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Shavuot on the Mountain – Sunset, Sunrise…

Embedded deep within the Jewish tradition are the earth-based and agricultural practices and values of our ancestors. So to celebrate Shavuot camping at the sacred Mount Tamalpais in Marin County seemed only natural. Seventy-five people from around the Bay Area gathered for an all-night, Tikkun Leil gathering of learning, song, movement and ritual amongst the redwoods. We began with a dinner of homemade soup made from seasonal, orgOpening Circleanic, and local veggies and the traditional dairy kugels of the holiday, rolled into evening services at sunset and then began a series of offerings from our community. Candlelit study sessions around long picnic tables with Rabbis Sydney Mintz, Daniel Lev, and other local teachers harkened back to days of old when students and rebbes studied and debated by candle light ‘til dawn. In addition to the more traditional text study and storytelling, we sang and danced in the woods, learned frame drumming around a fire, went on silent meditation walks in the dark and practiced pre-dawn yoga. We came together at midnight for a ritual telling of the story of Moses at Mt. Sinai, Hebrew chanting, and a guided visualization of our own metaphoric journeys of revelation.

For those who stayed up for sunrise (or awoke for it), we made our morning prayers at dawn in view of the mountaintop, in a trance induced by prayer, love, and lack of sleep. A communal bikkurim (first fruits) breakfast and closing circle ended our time on the mountain together. It was a time of deep personal reflection and revelation, connection with the Earth and Spirit, and simply a time to celebrate Judaism in a beautiful place amongst loving community.

Check out these articles in the J Weekly about our event!

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