Chag Sameach! Shavuot Traditions From Across USY

Hi USY! The Religion/Education International General Board is REL/EDiculously excited to showcase more family traditions! For Shavuot, USYers from across North America talked about their traditions! I hope you enjoy! 🙂

-Lily Selznick, Rel/Ed IGB 2019

What exactly is Shavuot?

For those of you who don’t know, Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. It is believed that every year on Shavuot we are “re-given” the Torah. Some people stay up all night and read the Torah to reaffirm their devotion to G-d and the Torah.

Tobey Lee, Far West USY:

“So, on Shavuot, I go to my shul and participate in an amazing all night learning program. I hear from rabbis, teachers, and scholars about stories in the Torah, the holiday of Shavuot, teachings in the Talmud, and more. Learning on Shavuot is seriously such an amazing opportunity, as I get to participate in a unique and transformative Jewish tradition. During the all night program, there is great food, especially cheesecake! It is customary for Jews to eat dairy on Shavuot; since the Torah was given on Shabbat, cattle could not be slaughtered.

After staying up all night, we daven Shacharit, and we read the Ten Commandments during the Torah reading. Shavuot is so great, as I get to learn with my community and participate in an amazing custom of the Jewish people.”

Zachary Weiser, Emtza Region USY:

“For Shavuot, one tradition that I have is studying different Jewish values at my synagogue with my USY chapter throughout the night. There is usually a special speaker that the whole synagogue gets to listen to and talk to later in the night. Last year it was Abby Stein, a transgender woman who was forced out of the Orthodox community. After she shared her story, I learned about a ton of things that I would have otherwise never thought about. In the morning I go to services with my family, and we eat a big dairy lunch with lots of good food, most notably cheesecake.”

Gabby Grunfeld, Far West USY:

“My Shavuot tradition is what my family calls ‘cheesecake and chatter’- where we all gather together after lunch on Shavuos day and discuss Talmudic and kabbalistic ideas and how they relate to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It’s a special time to learn Torah, debate, and of course, indulge in my favorite chocolate cheesecake.”




Noam Benson-Tilsen , HaNer USY:

“Most years, people from my synagogue hike up a State Park trail to a summit overlooking the city and the Long Island sound. When we arrive at the top, we take out a bunch of cheesecake pies, as it’s traditional to eat dairy on Shavuot. It is always fun to meet up with people outside of shul and eat food with a great view.”