Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Shavuot Flower Offering

I'm off to Israel tomorrow with our Wilmington Community trip, but before I depart I figure I'd share Sonia Sloan's article on our Shavuot Flower Offering Service Alternative:

We want to share with our Beth Emeth family news about the exciting and wonderful new program we held on Shavout on Wednesday June 4th. Shavout, in addition to commemorating the giving of the Torah at Sinai, is the festival of first fruits, the 'Chag Ha-Bikkurim, which we have traditionally celebrated with a flower offering. This year, we decided to do a different kind of flower offering. So we chose to celebrate this holiday by planting flowers at Harlan Elementary School, just a few blocks from our synagogue. Thirty-one of our congregants and about twenty-five fourth graders filled the planters around the school with a myriad of beautiful flowers, donated by Old Country Gardens and our congregants.The children and teachers joined in prayers and songs in Hebrew as Rabbi Robinson and Cantor Stanton led a short service, explaining the meaning of Shavout and why we were sharing our holiday with them. We had a very attentive and engaged group who were having a good time and it was a delight to see the children interacting with our Beth Emeth folks in such a beautiful and meaningful way. The children read poems and writings about flowers and gardens that we had prepared for them. We ended the day with cookies and ice cold water and every child got to take home a plant. It was a wonderful, meaningful experience for all of us and the weather was spectacular!
We followed this with another planting and service at a small Community Garden in Hedgevile in the inner city.
This exciting project came out of a suggestion from Cantor Stanton and Sonia Sloan at a meeting of the Ritual and Choir Committee in discussing a different way  to celebrate this lovely holiday,
Our goal was to build bridges between our Beth Emeth community and the city community and we most certainly achieved that goal. We now plan to make this a yearly celebration of Shavout, with the children and staff at Harlan.
We want to thank Rabbi Robinson, Cantor Mark Stanton, Esther Timmeney and Sonia Sloan for planning and arranging the service and enlisting the volunteers. Thanks too to Wilmington City Councilwomen Sherry Dorsey and Maria Cabrera, and Stacey Henry of Harlan School for their help and support.

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