“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before Hashem thy God in the place which He shall choose; on the feast of unleavened bread, and on the Shavuot, and on the Sukkot; and they shall not appear before Hashem empty.” Deuteronomy 16:16 (The Israel Bible™)
The Jewish people recently celebrated the Biblical holiday of Shavuot, the holiday which commemorates agricultural bounty in the Land of Israel as well as the date on which God gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai. As Shavuot is one of the three holidays that the Bible states people should come to Jerusalem to celebrate, masses walk to Jerusalem’s ancient city even today for the pilgrimage journey.
“God commanded the Jewish people to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to pray and give offerings at the Holy Temples,” explained Rabbi Sholom Duchman, International Director for the Colel Chabad charity organization, to Breaking Israel News. “In addition, these pilgrimages gave the Jewish community the opportunity to reaffirm their communal commitment to God’s Torah, unite in their worship, and publicly recognize the sanctity of Jerusalem.”
Biblically, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot were core community-building festivals when Jews from all over the world joined together in the holy city. Colel Chabad, which has been supporting Israel’s needy since 1788, sought to revisit that warm, communal spirit this Shavuot by distributing tens of thousands of drinks and food packages to holiday pilgrims.
“As Shavuot falls during Israel’s hot summer and people walk from long distances to arrive at the Western Wall as public transportation is not allowed on this Biblical holiday, we wanted to increase people’s safety and holiday joy through the distribution of cold drinks and food,” continued Rabbi Duchman. “Not only did we supply drinks and food to those who arrived at the Western Wall, we had distribution centers along the way to the Old City to serve the hot, hungry and sometimes wary walkers.”
The specially packaged treats included a statement made by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (Leader of the Chabad Movement). The Lubavitcher Rebbe asked that parents gather their children to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments in synagogue on Shavuot. Through this special reading and the tens of thousands of blessings that people would make over the provided treats, Colel Chabad hopes to increase the blessings the world receives through the doing of good deeds and God’s will.
Colel Chabad was able to successfully carry out this massive effort through the joint cooperation of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, with the assistance of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall and other Holy Sites, the Kahn and Renner families, the Meromim Foundation and the contribution of the Hamui Brothers Company, headed by Yigal Hamui, who provided the cooling centers.
Every year, after the holiday, many pilgrims contact Colel Chabad to thank them for the provisions which were ‘’cold water for their tired souls” and gave them the energy to walk back home after their prayers.
“The distribution of these snacks joins the activities carried out year long by the Colel Chabad soup kitchen located directly above the Western Wall as well as in other Jerusalem locations and throughout Israel,” said Rabbi Duchman. “Just like Nicodemus ben Gurion, a Jew who lived in Jerusalem during the 1st century CE who is credited for setting up drinking cisterns for the holiday pilgrims, so too Colel Chabad sought to take care of the lovers of Jerusalem and God’s commandments.”
To support the many charity programs Colel Chabad runs year-round, please visit here.