One of the highlights of this past year for me was the ruachfilled singing during our Tu B’Shevat Seder. I knew that I wanted to introduce Temple Beth Or to a tisch, gathering around a table to sing and share l’chaim’s and Torah wisdom. Tisch literally means table and traditionally refers to a gathering of Hasidim around their Rebbe. It may consist of speeches on Torah subjects, singing of Hasidic melodies known as niggunim, and refreshments. On June 7th we will gather to celebrate Shavuot and receiving our Torah with a night of singing and learning. For one night, I will be the Rebbe of Snohomish County!

The ORacle, June 2011 Issue

Shavuot is one of the less well know Jewish holidays. In the Torah, Shavuot was an agricultural holiday, marking the end of the grain harvest and the beginning of a new agricultural season during which the first fruits were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. Later, Shavuot came to be associated with the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. On Passover we celebrate freedom from our Mitzraim, our narrow places, and on Shavuot, our freedom is given purpose—collective commitment to living an ethical, rule-governed life of Divine purpose.

Shavuot is traditionally celebrated with an all-night study session called tikkun leil Shavuot. It is also common to eat cheesecake and other dairy foods, as the Torah is likened to milk and honey. Temple Beth Or’s Shavuot celebration will be in three parts, and participants can come to one session or all.

From 7:00-7:50pm, we will have our tisch with singing, and noshing, and l’chaims. Noah Zeichner will lead us in music. Together we will sing niggunim, along with some old favorites, and learn a few new songs as well.

From 8:00-8:50pm, I will lead a lively debate about the Revelation of Torah.   How in principle is it possible to believe in Revelation? Did these events take place? What was revealed?

From 9:00-9:45pm, Heidi Piel will lead a chevrutah study session (one-on-one Torah study wrestling with texts). If there are any hardy souls up for late night Torah, Heidi will stay as late as long as people can stay awake! It will be a rousing and thought-provoking evening with noshes to enhance learning, of course.

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On a different note, I would like to invite congregants to share stories and reflections this year during the High Holidays.  You can introduce a meaningful prayer, share a High Holiday memory, or speak about a theological or liturgical struggle you experience this time of year.  This is an opportunity to fully experience the High Holidays with your community and intersperse our services with the many voices of our congregation.  Please contact me with questions.

Hope to see you at the tisch!

Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall