An often-overlooked spring holiday, Shavuot commemorates the moment when God gave the Torah to the Jewish people. For generations, Jews have celebrated with communal Torah study sessions, called “Tikkun Leyl Shavuot,” that last long into the night, often until dawn. Because of coronavirus, most tikkunim are taking place virtually this year. Although you can’t gather with your synagogue community, the shift online means you can participate in tikkunim around the country, mixing and matching classes from rabbis, thinkers, writers, and performers.
Wondering how to get started? Here are 18 tikkunim you can attend without leaving home.
The Atlanta Rabbinical Association (ARA) will host a community-wide virtual Tikkun Leil Shavuot on Thursday, May 28th, beginning at 6 p.m., with multiple tracks and prayer services. Teachers will include: 2018 James Beard winner Michael Twitty, Rabbi Brad Artson of the American Jewish University, Dr. Judith Hauptman of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Professor Paul Wolpe of Emory University, and many Atlanta community rabbis and educators.
“Come and Learn” is an all-night Baltimore virtual learning experience, beginning on Thursday, May 28 at 7 p.m. Participants include 19 local synagogues and organizations, with more than 60 sessions taught by Baltimore clergy, educators, and lay volunteers.
Temple Israel of Boston will hold a community Tikkun Zoom Shavuot from 5 p.m., Thursday, May 28th to 6 a.m., Friday, May 29. The program will feature 25 hours of varied programming from Torah, to Jewish prayer, art making music, and cocktail making 101 with a Jewish twist. The event is held in partnership for the Center for Jewish Learning at Hebrew College, Temple Ohabei Shalom, and Temple Beth Zion.
The 6th Annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot in Boston’s MetroWest will feature a presentation by Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva in Los Angeles, an evening service, and workshops ranging from Torah, Jewish history and philosophy, and the environment to no-bake cheesecake, meditation, music, and dance taught by clergy and lay volunteers from the 13 participating organizations. The event will be held on Thursday evening, May 28 from 6 – 11 p.m., with a program for young families at 5 p.m.
Boston’s JP Community Tikkun – co-sponsored by Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue, Kavod, and Beyn Kodesh l’Chol — will include learning in chevruta or pairs, large groups, singing, and time for virtual connection from Thursday, May 28 at 8:30 p.m. until Friday, May 29 at 12:30 a.m.
The Lakeview Jewish community, across denominations, has come together for over 20 years to celebrate Shavuot by staying up all night to study a wide variety of Jewish subjects. Because they cannot be together for this annual event, this year they are recreating elements on Saturday night May 30th via Zoom, including: a community havdalah ceremony with six rabbis from the local congregations and communities. There will also be classes taught by both clergy and lay people, with multiple sessions offered until 1:00 a.m. CST.
DAWN: An All-Night Cultural Arts Festival Celebrating Shavuot DAWN is Reboot’s all-night interpretation of Shavuot, produced in association with Jewish Emergent Network. Gathering digitally, participants will spend the night immersed in the arts, music, comedy, food, film, learning and conversation. With three concurrent tracks of programming spanning through the morning, DAWN will feature dozens of sessions with artists, teachers, and rabbis such as: Jill Soloway; Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Steven Drozd (Flaming Lips) & Scott Amendola; Tiffany Shlain; Kasher vs. Kasher; John Schott; Gabi Moskowitz; Joey Ryan (Milk Carton Kids); Michaela Watkins; Zackary Drucker, and rabbis and leaders of the Jewish Emergent Network. The program will be held on May 28-29, 2020 from 7 p.m. – 6 a.m PDT / 10pm-9am EDT.
This community-wide 14-Hour Tikkun Leil Shavuot, will take place on Wednesday, May 27. Rabbis from across Houston and across the denominations will be teaching on such topics such as: “Ethics of War in Judaism,” “Revelation in Pop Culture,” and “Superman as an Example of Vision, Authority, and Power.”
Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles and JewItAtHome.com are partnering with synagogues across Los Angeles and Israel to bring a digital Shavuot experience to the Jewish community worldwide. By coordinating meaningful programming - including traditional, experiential, and interfaith learning and even halachically sensitive options - they hope to provide an engaging and thought provoking experience. In a year where we are all feeling physically isolated, this Shavuot experience seeks to bring together our hearts, minds, and souls.
Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California offers a variety of virtual Tikkun opportunities and services, including a Tot Shavuot service for young families, as well as Torah Study and services for adults and older children. The congregation is also participating in the Conservative movement’s Tikkun Leil Shavuot program and “Jew It at Home,” a collaborative Los Angeles initiative.
New York City
The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan will host its 16th Annual Paul Feig Z”L Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a special night of learning, dancing, discussion, and cheesecake from 9 p.m. on May 28 until 5 a.m. on May 29. This year’s iteration will be held on Zoom, feature a lineup of programs and speakers who will frame Shavuot in a new way — exploring how to celebrate a pilgrimage holiday when people can’t go anywhere, can’t gather, and still express gratitude during a pandemic. The program is held in memory of Paul Feig, who tragically lost his life in a car accident in 1998. The event is free and registration is required.
Known as BZBI, this temple is partnering with Center City Kehillah in celebrating Shavuot with a series of programs from Tuesday, May 26 – Friday, May 29 taught by clergy, professors, and lay volunteers, including special programming for young children. Sessions include such topics as “Torah and Triage: Life Lessons in a Pandemic,” “Jews in Sports & Israeli Baseball and Basketball,” and “Kabbalistic Healing,” as well as a virtual ice cream party. Recordings will be available after the holiday for those whose Shavuot observance does not include the use of technology. Preregistration is required.
The Pittsburgh Jewish community will host “A Night of Virtual Learning: Tikkun Leil Online,” on May 27, the night before the holiday so all can participate. Well-known local rabbis and thinkers will teach sessions on such topics as “From Ruth to Coronavirus,” “Trauma and Comfort at Mt. Sinai,” and “Kindness: Before, During, and After COVID-19,” and “Humor and the Sacred.” Three sets of 50-minute sessions run from 9:00 p.m. to 11:50 p.m. EDT. Preregistration is required.
This year, the St. Louis Jewish community will offer two community-wide learning opportunities: a series of events in the days prior to the holiday and a community zoom event on Thursday night, May 28th beginning at 7:30 p.m. CDT.
On Thursday evening, May 28, the Miles Nadal JCC in downtown Toronto will hold a virtual night of community, study, snacking and more. The Tikkun will include live sessions throughout the evening; pre-recorded ‘Torah Slams’ from downtown rabbis and leaders; and a self-guided supplement sourced from community leaders that reinterpret and reimagine traditional Jewish texts and open new community conversations. The program will begin at 7 p.m. EDT.
Everywhere and Anywhere
The Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly will host a 12-hour livestreamed event for coast to coast learning, starting 9pm EDT on Thursday, May 28th Pre-recorded segments will be available during the week leading up to Shavuot for those who wish to learn but not on the holiday. Classes will be taught by leading rabbis from across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. Topics include “The Torah of Streaming,” “Coming out of Isolation: Lessons from the Solitude of Revelation,” and the “Secret Meaning of the Adam and Eve Story.”
This year, the Reform Movement has come together to create a variety of digital experiences – including discussion, music, prayer, and poetry – designed to resonate with all types of Torah learners and to help the observance of Shavuot from home or with a congregation. This four-hour evening of online learning, music, prayer, and poetry with Reform rabbis, cantors, and professors from Hebrew Union College will take place on Thursday, May 28, beginning at 8:00 p.m. EDT. https://urj.org/blog/2020/05/14/resources-and-opportunities-celebrating-shavuot-your-community
The first-ever Moishe House Global Shavuot Festival will spread across continents, over a 25-hour period from Friday, May 29 through Saturday, May 30. This event will feature interactive programming and casual TED Talks on topics such as “Jewish Sexuality and the Myth of a Judeo-Christian Sex Ethic” and “What Podcasts Can Teach Us About Jewish Values.”
18 Tikkun Leyl Shavuot to help you celebrate the holiday — wherever you are
Paula Jacobs is a writer in the Boston area.