According to Jewish tradition, Jews are instructed to count the days of the "omer" -- the barley sheaf -- until the fiftieth day, which is when the first barley crop would be harvested. The fiftieth day is the Jewish holiday of Shavuot when, the rabbis tell us, Jews received Torah at Mt. Sinai. During the Omer period, reading Pirke Avot (Ethics of our Ancestors) -- the most popular and accessible part of the Talmud -- is also a traditional part of these seven weeks. Pirke Avot is a source of ethical teachings codified around the year 200 C.E.
In 2005, Shavuot also corresponded with the 50th birthday of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. To celebrate our 50th birthday, JRF invited everyone to share in the study of Pirke Avot together. Reconstructionist Rabbis and educators presented three Mishnayot (sections) from one perek (chapter) of Pirke Avot on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each week.
The teachings were:
Chapter Date Teachers
1 May 2, 2005 Rabbis Fredi Cooper, Jeffrey Eisenstat, Shai Gluskin
2 May 9, 2005 Deborah Eisenbach-Budner
3 May 16, 2005 Rabbis Shawn Zevit and Fredi Cooper
4 May 23, 2005 Rabbi Richard Hirsh
5 May 30, 2005 Rabbi Steve Segar
6 June 6, 2005 Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer
See http://188.8.131.52/pirke-avot/index.html for more information.