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old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

12 June 2005

And We Won't Come Home Till It's Over Over There

... to an Army (1970) friend, already a quite well-known artist before getting his luckless ass drafted; his name is hither and yon on the Internet on the sites of aficionados of a certain School or Genre of Arte (and I ain't talkin bout nekkid babes, go wash your brain out with soap, asshat).

Now he lives in a state whose shape is approximately like the human hand, or for a special case of the geography and topology of this state, with both hands. For the more common case, one hand is better, because then you use the index finger of the other hand to point to where you live on the Hand Map to show other people who live in the state
whose shape can be approximated by the human hand. Then the other person points to the palm of his or her hand.

If you visit this state for two or three days, you're almost certain to see pairs of people in the mall or on the sidewalk pointing to the palms of their hands, first one person pointing at his hand, then the other pointing at the palm of her hand. I've spoiled it for you now, but just go back in time before you read this, don't read this, and then visit this state, so you can wonder what the fuck all these people are doing pointing at the palms of their hands to each other.

If I can ever solve the raw sausage problem with the crappy free image software called HELLO, my friend Ron sent me faux postage stamps of photos of him making the Hand Map, the One-Handed Hand Map, and the Special Case Two-Handed Hand Map -- which you can't avoid using in certain special cases of where you live in the state whose shape yadda yadda yadda. Although he doesn't in these photos, I would point to my house with my nose. Anyway, he knew I loved the Hand Map thingie of his state, so he made me the Hand Map faux postage stamps, because I love faux postage stamps and make them myself.

Anyway, in the
state whose shape is approximately the shape (but very different scale) of the human hand, he lives HERE, and is the creative partner in an advertising agency. He has a son and a daughter around Draft Age, they're in college. Fortunately there currently temporarily for the moment is No Draft in the United States of America. Those kids Over There are All Volunteers. So it's all Okay. They asked for it. They knew what they were getting themselves in for. The Recruiter told them. So what happens to them Over There Over There is okay. Well. More okay than what happened to the drafted guys. You know what I mean. Anyway now some of them are trying to weasel out of the mature adult informed consent contracts and commitments they made to Military Recruiters, and this is damaging the Self-Esteem of the Recruiters, and also resulting in courts-martial and ships-martial and The Brig and Stockade and AWOLS and Extended French Leave Episodes -- okay we change that to Extended Freedom Leave Episodes, or EFLEs, and a buncha guys trying to look like tourists and visiting fishermen (it's the hat, get that hat, you know the hat I mean) as they cross into Canada and have such a nice time they just forget to Come Back.

If you are ever in Canada and meet a Canadian with a Mississippi accent, please get Jesse Winchester's (SVP Cliquez Ici et Sing the ENTIRE song merci) Canadian Citizen Autograph for me, I have wanted this autograph badly for 35 years. Our Patriotic Plan for this young Mississippi infraVolunteer (MS is near Arkansas, home of Clinton, William J.[efferson]) once included having his genitalia blown off by an evil Communist jungle booby trap while attempting to murder evil short Asian bicycle-riding peasant farmer Communists to prevent them from Doin' the Domino, but now it seems that Mr. Winchester, Jesse will likely croak of old age watching a hockey game (maybe doggy-style, so she can watch the hockey game, too) and listening to Glenn Gould play the compositions of the noted 18th-Century Austrian coprophiliac Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Just like Jane Fonda when she was his age and making neat stuff like Barbarella with her French extraAmerican husband Vadim.

( -- Yogi Berra)

My letter to Ron begins shortly, but first, I'd like to sing this song, and if you know it, please sing along. This is from a website called

Fort Liberty
Using the First Amendment to Protect the Second

and the song page has ads for paintball supplies, police equipment, rubber band guns, and free patriotic music. Also safes to lock your guns inside.

I have just for the first time in my miserable life read carefully the entire lyrics to this remarkable and beloved Patriotic Song, and I herewith pronounce it The Most Manipulative and Powerful Piece of Jingoistic Psychopathic Genocidal Youth-Self-Mutilating Œdipal Perverted Song Ever Written and Sung in Public in front of Children and Teenage Boys, and in this Category the competition is Large, Ancient and Stiff. There has been a talented entry in every year this competition has been held (always in Muskogee, Oklahoma USA) since 309 BC from every nation that ever was, and in Finno-Ugrik lingos too, lotta go-to-war kill-the-Sluvorqazaks songs U bet. Beat the Hun.

