Tips to celebrate Shavuot
After Purim and Passover, Shavuot almost comes as an after-thought. Traditional Jewish households anticipates Shavuot and count on, just as the Omer is counted, each day from the second night of passover, until the 49th day when Shavuot arrives. But most American Jewish households let Shavuot, which means literally "weeks," pass without much notice. We gladly present to you a list of ideas that will enliven the otherwise toned-down festival.
- Shavuot reminds us of how the Jewish people received the Torah on Mt Sinai. So, it would be a good idea to stage a play or even a skit and re-enact the episode of the Israelites receiving of the Torah.
- Shavuot, we all know, celebrates the first fruits. It is in one sense the celebration of Nature's bounty. You can visit a pick-your-own farm and have a good time gathering baskets of ripening fruits in the warm sun and later relish them.
- It is customary for the Jews to hold a study vigil on the eve of Shavuot called Tikkun Leil Shavuot, or the Repair of Shavuot Evening. This time try something removed from the drab ritual. Right after the evening service, ma'ariv, and lasting until dawn, have the congregation share their knowledge on subjects ranging from passages from Talmud, to the exploration of the reason behind the drinking of grape-juice for Kiddush, to contemporary literature. The idea is to do away with the fatigue of staying awake all night. Food to sustain you through the long night is highly recommended.
- Bring the outdoors in. Decorate your household with greenery and involve your entire family in it. You can also ask your kids to lend a hand. Make wreaths of flowers and leaves for children in your locality and distribute them. They will love it.
- Sit with your family and review the Ten Commandments and as a family come up with your own top-ten list. It should ideally be an ethical covenant for your family to follow alongside the original - and ultimate - ten.
- Read the book. The Torah, that is. It's the central reason for the holiday in the first place, so take out a translation, sit down and read.
For youngsters, a number of simplified retellings are a good way to start.Get hold of a colorful illustrated series and a number of anthologies of Bible stories for children.