This is a photograph from 1970 featuring six girls dancing in a circle on a stage during Shavuot celebrations in Tel Aviv. The girls are wearing long white skirts and white embroidered shirts. The Israeli flag appears on the left of the stage, and the background scenery features the biblical passage:
“You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the first fruits of the wheat harvest.” (Exodus 34:22)
The scenery also includes a picture of two men holding a giant bunch of grapes on a pole, an image which is reminiscent of the twelve spies who surveyed the Land of Israel before the Jews entered for the first time.
Shavuot celebrations in modern Israel often include a modern version of the biblical tradition of bikkurim – the ceremony of the first fruits, in which the first fruits of the “seven species” were offered at the Temple. Today all new products are displayed as bikkurim; in agricultural settlements in particular, farming equipment, machinery, livestock, and even babies are shown as achievements of the past year.
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Bikkurim Celebrations in Modern Israel - The early settlements in modern Israel transformed the traditional Bikkurim ceremony into a secular agricultural celebration – first fruit ceremonies to rejoice the end of the harvest festival (another term for Shavuot). The first fruits in the kibbutzim, in contrast to the time of the Temple, are not only the seven species but all kinds of fruits, vegetables, livestock, and even the babies born in the past year. The ceremonies feature colourful performances of songs and dances and processions of decorated agricultural tools and machinery, farm produce, and young children.
Shavuot - Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks – is celebrated on the sixth of Sivan. Shavuot, one of the three biblical pilgrim festivals, commemorates many different things: it marks the day that the Israelites received the Torah on Mount Sinai; it celebrates the wheat harvest in Israel; and it signifies the end of the Counting of the Omer. It is celebrated with many colourful and festive traditions such as holding bikkurim ceremonies, eating dairy food, decorating the synagogue with flowers and greenery, reading the Book of Ruth, and studying the Torah all through the night (Tikkun Leil Shavuot). In modern Israel, kibbutzim celebrate Shavuot and the bikkurim with processions displaying their produce of the previous year, including fruit and vegetables, farm animals, and even the new babies!
Bikkurim - One of the names of Shavuot in the Torah is the festival of the first fruits. These first fruits are traditionally of the “seven species” that were special agricultural products of the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (Deuteronomy 8:8). According to Jewish tradition, the first fruits, Bikkurim, were brought to the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem, as described in the Torah: “The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God...” (Exodus 23:19).