It's an important Jewish holiday, but Shavuot doesn't get the recognition that Hannukah and Passover enjoy. Rabbi Akivah Hall of Chabad Jewish Outreach Center in Biloxi wants to change that.
"It's a two-day holiday, right at the beginning of summer, so it seems to fall through the cracks," Hall said. "It's one of five major holidays Torah tells us to celebrate.
"It's connected to Passover. The funny thing is, Shavuot is the conclusion to Passover, but it's not nearly as well known or celebrated," he said.
Shavuot is the anniversary of the day Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai.
"It's the 50th day after Passover," Hall said.
What do you do to celebrate Shavuot?
"Many holidays have specific commandments about what to do," Hall said. "Shavuot isn't one of them. We don't have commandments specific to the holiday. But we do have some customs. In Israel, it's a one-day celebration, and outside Israel, it's two days; that's true for many holidays. This year, it's June 11 and 12 and ends Monday night, June 13. There is a special synagogue service, where we read the Ten Commandments -- basically re-creating receiving the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. It's very moving.
"The first night of Shavuot, men and women will study the Torah all night and continue until dawn," he said.
Food is involved, too.
"Usually the holidays have some sort of meat, but the custom for Shavuot is dairy foods," he said.
One tradition holds that, as the people also received kosher laws at the same time as the Torah and were to keep kosher starting the first day, the easiest way to do so was with dairy.
"So people often have ice cream and cheesecake to celebrate," Hall said. "They also decorate their homes and the synagogue with flowers."
In observance of Shavuot, the Chabad Jewish Outreach Center will have a service at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Center, 1648 Wiltshire Blvd., Biloxi, with a dairy lunch buffet following, he said.