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    A Greek name for Shavu’ot

    Pentecost ShavuotIn old Anglo-Jewry they didn’t use Hebrew names for festivals when they could use English.

    They knew of Passover more than Pesach, Tabernacles rather than Sukkot, New Year instead of Rosh HaShanah.

    They would have used an English name for Chanukah too if they could; some people who had problems with the guttural ch tended to speak of “Konnika” as if it were a car or camera.

    When it came to Shavu’ot they readily embraced the name Pentecost, despite its Greek and Church derivation (though there were circles that called it Weeks, a literal translation of “Shavu’ot”).

    Pentecost means “50”, and of course Shavu’ot is on the 50th day after the beginning of the Omer, but they did not know that the name Pentecost is said to mark the date of the foundation of the Christian Church.

    The problem has solved itself, however, with the return of traditionalism to the Jewish world. I haven’t heard of Pentecost for many years, and with the growing interest in Torah study, Shavu’ot, the festival and the name, is back in favour.

    The numbers who spend Shavu’ot night in Torah learning are on the increase. Indeed Torah learning is proliferating throughout the year and throughout the world. We are unfortunately still losing some of our Jews but we are gaining so many at the same time. Torah is the star attraction.

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