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This question has two parts:

  1. In the Diaspora, is Megillat Ruth read on the first day or the second day of Shavuot?
  2. At what point in the service is it read: before Hallel, after the Haftarah, at the end of Musaf...?

It may very well be that customs vary, in which case I would be satisfied with a discussion of a range of practices.

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Both the Artscroll and Koren Shavuot mahzorim have it (in the diaspora) right before taking out the Torah on the second day.

A recent custom in Israel is to read it before the start of the prayer service for those praying very early (at the netz) and who stayed up all night - so they can go to sleep as soon as practical.

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  • I have some vague memories that Italians read Kohelet before minchah, but they didn't read Ruth at all. May 19 at 10:00
  • Piattelli's Roman machzor (p. 162) writes to say it before minchah, but it's an א'י edition, so not that conclusive: angelopiattelli.com/prayer-books- May 19 at 15:56
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According to Prof Moshe Gavra (מחקרים בסידורי תימן vol 3, p 297), although the practice to read Ruth isn't found in early Yemenite maḥzorim, the minhag has spread since the 18th century. Rabbi Yaḥya Ṣalaḥ (מהרי״ץ) wrote that they had the custom to read Ruth before minḥa. The common practice among Baladi Jews and many Shami communities is to read Ruth at home and then again at synagogue before minḥa (as they do with Ḳohelet and Shir HaShirim).

An article by Chaim Simons in Sinai 118, pp 26–42 (specifically pp 29–30) describes some other practices:

  • Many diaspora Sepharadi communities (eg de Sola Pool maḥzor, Sephardic Heritage Foundation's Azharot book) have the practice of splitting Ruth into two and reading them after Azharot (between shaḥarit and musaf) on the two days. See also Soferim 14:18 and the old Romaniote rite (מחזור רומינה).
  • The Algerian practice is not to split it into two, but read it on day 2 after minḥa.
  • The Ashkenazi practice is to read it on day 2 before Torah reading. See Peri Megadim Eshel Avraham OC 490:8 for some (speculative) reasons: (a) the Torah was given on 7 Sivan, (b) people are tired on day 1 and there are already many piyyuṭim.

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