Shavuot is probably the least-celebrated of the three festivals (the others are Passover and Sukkot), for two reasons. One is that it began as an agricultural festival when farmers brought offerings of the early grain harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. Because most of us are not farmers and there is no Temple to which to bring offerings, this form of celebration is no longer possible.
The second is that there’s less to do at Shavuot, particularly at home. Passover is celebrated primarily at home, and in families that build a sukkah, so is Sukkot. There is no home observance for Shavuot, except perhaps special dairy foods such as blintzes or cheesecake—only services in the synagogue.
Some congregations hold Confirmation on Shavuot, and a few hold adult b’nai mitzvah celebrations.
In addition to the Shavuot morning service, which includes Yizkor, there is one communal Shavuot celebration that is growing in popularity: the Tikkun Leil Shavuot. Building on the understanding that Shavuot is the anniversary of receiving the Torah, and that the Israelites overslept that morning, congregations hold late-night (theoretically all-night, but few make it that far) study sessions to honor the Torah and be ready to receive it.
Congregation Kol Ami’s Tikkun Leil Shavuot will be on Saturday, May 18, starting at 8:30 p.m. Join Rabbi Oren Steinitz, Maggid Paul Solyn and other teachers for a night of Jewish learning and blintzes in honor of Shavuot! We promise that it will end before midnight. The Shavuot morning service, with Yizkor, is Sunday, May 20, at 10:00 a.m.