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Alte Synagoge in Baden-Baden, Architekt: Ludwig Levy, 1899 erbaut, 1938 zerstört

 

Shavuot

Just like the others, the second of the three pilgrimage festivals has a natural meaning and historical significance. In biblical times, during this feast the first harvested fruits were carried to the temple in Jerusalem as an offering of thanks. Even today, all the synagogues are decorated with fresh foliage and flowers. “Shavuot” means “weeks”. There are seven weeks between Pesach, the beginning of barley harvest, and Shavuot, the beginning of the wheat harvest.

The religio-historical meaning of Shavuot is based on remembrance of the revelation on Mount Sinai and the proclamation of The Ten Commandments. The Bible says that Moses received the Ten well-known Commandments and many others at Mount Sinai during the wandering of the people of Israel through the desert. These commandments are part of the first formulated moral laws in human history. The alliance between God and “His people” is based on the recognition of these commandments. The Israelites accepted the obligation of obeying the divine commandments and to spread them throughout the world. The formulation “the chosen people”, then, has to be understood in this sense.

Many traditions have emerged in relation to the festival of Shavuot. They have replaced key symbols from other pilgrimage festivals (Pesach: matzo; Sukkot: foliage hut): well-known among these are curd cake and cheese-cake which are baked with rich ingredients and are available in abundance. According to tradition, it is important to spend the first night studying the Jewish doctrine. During the twilight of the morning dawn, prayers take place. This is a night of teaching and learning, whether in one’s community (more generally) or with a circle of friends. In either case, it is certainly a dignified commemoration of the revelation at Mount Sinai.