Jews around the world will begin celebrating Shavous beginning at sunset Saturday, a holiday that commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai 3,324 years ago.
The holiday is a time where Jews believe the souls of every Jewish person — alive at the time or not — are believed to have been at the site when the commandments were given.
On Saturday night, Jews are encouraged to spend the night studying and learning as part of the holiday and many area synagogues hold all-night learning sessions to encourage this.
On Sunday, along with special services for the holiday, Jews also read special lamentations and prayers, including the Book of Ruth, telling the story of Ruth and her mother-in-law. Ruth and her husband, Boaz, were the parents of King David.
One of the other Shavous traditions is to eat dairy on the first day of the holiday. One of the many reasons for this is believed to be because since the Torah was given on the Jewish Sabbath, no tools could be used on that day to kill cattle. Thus, dairy was served.
The holiday will be celebrated beginning Saturday at sunset and end on Monday night at sunset.
Traditional foods served for the first day of the holiday include blintzes, cheesecake and other dairy products. However, some observant Jews eat a dairy meal first, then take a break before a traditional holiday meat meal is then served.
During the holiday, Jews observe pretty much the same rules as the Jewish Sabbath — refraining from turning on or off lights, work is forbidden, as are the use of electronics or lights and holiday candles are lit. Jewish law requires all able-bodied Jews to attend services at synagogue to hear the Ten Commandments.
On Monday, during Shavous services, Jews hold the four-times a year Yizkor memorial services to remember relatives and friends who have died.