Over There
American song to whip all the young guys into a patriotic frenzy as we declared war on Germany, our beginning of World War One
(a Happy Song)

By George M. Cohan

Johnnie, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run,
Hear them calling you and me, ev'ry Son of Liberty

Hurry right away, no delay, go today
Make your Daddy glad to have had such a lad,
Tell your sweetheart not to pine, to be proud her boy's in line

Over there, over there!
Send the word, send the word, over there!
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming ev'rywhere!

So prepare, say a prayer, send the word, send the word to beware!
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back 'til it's over Over There!

Johnnie, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Johnnie show the Hun you're a son of a gun!
Hoist the flag and let her fly,
Yankee Doodle do or die
Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit

Yankees to the ranks from the towns and the tanks
Make your mother proud of you and the old Red White and Blue

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word, over there!
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming ev'ry where
So prepare, say a prayer, send the word, send the word to beware
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back
'til it's over Over There!

Dear Ron,

I'm taking the night shift, sitting up all night to watch the Community Cable TV 29, in case there's any news about Mount Paradise. Mount Paradise is a very small mountain (37 meters) next to our Academy of Music, and across Main Street from the Hempest, where Cynthia bought the big hunk of rock salt that you plug in, and a little light bulb inside heats up the salt, and all the air in the house gets purified.

Anyway, to everyone's most unpleasant surprise, it turns out Mount Paradise was a volcano. So far, a very small volcano. In fact, if you click on and surf around their site, Mount P. right now is the world's smallest volcano. School's out, as you no doubt know, and if I drive downtown I'll pass about eight or nine teenagers sitting on the rim of the crater, smoking dope, drinking something they're passing back and forth in a paper bag, and roasting shoplifted marshmallows over the lava dome. At least until Officer Rick pedals by and dialogues with them in some respectful way and sends them somewhere else, probably the 7-11.

Anyway, TV29 will have bulletins in case anything slightly big or really big should happen with the lava dome, and Cynthia and I have to put the cats in the carriers and flee in my truck for Easthampton -- there'll be no chance to get over the Calvin Coolidge Bridge and make it to Amherst, which has the Starbucks. (Easthampton doesn't have a Starbucks.) Vans Warped Tour (ask son, daughter, whichever younger) will be playing the Tri-County Fairgrounds, just a few blocks from the Coolidge Bridge, in August, and that, coupled with the situation with the volcano -- well, it could be Gridlock City in that neighborhood like the last time the Warped Tour was there. Cynthia will wake up around 7 and make coffee and she'll start switching back and forth between Good Morning America (they have a screen crawl with continuous Mount P updates) and TV29, and I can get some sleep. I haven't had any sleep to speak of in a few days, Cynthia the same.

And then there's the wars. Congress is holding hearings now on Bush's new SuperVolunteering Act, which, if the Democrats don't try to block it, will make military volunteering a lot more popular. Right now the big controversial provision is the free skateboard and snowboard for each new volunteer. The Democrats want to prohibit the Pentagon from purchasing cheap boards manufactured in China and Malaysia and in the Maquilladores across the border in Mexico, they want all the boards to be made in America. The Republicans are ripshit. We're having a fucking national emergency, and we need the skateboards and snowboards now, so we can get the recruiting numbers back up to where there were lines around the block to get into the recruiter's office down at the Caldor Plaza mall, teenage Todds and Tifanys up to your goddam armpits in the months following 9/11. We need it that way again. But that spirit's gone, long gone. The Capitol Hill fight's been on CNN and C-Span, and it's really ugly. Bipartisanship is just all shot to shit in Washington. Once there was a time when Democrats and Republicans used to share call girls and Senate page boys together, but those days are long in the past.

