Sunset tonight marks the start of Shavuot, a Jewish holiday that marks the giving of the Torah (the ‘teachings’) to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago. Shavuot means weeks and marks the end of the seven weeks since Passover.
It’s a time to re-pledge religious loyalty, and is marked by religious contemplation and particular food feasts.
Jewish colleagues (outside of Israel) may take a two day holiday, and Israel has a national one day holiday. Many Jews will decorate their homes and synagogues with plants or flowers branches to honour Shavuot, and some synagogues decorate with a canopy of flowers and plants. There are traditional foods associated with the holiday.
Be warned, however – in the same way as the holiday is a different length inside and outside of Israel, the associated traditions vary from place to place and person to person. For example, Yemenite Jews do not eat dairy foods on Shavuot, whilst some other Jews will. Some stay up all night to study the Torah, others don’t. Some have religious services, some don’t. And some question the date.
We strongly suggest asking colleagues who you know are Jewish whether they are celebrating and how. It’s a great way to get to know your colleagues and on the practical side will help with planning your work together.
If you are Jewish, why not share information about your holiday and how you’ll be celebrating? Getting to know your colleagues is always important, and it’s far better that they know and understand than that expect to be able to get hold of you but can’t.
If you are closely located, sharing traditional foods usually creates a level of interest and can be a great conversation opener – it’s a case of judging for yourself how this may be received. If you work remotely, that option will be a little harder and simply sharing the information will be useful for those working together
And, of course, we’d like to wish you a Gut Yontiff (good holiday).
(If you want to know more about cross cultural training, you know where we are!)