Jun 8, 2016

Shavuot Traditions and Activities

The holiday of Shavuot marks the important wheat harvest in Israel and commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai. It's often celebrated by eating various dairy foods such as cheesecake and blintzes. Below are a few more ways to celebrate!

A Cut Above the Rest
The art of paper-cutting became part of Jewish life in the Middle Ages when Rabbi Shem-Tov ben Yitzhak ben Ardutiel's ink froze while writing a manuscript. A resourceful fellow, he did the next best thing - cut the letters into the paper. In the 17th Century, paper-cutting became a popular form for small religious artifacts like the mizrach sign (for facing the direction to Jerusalem), and Shavuot decorations. Paper-cutting spread to all the corners of the Jewish world. In the late 18th Century, Eastern European cheder and yeshiva students created intricate lace patterns of flowers that they called Shavuoslekh (little Shavuot) which they displayed in the windows of their homes. For various reasons the craft disappeared. However, in the late 20th Century it began enjoying a revival that continues until today.

Learn more about the history of Jewish papercuts here.

Here find five other easy paper-based crafts for Shavuot.

Moroccan Matzah Delicacy for Shavuot
Once Moroccan Jews recite the Kiddush on Shavuot eve, they take a few pieces of matzah that they saved from Passover, break them into small pieces, then add them to a mixture of honey and milk. Everyone gets a portion of this blend, reminding us that Shavuot marks the conclusion of our Exodus from Egypt and the beginning of our collective experience when we received the Torah.

Great Reads for Shavuot

Kopecks for Blintzes
Gitele and Yankl live in the town of Chelm, where the people are so foolish that they think they think they are the wisest people in the world. Shavuot is approaching, but Gitele and Yankl have no money to buy ingredients for blintzes. So they come up with a plan. Every day, they'll each put a coin into the empty trunk. By Shavuot, they'll have enough coins to buy the ingredients. But will they be able to stick to their plan and provide their family with delicious blintzes for Shavuot?

Cheesecake for Shavuot
To celebrate Shavuot, a spring harvest festival, children in Israel make cheesecake using flour they have ground from wheat they have grown in their school garden, fresh goat cheese from the friendly petting zoo goats, and fresh strawberries from the garden.

Sadie and the Big Mountain
When her preschool plans a Shavuot hike just like Moses took up Mt. Sinai, Sadie is afraid she is too little to make it to the top, and tries to think of ways to be absent. But when the day comes, she learns that anyone can climb high enough to reach God.

No Rules for Michael
Michael thinks school would be more fun without rules and gets his wish. But is it exactly what he was hoping for?

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