So anyway, it's just like our days, huh, when we served together? Remember? America's Sacrificing Its Young again in really large numbers. The Free Speech Zones, with all the protestors behind chain-link-fences in parking lots across from the hotel where Cheney's going to speak -- Jeez, Ron, Seems Like Old Times, it makes me feel young again. I'm sure it does you too. And for us here in Northampton, Mount Paradise is like a metaphor. Once every night at midnight, a recruiter, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, drags an 18-year-old up the side of the volcano, a boy or a girl, and makes them volunteer, and then kicks them into the lava dome. If they're lucky, they can scramble out of the crater without getting their legs or feet burned too bad. But I think the meaning of the metaphor is pretty clear. These are America's sons and daughters, and if we want everything to work out okay, we have to shove some of them down into the volcano crater. It's been that way since you and I served -- I was 22, they called me Old Man in Basic -- and that's just the way it's always going to be in any America worth living in. Fucking John Lennon and Cat Stevens and Jane Fonda assholes used to talk about peace, but that kind of crap isn't any kind of America I want to live in, and I know you don't want to either.

Are you still reading? Is this too long? Make some kind of sign. Draw something, a stick man or something.

Okay, look, it's Apology Time again. I'm really sorry I got you all fucked up on these Faux Postage Stamps. Is there a VA Hospital near you, or has it closed for budget reasons? Well, if it's open, maybe they have some kind of clinic or outpatient program where a vet can get help with his Faux Postage Stamp issues. You should call. I learned a new phrase a few years ago, when our VA Boutique in Leeds (about four miles west of me) was having its annual "We're Shutting Down the Alcohol and Drug Unit" Federal Festival of Abandonment. "Greyhound Therapy." They shut down the clinic, but if you show up and want to get cleaned up and stop shooting smack, they give you free round-trip tickets on the bus to the big VA Hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, that's about a three hour drive from here, eight hours by bus (change busses, etc.).

As for you, geezer asshat (a Youthoid on a web List called me an asshat last month, an asshat is a small hat you wear on your ass), I don't like to meddle in your business, but have you ever considered becoming an artist? I always thought you had talent when you'd draw those sketches of whacky hot rods in the barracks while I sang pacifist defeatist folk songs advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government, and the black guy -- I think his name was Jimi, he wore 101st Airborne patches -- played the harmonica. And it's never too late to go back to Art School, and later you could be the singer in a nihilistic atonal loud Art School band with a cool title. I just learned what Math Rock is, and I am really getting excited and I'm soldering my theremin kit together, and I swear I'm going to play Open Mike night down at the bowling alley. (Remember Lothar and the Hand People? The gimmick was one guy played the theremin. WoooooooEEEEEEEEEEEEaaaaaaaaaUUUUUU)

What I'm really about to do in my geezertude is start taking private Yiddish lessons from some woman who gives private Yiddish lessons. I'm tired of being a schmuck who only knows one Yiddish word, guess the word.

I love to talk Salty Barracks Talk, don't you?

Do you know this? Can you read, Art Boy? It's from Threepenny Opera, written by a Certified Kommie. Two old nostalgic assholes, the gangster and the police chief, served together many years ago, and they sing:

Cannon Song (aka Army Song)

(Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht/Marc Blitzstein)
Performed by Stan Ridgway and the Fowler Brothers

John was all present and Jim was all there
And Georgie was up for promotion
Not that the Army gave a bugger who they were
When confronting some heathen commotion


The troops live under
The cannon's thunder
From Sind to Cooch Behar
Moving from place to place
When they come face to face
With a different breed of fellow
Whose skin is black or yellow
They quick as winking chop them into beefsteak tartar

Johnny found his whiskey too warm
And Jimmy found the weather too balmy
But Georgie took them both by the arm and said:
"Don't ever disappoint the Army!"


John is a write-off and Jimmy is dead
And Georgie was shot for looting
And young men's blood goes on being red
While the Army just goes on ahead recruiting

Also, listen, I have this Idea what you could do. Have you ever heard of an Art Gallery? You take your art stuff to them, you and the Gallery Owner dialogue, they sell your stuff to people with money, you get a small amount of that, because you drew or painted or somehow fabricated it.

We have a Very Fancy Gallery, Michelson Gallery, on Main Street right here in downtown QualityofLifeville. Anyway, back in my Wild Unsupervised Bachelor Period, some of this money stuff was just burning a whole in my pocket, and while ordinarily I only invest in exotic dancers and cocaine, this time I decided I wanted to class up the living room, and I went down to Michelson and asked them if there was anything by Donald Evans in my price range -- you know, like a Klee original for $900, something like that. Philippe said he had never heard of this particular artist, but he would research, and get back to me.

A month later they called and said they'd found a signed litho for under $1000, would I be interested. Would I??? So they started ahead with the deal.

