Shavuot – The Book of Ruth + The Story of Jane

Why do we read the book of Ruth on Shavuot?

1. The book of Ruth centers on the personality of, what do you know, Ruth. She in turn was the ancestor of King David, who passed away on Shavuot1(and according to some he was also born on this day).

2. Ruth was a convert to Judaism, willingly entering a covenant with G-d through the acceptance of His Torah. On Shavuot, the Jewish people en masse entered this covenant with G-d by willingly accepting His Torah. The connection between Shavuot and conversion is not just homiletic; the conversion steps taken by Ruth, as well as by prospective converts until this very day, are akin, and derived from, the steps the Jewish people took at Sinai in the process of receiving the Torah.

3. The Numerical Value of Ruth is 606. On Shavuot the Jewish people received 606 new commandments in addition to the 7 that were already commanded to Adam and Noah, reaching a total of 613.2

4. Shavuot is also known as Chag Hakatzir – The Harvest Festival.3 The Book of Ruth gives us a picture of the harvest, and how the poor were treated in the harvest season with sympathy and love.

The Story of Jane on Shavuot

……. “When my Father was a young child, he lived in Cabbagetown in Toronto.  His family (Irish Catholic) was extremely poor, and always hungry.  Kids living in the area during the 20’s, grew up rapidly.  Dad was the eldest, and at 6 years old, he took it upon himself to try and feed the family, along with gathering wood, to help keep them warm.

Dad would take his wagon to the nearby St. Lawrence Market, so he could steal food.  He would knock food off the stalls to the ground, gather it up, hide it under a rag in his wagon, and sneak out of the market.  On one of those occasions, a Jewish family that owned a stall caught him stealing.  Instead of just getting mad at Dad, they took him under their wing and gave him little jobs such as sweeping, stocking shelves, etc.  They “employed” him on a regular basis, in exchange for food, for many years.  My Father remained close friends with the family, until he died at 55.

My Father had a lot of friends in the Jewish community – including Orthodox.  It was the norm for Jews to be in my family home, and the majority of my Sundays were spent at Kensington Market, where Dad was well known, and liked by the various Jewish shopkeepers.  We spent hours there while he had coffee, and discussed world affairs with the shop owners, when they weren’t serving customers.  I had heavy exposure to the Jewish community in my formative years, right into adulthood.

Due to my intense exposure to the Jewish Community, I came to realize that I was much more comfortable with Jews, than any other group – from a religious and social standpoint.  It was a gradual process, but it became increasingly apparent that I should convert.  In 1977, I visited Israel, and hounded everyone I encountered about Judaism, and conversion.  I returned home with the firm decision to become a Jew.

Shortly after returning from Israel, I met a Jewish tennis pro, at a tennis club in Toronto.  We started dating immediately, were engaged a month later, and have been happily married since 1980.

During my conversion process, I studied under a Rabbi, when he was at Beth Habonim in Toronto.  At that time, Beth Habonim’s congregation consisted primarily of Holocaust survivors.  All of the witnesses to my conversion ceremony were survivors.  In a post-Holocaust world, the men were justifiably wary of conversion; had legitimate fears about trusting a Gentile; and rigorously questioned me.

One of the witnesses, who I will never forget as long as I live, had been badly broken by the Germans – both physically and emotionally.  He was a dear, sweet, gentle soul, and asked a lot of questions.  Giving you an edited version, he wanted to know what I would do if anti-Semitism rose again like the 30’s, and another Holocaust was pending.  Would I leave Judaism, and return to the safety of the Gentile community?  Understandably, he needed a lot of reassurance.  Without hesitation, I honestly told him that I wanted no part of the Gentile community if they repeated the attitudes that lead to the Holocaust.  I gave him my solemn word, that I would never betray his trust in me, or the Jewish community.

While the entire conversion ceremony was emotionally stirring for me, my conversation with that dear man was the most profound part of the ceremony.  By the end of our discussion, both of us were in tears, hugging and kissing one another.  As Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head once again, I will never betray his trust in me, my family, fellow Jews, or myself.  Like you, I will fight this filth until my very last breath.  Life isn’t worth living, if the betrayal of others is required to keep on breathing.

There is truth in your remarks that the Jewish community is the most hated.  However, I am extremely proud to be a part of it – despite the difficulties.  The Jewish Community is boisterous, dynamic, loving, generous, and accomplished.  We are truly blessed to be a part of such a unique, and vibrant, community.  As for the self-hating Jews on the left who are harming us, David Solway (“The City of Slaughter”)   perfectly addressed their cowardice and sinister behaviour in his latest article.  Obviously they are damaged souls.  Hopefully, David’s article goes viral, and convinces some of them to change their views, and stand courageously with the Jewish community, against our enemies.

Obviously many Jews did not accept my conversion – including my husband’s family, who rejected us and never came to terms with our marriage.  Some of my relatives didn’t accept my conversion and our marriage either.  Unfortunately my Father had passed away before I converted, and married my husband.  I know Dad would have genuinely supported my religious decision, and marriage.  Despite our personal adversities, my husband and I managed to create a loving and strong family.

I stopped worrying about whether or not I was Jewish enough, or going to be completely accepted into the fold by some Jews.  I knew in my heart, and every fibre of my being, that I was Jewish, and concluded that if Holocaust survivors could get over their concerns and accept me, others could too.

Those are the reasons why I joyfully converted to Judaism, and have absolutely no regrets.  I am proudly Jewish, and ever shall be. …..”


3 Responses to Shavuot – The Book of Ruth + The Story of Jane

  1. Elias says:

    fascinating story…would be interested in learning more about it. I know the Habonim community quite well, and probably know the German Holocaust survivor your refer to. Would love to follow up. Chag Sameach.

  2. frances says:

    i know this is totally unrelated, howeve, i have a print at home and it is exactly the same as the one up above but it is in a sipa color i alway wanted to know who the artist was and would appreciate any help thank you

    • Barzel_18 says:

      I am sorry I do not know the name of the artist. I did an image search on the internet using the words ‘Biblical Ruth’ and there was no artist name associated with the painting.

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