Sixth & I’s “The Ten” offered literature, song and religious study to herald in Shavuot

Nathan Englander discusses his work with "New York Times" writer David Segal. /photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Sixth & Iopened its doors to the local Jewish community Tuesday in order to celebrate Shavuot, which chronicles when Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Fiction writer Nathan Englander was interviewed for a live audience by David Segal of the New York Times. Much of the talk centered around a recent translation he did of the Passover Haggadah, his religious upbringing, and his novel, “The Ministry of Special Cases,” though his commentary on each question was intense and far-reaching.

Indie rock band DeLeon performs Sephardic-inspired music. /photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Later, participants had the chance to either study the idea of Jewish “chosenness” with Rabbi Shira Stutman, or listen to a set of music by indie rock band DeLeon.The group cranked out a few hours’ worth of Sephardic-inspired tunes.

Also downstairs in the social hall where the band played there were several snacks, including cookies, ice cream sodas and other dairy delectables that are traditional on Shavuot, plus chips, New York pickles and freshly brewed beer. In the corner, people gathered to watch a muted showing of Cecil B. DeMille’s famous “The Ten Commandments,” inspired by the Passover story, which led ancient Israelites to wander the desert and receive the Torah.

The evening concluded with a minyan service, then traditional Torah study from 10 until midnight. All in all, it was an incredible experience, and a chance for people to connect to Judaism on several different levels. The event was free to all, thanks in part to donations from various foundations and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

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