Shavuot Unbound is an experiment.
The holiday of Shavuot (known in English as the Feast of Weeks, since "shavuot" means "weeks" in Hebrew) was once an observance that marked the conclusion of the seven-week grain harvesting season and the occasion on which ancient Israelites would bring their first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. After the Second Temple was destroyed 2,000 years ago, the focus of Shavuot almost entirely changed. It morphed into a holiday that celebrated the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which the founders of Rabbinic Judaism stated took place seven weeks after the Exodus from Egypt (which is marked by Passover). As a re-enactment of that moment, Jewish communities developed a tradition of staying up all night, studying the Torah and other Jewish writings until sunrise.
Shavuot Unbound honors the spirit of that ritual -- immersive Jewish learning over the course of many hours. But we're giving it a 21st Century twist.
For a long time, Shavuot's focus has been on the study of the Hebrew Bible (Torah, Prophets, and Writings) and later rabbinic texts. But in 2016, the definition of "Jewish text" is broader than that. The Book of Genesis is, without a doubt, Jewish, but so are TV shows like Transparent and Broad City. Words on a page are clearly "texts," but media, ranging from podcasts to videos to graphic novels, are "texts" as well.
We wanted to create an opportunity to experiment with some of those alternative Jewish "texts" and also to explore whether Shavuot, a holiday many Jews do not observe, could be re-imagined yet again as a holiday for deep immersion in Jewish material of all kinds and a time of reflection and reinvention inspired by such a deep dive. So we went to work. Shavuot Unbound is the "first fruit" of that labor, and we are proud to invite any and all to participate in it. Below you will find links to a wide variety of Shavuot Unbound "tracks" -- short schedules of videos, podcasts, games, and even comics -- with which you can experiment and, we hope, from which you can learn and through which you will be inspired to think deeply about what Judaism is and what it might become. Some tracks are just 60 minutes -- we recognize that life can be very busy. Others are 3-hours, 6-hours, and even 12-hours, for those who are eager to pull an all-nighter!
No matter how much time you have, we invite you to experiment with whichever tracks resonate with you by clicking any of the buttons below. Scroll your way through, click a few links, and see what resonates with you! Wherever this experiment leads you, we wish you a happy, meaningful, and unbound Shavuot!
If you aren't sure which track you'd like to choose, but you know how much time you'd like to spend immersing yourself in Shavuot Unbound, click one of the "Shavuot Budgets" below. You'll be able to view all the various tracks available for that budget on one page.