Jun 9, 2022
Celebrating Shavuot: Federation Supports Teaching the Torah to the Next Generation
Thanks to your generosity, the next generation is learning the Torah through a Congregation Shaarei Kodesh program, which is funded by the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
Rabbi David Baum of Congregation Shaarei Kodesh said one of the goals of the program, called “Spreading Torah, The Rabbi Hiyya Challenge,” is to build leadership and teach synagogue skills.
“We want to cultivate that inner Jewish spark,” he said. “To ignite that spark, you have to spread this to others.”
Because the program was launched near the end of the pandemic, Rabbi Baum said he wanted to get people back to Shul and to prepare people for in-person worship that was lost over the past two years. The hybrid class, with some meeting in-person and some online, was a success.
Understanding the importance of the Torah
One person described the program’s importance: “Taking this class makes me want to take more Torah classes. As I realize the more I learn, the more I do not know. And while I participate in services, I would like to understand more meaning behind the Saturday services, such as the order of prayers, why we move our feet and bow our heads. I am also motivated to learn trope! By delving in more depth to Torah and all that surrounds it -- the service, the books, the history -- I have gained a new dimension of respect and awe for this fundamental foundation of Judaism.
They also described the impact of learning something new about Judaism: “I learned how Torah was originally spread - via oral tradition and who was able to receive it – everyone! I also learned that Torah is for all Jews - and was always for all Jews! I also learned about the origin of Torah trope and that there are many varieties of trope, depending on where you are from/live. I also learned some of the customs - like why we raise our pinky when the Torah is lifted, why the Torah is behind a veil and the symbolism to when we received the Torah on Mount Sinai. I especially enjoyed Rabbi Baum's teaching style and high level of passion and engagement for the subject. He really helped motivate the class discussion.”
One message of Shavuot: Torah speaks to each person in a unique way
The program’s success underscores the significance of Shavuot. Shavuot, the feast of weeks, is celebrated seven weeks after the second Passover seder. Although Shavuot began as an ancient grain harvest festival, the holiday has been identified since biblical times with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
“One of the essential messages of the holiday of Shavuot is that the Torah speaks to each person in a unique and personal way, and yet, it binds us as a people. On Shavuot, we recommit ourselves and our people to our everlasting covenant to God, Torah, and Israel,” Rabbi Baum said.
“Our ‘Spreading Torah’ participants had a ‘taste’ of what our Torah has to offer, a similar experience that we all have on Shavuot. On Shavuot, Jews study all night to recapture the feeling of the Revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai thousands of years ago. Our ‘Spreading Torah’ class, like Shavuot, is just the beginning of our connection to Torah. It is up to each one of us to take those next steps so our Torah can spread throughout the world and endure for all time.”