A week later I came home and heard this message on the answering machine:

(Very nervous, anxious, young man's voice:)

Hello, Mr. Merkin? Hi, this is Philippe at Michelson Gallery. Listen ... uhhh ... your litho by Donald Evans just arrived. Uhhh ... we opened it and ... uhhh ... well ... uhhh ... the piece itself is three inches on one side by four inches. Ummm ... well ... uhhh ... well, could you call and tell us if that's okay with you? We hadn't known about this when we arranged the sale. Thanks a lot. The number is ...

I should have known this might happen. They have a big sign over the front counter:


I gave them a break and bought the teeny-tiny eeny-weeny little piece of Art anyway. Then they found me another itty-bitty signed litho by Evans, and so I wouldn't lower Philippe's self-esteem, I pretended that was okay with me too. Oh, the other sign over the front counter:

At Michelson Gallery, The Frame Always Costs More Than The Art

The Evans pieces -- they really are small, about the size of postage stamps -- water colors, hand perforated, everything of course by hand:

AMIES ET AMANTS (Friends and Lovers, an island archipelago)

denomination island name
2 AMI DE BEAUX JOURS (Fair-Weather Friend, Friend of Pretty Days)
3 MAIN DANS LA MAIN (Hand-in-Hand)
4 L'AMOUR PERDU (Lost Love)

The other is a block of four stamps, each stamp a seabird in flight, from FAUNA, denomination FARTHING.

Have you done any stamps in blocks yet? Crap around the stamps, printed and there but not within the stamps themselves, is called selvidge. A lot of Stamp Artists really get into the selvidge. I'm not on the ARTISTAMPS list anymore. An addled man was running it -- he's been unplugged since -- but we got into a huge flame war. He accused me of all sorts of perversions and dishonesties. Chiefly that all the other members on the List made their faux stamps out of paper and some medium, and distributed them to all the other members by actual Postal Service mail, but I was making my stamps all electronically, distributing them via e-mail and the List archive, using MS Paint (free software free software free software!); my stamps were made entirely of long strings of zeroes and ones. He would actually post these posts denouncing me as a fake faux stamp artist. I would reply telling him I was actually a writer, and I was just on the List because I heard they had free refreshments. (The Swedish meatballs were particularly good.) Then I would ask him how serious a crime and ethical violation it was to be a fake artist who made faux postage stamps.

And you thought I was just a low-rent Text Boy. Who taught you to make Art Stamps, huh?

The two Evans lithos, which are so small they really shouldn't be called Art (size really does matter), hang on my wall. I'll tell you what does cost almost more than the art: Track lighting. This is the first time I've taken them down, I needed a magnifying glass to read the text to transcribe it for this letter. It's rather nice to examine them so closely -- of course I've just seen details I'd never noticed before -- and touch them in another place in the house. But of course in a few minutes I'll hang them back on the wall, else Cynthia will wake up and ask, "Why etc."

You know I've sold the house and now live full-time on Vleeptron, right? You can have medical marijuana on Vleeptron, but only for Insufficient Happiness Syndrome (IHS). And you must ingest it in a sauna with identical twin redheaded freckled cheerleaders and Annika and Neeeeeeeeeeeeena. For insurance reasons, all sauna occupants must remove all clothing.

Read my blog or I'll start another war against another nation of the Axis of Evil. Iran is really pissing me off lately. It's about time those fucking Koreans started treating America with a little respect. Syria -- maybe Syria, those fucking non-Christians really piss me off. Have I forgotten anybody?

News, Weather, Sports & Opera News from Vleeptron

Your old Army pal,

Sgt. Nick Wanoooooooooshki

P.S. Say hi to the Missus. The Little Woman says hi to you and the Missus. I'm sure your Missus says hi to the Little Woman.

