak, hear, and teach the language of Torah? All this and more as we move through the deepening night, heading toward dawn.

We'll offer a series of scheduled learning sessions on this theme in the Social Hall, with additional space in the Library for independent study and hanging out -- plus coffee, cheesecake, and more in the Kitchen.

9:00 PM -- Maariv and Havdalah, followed by Setup (help is welcome!)

10:00 PM - 5:00 AM.  Schedule below. All teachers are part of the FTJC community:

10:00 PM: "Who Speaks Torah and Who Is Spoken?" with Rabbi Katie Greenberg. Through a re-examination of Hagar and Sarah's relationship story, we'll think about whose stories get amplified or suppressed in the text of Torah and how we read and interpret it. We will also look at some non-traditional Torah texts (Muslim poetry, feminist biblical scholarship) and think about what sources "count" as Torah. Rabbi Katie Greenberg was ordained this week from JTS with an MA in Jewish education and a certificate in pastoral care and counseling, and will be serving as director of engagement and programming at CSAIR in Riverdale.

11:00 PM: "70 Faces of Torah, 70+ Faces of FTJC," with Yael Sacks. This session will explore the concept of "notnim reshut zeh lazeh," the process of requesting and receiving "reshut" from others around us. "Reshut" can refer to permission or space, and we will explore ways in which practicing active listening can help us make room for ourselves and others to be our full selves in community. We will put this Torah into practice by studying excerpts from divrei torah written by FTJC members over the past 6 months. We will reflect on how these voices from our community can help us to grow our collective ability to give and receive "reshut." Yael Sacks is a teacher leader at Beit Rabban Day School.

12:00 AM: "Prayer in the Vernacular: Preferred or Not?" with Jonathan Katz. Though we are used to encouraging prayer in Hebrew, many of the Sages actively encouraged Jews to pray in their native language instead. In this shiur, we will look at some texts about how this opinion came about, and how prayer in Hebrew was seen as anything from an ideal to a "nice-to-have."  Jonathan Katz is a "writer-cum-accessibility dragon" for a New York City Agency by day and a "loud food and history nerd" at night.

1:00 AM: "Shemirat Halashon, Then and Now" with Talia Lakritz. The Chofetz Chaim wrote his famous book detailing the laws of shemirat halashon (guarding one's tongue against harmful speech) before "microaggressions" were a thing. In this session, we'll look at a few shemirat halashon topics and discover some fascinating parallels to contemporary challenges regarding the words we choose today. Talia Lakritz is both a Bais Yaakov and a Barnard graduate who works as a reporter at INSIDER.

2:00 AM: "Tactful Torah," with Matthew Lowe. An close reading of verbal and non-verbal "interventions" among characters in the Tanakh, with an eye towards understanding the virtues and vices, skills and stumbles in using words to support others. Matthew Lowe is a recently licensed mental health counselor.

3:00 AM: "When Lashon Hara Isn't Lashon Hara," with Jamie Weisbach. We'll be learning texts from the Chofetz Chaim that address when saying bad things about other people might not be bad, and might even be good. We'll discuss the limits and applications of this, and how or if these texts reshape our relationship to the discourse of Lashon Hara more broadly. Jamie Weisbach is a queer cat-lover, and permanent Yeshiva bum.

4:00 AM: "The Dream of a Common Language," with Rabbi Guy Austrian. Which do we long for more intensely--the clarity of perfect communication, or the diversity of multiple (mis)understandings--and why? We'll look at contemporary poetry by Jewish writers including Adrienne Rich, alongside traditional midrash about the Tower of Babel and Mount Sinai, to see how high we can climb. Rabbi Guy Austrian serves as spiritual leader of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center.

5:00 AM Early Shacharit in the Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall


Shavuot Day 1 – Morning Services
Sunday May 20, 8:30-11:00 AM
Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall; Children's games and activities with parent supervision in Classrooms 1 and 2.

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. We will be moving quickly through the service in order to accommodate the church, our fellow tenant at HT, that uses the space on Sundays.

Please note the early version of the service offered at 5:00 following the Tikkun Leil Shavuot (see above). All are welcome at either.

Shavuot Day 1 – Daytime Learning Opportunities!

Learning in Bennett Park, 3:00-5:30 PM (Rain location: 150 Bennett #2C)
Presenters list still in formation but will include Rabbi Joel Alter, Rabbi Katie Greenberg, and Seth Guthartz. Children are welcome to play nearby, and the presenters understand that adults may be in and out as they check in with their children. Please feel free to bring a blanket to share. The session will end with a siyyum of Masechet Berachot.

"Shavuot for Black Lives" with FTJC's Racial Justice Learning Chevruta, 4:00 PM,  Location: 220 Wadsworth #407.
After counting the "Omer for Black Lives," on Shavuot we will be studying selections from the Movement for Black Lives policy platform: A Vision for Black Lives in combination with Torah sources. If you've never attended a Racial Justice Hevruta event before, this is a great way to get involved. Please RSVP to for location.

Shorashim (3rd-5th Graders): Mitzvah Learning and Ice Cream!, 4:00-5:30 PM
Location: 720 Fort Washington Ave., Apt. 1K (Children can also be picked up from and returned to the Informal Learning in Bennett Park.)  Come join Shorashim for their own learning session about mitzvot with an awesome snacktivity! We will discuss all of the various categories of mitzvot, identify which mitzvot we already do, and discover some more mitzvot that are meaningful and interesting to us through a snacktivity! 

We will meet during the Informal Learning in Bennett Park! We will meet at the park, walk together to our location, and return to the park to meet up with the adults. 


Shavuot Day 2 – Morning Services, with Megillat Ruth and Yizkor
Monday May 21, 9:00 AM
Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall; Children's services in Classrooms 1 and 2 from 10:40 AM.

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 – with psalms, readings, and the liturgy of mourning, we call to mind those who have left our world. We wrestle with the blessings and burdens of their lives and our emembering. Donations in honor of Yizkor may be made to FTJC by clicking here.

Shavuot Day 2 – Community Picnic!
Monday May 21, 1:00 PM
Location: Cafe Lawn in Fort Tryon Park (enter from Margaret Corbin Circle and take a right on the first path toward the New Leaf Cafe).
Join us after morning services. Bring your own dairy/pareve lunch, as well as a blanket and lawn/ball games.

Fri, July 20 2018 8 Av 5778