This 2-day early-summer festival on the 31st May and 1st June has several names and significances. Its first name, Shavuot, translates as ‘weeks’, and refers to the command to count 7 full weeks between the beginning of Passover and the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The first day’s celebration on the 50th day of counting gives the second name, Pentecost. The 3rd name of the festival is ‘The Time of the Giving of the Torah’, commemorating the Revelation at Sinai, and the 4th is ‘Harvest Festival’, when offerings of First Fruits were brought to the Temple.
Observances of Shavuot include the reading of the Ten Commandments during the synagogue service; decorating the synagogue with flowers to recall that bare Mt. Sinai burst into flower when G-d’s Presence was there; reading the Book of Ruth, whose events take place during this season; and eating dairy products to remind us that the Torah is compared to milk and honey, i.e. that like those rich foods, G-d’s teachings are nourishing for body and soul.