The Unknown Holiday
- The invisibility of Shavuot in the Jewish community is simply the reflection of a wider American problem.
By Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the president of Toward Tradition, a national coalition of Jews and Christians, and the author, most recently, of Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language.
May 25, 2001 9:10 a.m.
[…] Our communal leaders may express deep concern about Jewish “continuity,” but when they fund Holocaust memorials more lavishly than day schools, we have reason to doubt their sincerity.
So in this vein, let us compare the observance of two revered days on the Jewish calendar: the entirely secular Holocaust Remembrance Day, which fell last month, and the ancient festival of Shavuot, falling this year on May 28 & 29.
In the former case, enthusiastic Jews young and old crowded synagogues, temples, and Jewish Community Centers around the country. Holocaust survivors had their pictures not only in Jewish newspapers, but also in lavish spreads in the major dailies. Community leaders of every denomination warned us not to forget our history. And yet, just a few weeks later, on Shavuot, the day commemorating the giving of the Torah, when the people of Israel became a nation, most Jews will prefer to forget history. Year after year, in spite of its centrality to all of Jewish existence and its three prominent Scriptural references (Leviticus 23, Numbers 28, and Deuteronomy 16), Shavuot is trumped by Holocaust Remembrance Day.[…]