For the 3,335th time, Jewish men, women and children around the world gathered on the holiday of Shavuot on Sunday to hear the Ten Commandments being read from a Torah scroll, have a festive meal—often a dairy spread—with many synagogues having an ice-cream party following the service. The two-day (one day in Israel) holiday was celebrated this year from the conclusion of Shabbat on June 4 until nightfall on June 6.

At the gateway to the Sahara desert in Casablanca, Morocco, more than 150 people joined Chabad-Lubavitch of Morocco for the holiday celebration. The significance of the desert isn’t lost on Rabbi Levi Banon of Chabad of Morocco.

“The Torah was given in the desert,” he tells “The desert is a no-man’s-land. It’s a vast, uninhabited wilderness. That’s precisely why G‑d gave the Torah there; to demonstrate that nobody has ownership of the Torah. It’s the inheritance of the entire Jewish people, and its lessons are for all of humanity.” And, adds Banon, of course, they’ll be holding an ice-cream party in their city in the middle of a desert.

But more than the ubiquitous ice-cream party, Banon shares a unique Moroccan custom: “Children have water fights all through Shavuot to show that the Torah is likened to water—just as water is necessary to sustain life, the Torah gives us life.”

Studying all night on the first night of Shavuot is a time-honored custom, demonstrating the Jewish People’s eager anticipation for the gift that would be coming their way the next morning—the holy Torah. For those preparing to learn at night, a Shavuot study guide from can be accessed to enhance this year’s at-home all-night study marathon and printed out before the holiday. Groups gathered in all sizes and formats at Chabad centers worldwide to revel in Torah study as they burn the midnight oil. Like thousands of Chabad centers around the world, Chabad of the West Sixties in Manhattan had an all-night Torah-study marathon, with guest lecturers and one-on-one learning, in anticipation of receiving the Torah once again.

The RebbeRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—encouraged all, even young babies, to be present at the Ten Commandments reading, explaining that on the first Shavuot at Mount Sinai, everyone was there; men, women and children, even the souls of all Jews yet to be born. When G‑d gave the Torah, He asked for guarantors, the Rebbe said, quoting the midrash, and it was the children who guaranteed that the Torah will be cherished, studied and fulfilled for all generations.

Chabad Chayil students create edible flowers as they learn about the Torah being given on Mount Sinai.
Chabad Chayil students create edible flowers as they learn about the Torah being given on Mount Sinai.

In the United Kingdom, the first day of Shavuot also celebrated the Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee, and locals geared up for street parties and “Jubilee Lunches,” says Roizy Gancz, co-director of Finchley Chabad. Ensuring nobody had to choose between celebrating the Queen’s 70-year reign and 3,334 years of the Torah, several British Chabad centers hosted Jubilee Lunch Shavuot garden parties, where they sat down for a festive dairy lunch and ice-cream party after the reading of the Ten Commandments. “We’ll be serving 70 different ice-cream and cheesecake toppings to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee,” says Gancz.

“The weather is nice, the scenery is beautiful, we’re praying and reading the Torah in our backyard,” says Rabbi Chaim Zvi Ehrenreich, co-director of Chabad of the Nyacks in Rockland County, N.Y. Ehrenreich, who is in the process of spearheading the purchase of a new home for the Chabad center, says that with their current lack of space indoors, he seizes every opportunity to hold services and programs outside. “We’ll have a delicious dairy lunch and ice-cream following the Torah reading, along with activities for the kids, who are our guarantors,” he says.

“Shavuot has it all,” says Rabbi Yehuda Lipskier, co-director of Chabad of the West Sixties, “Intellectual stimulation, spiritual revelation, children’s participation, and great food and treats for us all.”

Click here to find a friendly Shavuot program near you.