I spent Shavuot in Belgrade, and finally got to meet the Belgrade Jewish community. It’s a bit hard to separate out how it was, because I was so anxious for news of home, having had a family emergency immediately prior to the holiday starting.
There were services at the synagogue on Tuesday night. There were a surprising number of people, after how empty it was when I was last there. There were even a good number of women. In addition to the Rabbi’s return, this may be partially accounted for because davening was followed by a community dinner (250 dinar, which I paid when I inquired about service times on Monday), for which they converted the community kosher kitchen to dairy (making everyone very excited, because this is a highly unusual event). The Rabbi introduced me to a few young women in my age range, and I sat with them at dinner. The food was delicious and the company pleasant.
Wednesday morning I also went to davening, which was much smaller, but there was a minyan (quorum for communal prayer) and the Rabbi assures me there are more people on shabbat. The shul / community is predominately Sefardi, so there were some interesting differences, the most noteworthy of which was a special Ladino prayer for Shavuot – a Ketubah (marriage contract) between G-d and the people of Israel. After services I ended up having lunch with the Rabbi’s family. It was a quiet affair. They tell me they’ve normally had 20-ish guests for Shavuot, but they were tired this year. It was perfect for me, a home cooked meal, and some nice time to talk with new people without being overwhelmed was really perfect for the moment.
The rest of the holiday was pretty quiet. I read. A lot. And watched the clock. A lot. And ate. Not so much, but enough.