Bikkurim Celebration, 20th century
This photograph was taken during the ceremony of Bikkurim – offering of the first fruits on Shavuot. Young members of Kibbutz Ginegar sit on a cart decorated with hay and branches of a palm tree, playing various musical instruments including a mandolin, accordion and recorder. The exact year when this was taken is unknown. The young people in the photograph are dressed in the traditional dress of kibbutniks of the time – embroidered white shirts in Russian style.
Shavuot is also known as the festival of the first fruits. The first fruits of the year, known as the bikkurim, where brought as an offering to the kohanim (priests) in the Temple. The bikkurim, that consisted only of the seven species - wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates, were brought to the temple between Shavuot and Sukkot.
With the beginning of the new settlement in the Land of Israel in the 19th and 20th century, the agricultural settlements, moshavim, kibbutzim and villages, revived the biblical tradition. The members of these settlements organised celebrations for the first fruits of the season, featuring colourful performances and processions.
Kibbutz Ginegar is located in the northern Jezreel Valley, near the city of Migdal Haemek, in the area of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council. The kibbutz was founded in 1922 and today, in addition to agriculture, it has factories and other industries.
Connection to Parashat Emor
At the end of Parashat Emor, the Torah links the festivals of the year to the agricultural cycle of the year. Shavuot, which occurs forty nine days after the omer sacrifice has been brought, signifies the start of the period whereby farmers and landowners may bring the first fruits to the temple.
A Jewish History teacher can use this photo to discuss the kibbutz movement and its importance in Israel during the twentieth century. Teachers can use this photo to explore the new meaning that was given to the Jewish festivals by the early secular Zionist settlers.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this photograph when discussing the laws of Bikkurim as detailed in the bible and in the Talmud, and compare them to the way this tradition has evolved.
Teachers, teaching about culture around the world, can compare the Bikkurim celebrations of the biblical times, to "first fruit" celebrations in different cultures.
Describe the photograph.
Who are the people in the cart?
What are they doing?
How are they dressed?
What musical instruments are they playing?
What are there expressions? Are they happy?
Reading Between the Lines
The children are celebrating the festival of Shavuot.
What kind of community do you think that the children belong to?
How did you come to this conclusion?
How is Shavuot celebrated in agricultural communities in Israel?
The offering of the was originally celebrated in the temple. In modern times, this tradition was widely adopted by the secular Zionist communities.
How do these communities celebrate the
Why do you think that the kibbutz choose to celebrate this occasion?
Do similar celebrations take place today at harvest time in Israel?
And in other cultures?
The photograph was taken in Kibbutz Ginegar.
What is the history of this kibbutz?
Describe the kibbutz today.
Do you have any friends of family who have spent time on kibbutzim?
Interview them about their experiences.
Watch this video about the Kibbutzim today – "Israel’s Kibbutz community on a decline" Hold a class debate about the socialist Kibbutz values and if they have a place in today's society?