Shavuot, on 6th and 7th Sivan in the Jewish calendar, celebrates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It lasts for one day in Israel and two days in the Diaspora. Our prayers and customs on Shavuot try to replicate the excitement of the receiving of the Torah.

For example, shuls are decorated with flowers to replicate those which covered Mount Sinai and we eat dairy foods, most famously cheesecake, to signify that we learned the laws of Kashrut when the Torah was given. Many communities maintain the practice of ‘Tikkun Leil Shavuot’ on and through the first night of Shavuot until morning, with opportunities for Torah study and learning Jewish ideas.

Tuesday 11th June 2024

  • Shavuot begins on Tuesday evening 11th June. Light a long-lasting candle before lighting Yom Tov candles which are to be lit by 9:03pm (all times in this document are for London). Follow the instructions in your machzor and check your local community’s times for services; some communities light candles, pray, make kiddush and eat earlier that the latest candle lighting time, others wait until later.
  • The earliest time for for Shacharit is 2:42am. Some communities will start then, others later. Your rabbi will advise on when to put on a tallit and, if you haven’t slept at all since the previous night, which parts of the prayers might be omitted.

Wednesday 12th June 2024

  • Services include the reading detailing the giving and contents of the Ten Commandments, recorded in Shemot/Exodus chapters 19 and 20.
  • On the second night of Shavuot, some communities pray Maariv and light Yom Tov candles early at a similar time to the previous night, but no earlier than 7:34pm; others do so later. Nightfall, for those who wait until then to light candles for second night Shavuot should be lit from 10:23pm. Either way, candles are lit using the long-lasting candle.

Thursday 13th June 2024

  • Morning services include Yizkor – the prayer for remembering loved ones who have passed away – and the book of Ruth. Both can be recited at home if you are unable to attend the synagogue.
  • Yom Tov concludes at 10:24pm. The first and last brachot of Havdallah only are recited, with no spices or candle used.

The Koren Sacks Shavuot Machzor, Minhag Anglia Weinstein edition, offers a comprehensive guide to the prayers and practices of Shavuot as well as fascinating commentary and essays. It is available from Jewish bookshops and www.korenpub.com. Look out for more Shavuot content on our website and on our social media channels.

Chag Sameach!

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