Shavei Israel publishes new Shavuot guide in Russian for Subbotnik Jews

Shavei Israel publishes new Shavuot guide in Russian for Subbotnik Jews

Subbotnik Shavuot booklet

Cover of new Shavuot guide in Russian

Cover of new Shavuot guide in Russian

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the Jewish people’s receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai as they journeyed in the desert, will be celebrated in Israel and around the world this week. The Subbotnik Jewish community has an extra reason to rejoice: Shavei Israel has just published a special guide to the holiday for the first time in Russian.

Hundreds of copies of the booklet have been printed for use both in Russia and in Israel, where a sizable Subbotnik Jewish community lives, primarily in the city of Beit Shemesh. The guide contains a full description of the holiday of Shavuot with explanations on what prayers are said, along with information about the seven weeks of Sefirat HaOmer which leads up to Shavuot, plus a section on the holiday of Lag B’Omer which takes place during this period.

There are recipes for holiday dishes (Shavuot is traditionally celebrated by eating dairy products, with cheesecake temporarily replacing falafel as Israel’s national dish) as well as the full text in both Hebrew and Russian of the Megilat Ruth (the Biblical book of Ruth), which is read in synagogue during the morning of the holiday.

The booklet on Shavuot is the latest in a series of Russian-language publications produced by Shavei Israel over the last year. Previous guides for the community have covered the holidays of Tu B’Shvat and Hanukah.

The Subbotnik Jews are descendants of Russian peasants who converted to Judaism in the early 19th century under the rule of Czar Alexander I. Many studied in some of the great yeshivas of Lithuania, while thousands more immigrated to Israel starting with the “Second Aliyah” in the late 1800s. The name “Subbotnik” comes from their love of the “Subbbota,” Russian for Sabbath.

In publishing the new Shavuot booklet in Russian, Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund explained that the holiday has special significance for the community.

“In Jewish mystical tradition, Shavuot is likened to a wedding ceremony between G-d and the people of Israel,” says Freund. “The Subbotnik Jews, similarly, forged an eternal bond with the Creator when their forebears embraced the Torah some two centuries ago. We hope that the Subbotnik Jews will draw strength and inspiration from this guide, and we pray that through the merit of celebrating the giving of the Torah on Shavuot, we shall soon witness the ingathering of all the dispersed of Israel, reunited again as one in Zion.”

The Subbotnik Jewish community in Beit Shemesh will hold a pre- Shavuot celebration on Tuesday; we’ll have pictures on our website soon.