P.P.S. I've started cooking at the homeless shelter again, it has a permanent location now (as permanent as shelters ever get). It's next door to the Police Station, and down in the basement of the Elks Lodge, which has been recycled as Quaker Meeting. Which is where I came in; I first got involved during my unhappy two year experiment as Bob the Loud Abusive Quaker. (Later I became St. Bob of the Toyota 4x4 Pickup.) I bothered the other Quakers until they agreed to join my volunteer team. Pretty soon they all got together in a circle, and God turned on their Inner Lights, and told them to make the winter cot shelter a Permanent Mission of Quaker Meeting. How's your Inner Light? Mine's okay, but I think I need to replace the AA batteries. I make joke, but actually I was and remain deeply admiring of their vision: Their t-shirt says NO WAR NO VIOLENCE ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTIONS. (But a few of them did join the Union Army -- the Free the Slaves thing -- and did shoot a few human beings anyway. Now you can find Pennsylvania high schools whose football teams are "The Fighting Quakers." I asked sweet old Bruce, our Clerk, about this Fighting Quakers website I found and he practically had a hernia right in front of me, and then explained the odd history of that. Google Fighting Quakers, the cartoon of the Fighting Quaker is really quite sweet, adorable. GO FIGHTIN' QUAKERS! MURDER 'EM!)

Most of our regular guests are -- are you sitting down? -- vets. Had one Korean guy. That was unexpected and challenging, I guess he was in his sixties. Mostly -- are you sitting down? -- Vietnam vets the first few years. But then, third year, a couple of very young Desert Storm guys started wandering in, fresh from shooting up in the alley. Bob Not Happy that night.

Shelter's closed for the summer now, guests all invited to sleep al fresco, we'll see them all again on Halloween night. Hmmm. I wonder who the next Surprise Veterans will be. BBC says 2 of 5 returning vets from Iraq/Afghanistan/Bananastan have PTSS. Trick or Treat! Surprise!

Here's a Vet's song. We all like to sit around the sauna at the shelter and sing it, a black guy plays the harmonica. Studs Terkel's oral history of The Depression called it "The Song." War referred to is World War One:

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime

by Jay Gorney and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg

(Harburg co-wrote "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" for Marx Brothers' "At the Circus," The Wizard of Oz, Finians Rainbow)

Once I built a railroad, made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it’s done --
Brother can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower to the sun
Brick and mortar and lime
Once I built a tower, now it’s done --
Brother can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits
Gee, we looked swell!
Full of that Yankee Doodle De Dum
Half a million boots went slogging through hell
I was the kid with the drum
Say don’t you remember? You called me Al!
It was Al all the time
Say don’t you remember, I’m your pal!
Buddy can you spare a dime?


At the top -- and I really want to thank all of you who sang along with me -- the first line of the song is

Johnnie get your gun, get your gun, get your gun

with a link to a really whack website I've accidentally stumbled into before (when I was trying to find the poem "Question" by Mae Swensen). I'm just innocently trying to filch intellectual material and bask in scholarly discussions of literary Truth & Beauty (which are the same thing and that is all ye need to know), but these doctors, nurses, phaarmacists, paramedics and other health professionals are sitting around this website discussing The Great Books & Poems -- well, it's exactly like Oprah's Book Club, only these colonic facilitators want to know how The Great Books & Poems deal with the problem of having a human physical body and brain which sometimes act Funny, or is just shaped oddly, or dresses left (pizza slice to 1st Comment explaining that), or the medical or psychiatric context of Pippi Longstockings' flying pigtails.

Actually what this nice Book Club is really all about, as far as I can figure, is How To Spew Out Health Professionals Who Are Not Dumb As Rocks About Literature, and how knowing Literature can make a feller or gal a better Health Professional.

Ninety-nine out of a hundred Health Professionals will tell you: "Huh? What's a novel? Your problem has utterly nothing to do with The Pisan Cantos. You'll never get better if you read these useless books. In my experience, reading these kinds of things makes people ill in one way or another." The hundredth is Walker Percy. Or maybe Louis-Ferdinand Celine. I have some mild health issues. About 38 of them. Maybe with the Heathkit TM-212 I can have my childhood diseases attended to by that nice Dr. Celine down the block from my house in Paris, and then when I grow up again, get my Xnrqq fleebled by Walker Percy, and I'd be in New Orleans around Mardi Gras time (NOTE TO MIKE: I DON'T THINK YOUR VLEEPTRON JAVA EASTER DATE CALCULATOR WORKS ANYMORE. E-MAIL ME.) to get the fleebling, everybody a winner (and I have health insurance now, too, so Percy and his receptionist won't give me the Self-Pay Hairy Eyeball).

Doctors and nurses who can chat about Literature? That's insane! Vleeptron is having None Of That!

