Shavuot is almost here! For reasons that we here at PJ Library will never understand, it continues to be one of the most underrated of the kid-friendly Jewish holidays. Originally a harvest festival, Shavuot comes seven weeks after the start of Passover, and celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Shavuot is also the unofficial universal "eat all the ice cream you can" holiday of the Jewish people. Seriously -- Shavuot is a holiday that feels made for the young and young at heart. Looking for some easy ways to celebrate with your family? Try one of these activities:
Related: Why Kids Love Shavuot (and You Will Too)
Learn Something New
Learning to make Ice Cream for a Shavuot PJ Party
One pre-Shavuot custom is to stay up all night before the holiday to study. While keeping toddlers and tweens awake past their bedtimes may throw your weekend routine wildly off the rails, hang out in your pajamas as a family and make it a point to learn about something new together. Read a book about animals, practice some Hebrew words and phrases, explore another culture, or watch an educational video together.
Do a Mitzvah (or Two)
The story of Shavuot is told in the Bible in the Book of Ruth. While the story of Ruth may be too sophisticated for younger children to learn, the values embodied by the story—friendship, feeding the hungry, taking care of others, compassion—are something that children of all ages can definitely understand. Mitzvot (that’s the plural of mitzvah), are often thought of as “good deeds” but the real translation of the word is “commandment.” Follow the spirit of Ruth and Naomi and do a mitzvah to mark the day. Not sure where to start? Take a look at this list, pick one and go for it.
Eat Something Cheesy
image via PJ Library in Winnipeg
One very delicious and fun Shavuot tradition is eating dairy. Some people say that the reason to consume dairy treats on Shavuot is because not eating meat makes everyone feel lighter, physically—a good reminder about the spiritual light that comes with receiving the Torah. Watch the video above to learn more about why people enjoy dairy on Shavuot.
Create Papercut Shapes
illustration from The Art Lesson: A Shavuot Story written by Allison and Wayne Marks with illustrations from Annie Wilkinson
An Eastern European Shavuot tradition involves making elaborate papercut art to hang in your window as a decoration. The story, The Art Lesson by Allison and Wayne Marks includes a wonderful papercutting tutorial at the end of the book. For more paper cut crafts, check out PJ Library’s Shavuot Pinterest board.
Make Flower Crafts and Crowns
Children in Israel wear crowns of flowers on Shavuot, symbolizing the spring harvest and the crowns of the Torah. Make some of your own using cloth flowers or the real thing. You can also paint with flowers, take a trip to a local botanical garden, or use flowers to paint and explore color and texture. Find ideas for fun with flowers here.
Everything You Need to Know About Shavuot via kveller.com
Kid-Friendly Crafts for Shavuot
Shavuot Values for Preschoolers via kveller.com
Shavuot Activities for Kids via My Jewish Learning
Three Ways to Make Ice Cream for Shavuot via ReformJudaism.org
March 30, 2021