Shavuot In the Community

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Shavuot liturgy is also distinctive for including two Aramaic "piyyutim" (medieval poems) that were meant to strengthen the people’s faith during the Crusades. Akdamut, written by 11th-century Rabbi Meir, who lived in Worms, Germany, is usually recited before the first Torah blessing. Yatziv Pitgam--a poem of praise and a prayer for protection written by Rabbenu Tam (1110-1171)--is read on the second day. A full Hallel (Psalms of praise) is said on both days of Shavuot.

Another distinctive part of Shavuot worship is the reading of the scroll of Ruth, traditionally read on the second day of the holiday. One reason for the association between Ruth and Shavuot is that that the story opens during harvest, which is when Shavuot falls.

As on other pilgrimage festivals, Yizkor is recited after the Torah reading on the second day for traditional Jews and on the first day for Reform Jews. A modern addition to the holiday in liberal Judaism is Confirmation, a ceremony for 15 or 16 year olds, confirming their life-long commitment to Judaism and Torah study.

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