Anyway, the Whack Human Body & Brain Literature Club is organized by the Medical School of MY ... okay, I gotta be honest here. I never graduated. So it's not my Alma Mater. It's uhhhh my Alma Mater Lite, or my Diploma-Free Alma Mater. But it's New York University, the place founded by Dutch-American parents to provide a practical university education (as opposed to Columbia and all those beret-wearing absinthe-drinking oddballs) to their children. So my rents paid $$$$$$$$$$ to send me to study Drama in the Bronx and have Mazola Pretzel Troilism Parties for several years. Do rich people have Extra Virgin Olive Oil Parties? That word VIRGIN on the bottle probably makes them feel more depraved than MAZOLA.

About the novel "Johnny Got His Gun" by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo("Exodus," "Spartacus" -- oh just see ALL his movies, the list is extraordinarily interesting, and even his worst movies bat ideas around that are either simply very fascinating or had never before dared to be in any American film). Toward the end of his Blacklist exile in Mexico, Trumbo won his Best Screenplay Oscar for "Lonely Are the Brave" under a fake name, an alias, and when they announced "And the winner is ..." ... uhhh ... uhhh ... they waited for the guy, a guy, any guy to come up and accept his award ... and they waited ... and they waited ... Would SOMEONE PLEASE like to come up here and take this small gold statue please? People, we can't stand around here all night, we have other Academy Awards to present.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This book was first published two days after World War II began. Although it was not banned, the author and publisher voluntarily agreed to stop reprints until after the war ended. A movie of Johnny Got His Gun was released in 1971 and is available in videocassette from Media Home Entertainment (1982). I've seen the video and believe it doesn't do the book justice.

-- from commentary by Martin Kohn

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Incidentally, the NYU Sawbones & High Colonic Providers Literary Discussion Group commentator said "Question" is the Poetess contemplating her Death, which she can stand on a stepstool and see coming down the pike. I wrote the asshat and said it's the Poetess contemplating her lumbago and arthritis and rheumatiz and increasingly unreliable bladder. He wrote back, hmmmm, maybe, but Death seems more profound and interesting than the rheumatiz and the lumbago, we not make your correction.


Blogger Joana said...

Mr. Robert Merkin!

Your homework is LATE! BUT considering it is Shavuot and I'm busy in the kitchen making a scrunptious Cheesecake, you still have an extra day to deliver it :)

the cheesecake recipe in case you care do make it:)

Blogger Joana said...


typing fast hehe

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Happy Shavuot obrigado 4 the e-card is Shavuot what Christendom calls Pentacost? If so also Happy Pentacost. That means (in Greek or Latin) the festival of 5 Somethings. Or something Costs 5 Somethings.

Blogger Joana said...

Yes! Indeed!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Holiday of: Judaism and Jews
Name: Hebrew: שבועות or חג שבעות
Translation: "Festival of [seven] Weeks"
Begins: 6th day of Sivan
Ends: 7th (in Israel 6th) day of Sivan
Occasion: One of the Three Pilgrim Festivals. Celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments by God to the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai 49 days after the Exodus from ancient Egypt. Celebrating the harvest and first fruits in the Land of Israel.
Culmination of the 49 days of Counting of the Omer.

Symbols: Festive meals. Staying up at night (Tikkun leil) to learn Torah or Talmud. Eating of dairy foods at one meal.
Related to: Passover which precedes Shavuot.
Shavuot (Hebrew שבועות), ("[seven] weeks") (pronounced: shah-voo-OH-t) is one of the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. It is a major Jewish holiday, and is also known as the Feast of Weeks. Greek-speaking Jews gave it the name Pentecost (πεντηκόστη) since it occurs fifty days after Passover. If you don't count Passover, the holiday is 49 days after Passover, which is a jubilee of days. This ends the Counting of the Omer.

Shavuot has many aspects and as a consequence has been called by many names. In the Hebrew Bible it is called the "Feast of Harvest" (Hebrew: חג הקציר, Hag ha-Katsir; Ex. xxiii. 16) and the "Feast of Weeks" (Hebrew: חג שבעות, Hag Shavuot; ib. xxxiv. 22; Deut. xvi. 10), also the "Day of the First-Fruits" (Hebrew יום הבכורים, Yom ha-Bikkurim; Num. xxviii. 26).


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