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1,500 Participants Pull All-Nighters at Haifa Hillel's Tikkun Leil Shavuot Celebration
The evening of May 28, 2009 was like no other for Haifa Hillel - through the course of almost 8 hours, over 1,500 Jewish students, young adults and members of the Haifa community engaged in Torah study, meditation, discussion and of course, a dairy feast in celebration of Shavuot at Haifa Hillel's Carmel Center.
Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a tradition dating back to the 16th century in Tzfat, is a night for the Jewish people to renew the acceptance of the Torah and show appreciation for the gift.
"Haifa Hillel was excited to take on a larger role in the planning and co-sponsorship of Haifa's Tikkun Leil Shavuot celebration this year," explained Haifa Hillel Director, Inbar Bluzer. "We were in charge of everything from purchasing challah to hiring speakers to recruiting the huge turnout."
The official Haifa celebration began five years ago through co-sponsorship between the Haifa-Boston Connection (a project of Combined Jewish Philanthropies) and the Haifa municipality. In addition to the co-sponsors, this year, the event was led and produced by Haifa Hillel and the Leo Baeck Education Center.
Students and staff planned two educational tracks for the evening: a traditional track featured study sessions, a theatrical performance and outdoor mediation and a second track featured study sessions along with alternative offerings, such as movies and a closing concert by Groovatron, a popular music group that combines Israeli songs with hints of groove.
"At the conclusion of the closing concert at 4am, an attendee came up to me and praised the event for lifting her spirits, "recalls Bluzer. "She said it had been a rough year for her and her family, but that she would never forget this night or how this year's holiday was celebratedâ€”the event was wonderful."
The overall theme for the evening was love and the relationships between people and each other and people and G-d, using Megillah Ruth as a guide for learning. Chen Baralya, a Haifa University student and Haifa Hillel student initiative coordinator, was struck by the impact this theme had on the evening's many participants.
"People came up to me all night long and wanted to hear about Hillel," said Baralya. "The amount of energy, good will, love and openness overwhelmed me and that was my reward for the evening."
As a result of the success of the event, Haifa Hillel was invited by the Haifa municipality to play a key role in the city's weekly Kabbalat Shabbats this summer.
"Tikkun Leil Shavuot has given us a voice to say that there is an organization called Hillel in Haifa and we are doing pluralistic Jewish programs and doing them well," said Bluzer. "We look forward to continuing to play a significant role in Haifa's vibrant community."
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