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The Shavuot Holiday in Israel: Joy in the Law, Joy in the Land

Fast-forward almost eighty years to the present. If you search the word Shavuot in Hebrew on YouTube, you get numerous videos of Shavuot celebrations — mostly in kibbutzim but some in urban communities too. The sheer thrill of Jews farming the land may have dissipated, but something of the joy of those days has unmistakably been kept.

The video on this page is from Kibbutz Lehavot Haviva in 2009. The orange letters on the stage say Shavuot. Kibbutz Lehavot Haviva is in northern Israel and was established in 1949 by the far-Left — but Zionist — Hashomer Hatzair (Young Guard) movement.

Both young and old are enjoying themselves. Costumes aren’t as outlandish as in 1934, but the wreaths in the children’s hair, and the girls’ and women’s white dresses, are longstanding Shavuot traditions that have come down from those days and earlier. The stage in the background — sometimes peopled, sometimes not — is also a clear descendant of the teeming stage at the end of the 1934 video.

The songs in the medley, all with folk and biblical sources, are “Land of Milk and Honey,” “A Stalk in the Field” (0:48), “The Flowers Appear on the Earth” (1:18), “Our Granaries Are Filled with Grain” (1:52), and, just before a few strains of “To You Jerusalem” (2:44),  the beautiful and joyous Shavuot song “Baskets on Our Shoulders” (2:17):

Baskets on our shoulders,

Our heads adorned,

From all ends of the land we’ve come,

Bringing the first fruits….

Too bad the guy at 1:16 can’t catch the spirit.