ORIGINALLY AN ANCIENT HARVEST FESTIVAL celebrating the grain crop, Shavuot means "weeks" in Hebrew. It is the holiday is celebrated seven weeks after Passover begins. Shavuot is also recognized as the anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai and most Shavuot celebrations are centered on Torah study and other Jewish learning. On the first night of the holiday many people stay up all night studying Jewish texts.
There is a custom of eating dairy foods--especially cheesecakes and blintzes--on Shavuot. The reason for this tradition is not entirely clear, but one popular explanation is that immediately after the Israelites received the Torah and learned about the laws of keeping kosher, it was too complicated for them to begin butchering and preparing fresh kosher meat. So they stuck with eating dairy--and now we do the same on Shavuot to commemorate this.
Holiday descriptions provided by Kveller.com.
Shavuot PJ Library Books
Here is a list of Shavuot-related books sent out by PJ Library either this year or in the past.
Review All the Shavuot-Related Books
Shavuot Activities & Recipes
Here are several resources for hands-on holiday preparations.
- "Kid-Friendly Mt. Sinai Crafts"
Edible, artful, and flowerful hands-on holiday crafts for children.
- The Book of Ruth"
Sparking conversations about friendship and loyalty.
This holiday round-up from Kveller.com includes everything from activities and recipes to histories and parent viewpoints.
- "Shavuot Values for Preschoolers"
Also from Kveller.com, writer Lisa Samick suggests teaching children about Ruth & Boaz and the values of charity, friendship, and kindness.
- "Moses on Mount Sinai"
From our partners at Shalom Sesame, this video depicts Grover and his friends from Rechov Sumsum in an animated version of the story of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
- "How the Jewish People Received the Torah"
From Chabad.org Kids, this animated video, and the supporting educational materials available on its page, explores the story of Shavuot.
- "Camp Out or Camp In for Shavuot"
With a list of fun activities, MyJewish Learning.org helps make the holiday a kid-friendly experience.
- "Raising a Mentsch"
Thinking about the Ten Commandments and what it means to be a good person? This piece from Kveller.com writer Sharon D. Estroff offers parents direction in raising good people.
- "How to Talk to Your Kids about God"
In this MyJewish Learning.org piece, Rabbi David Wolpe offers parents guidiance in responding to questions about God.
- Counting the Omer with Children
Engaging ways to Count the Omer, a PJ Library blog post.
- Parenting and the Ten Commandments
Instilling the core principles and values of Judaism in children, a PJ Library blog post.
- Commandments for the Belly
Food related "10 Commandments" created by Jewish writers, a PJ Library blog post.
(Trans) Denominational Resources
Check out the Shavuot-related resources provided by these Jewish organizations and movements:
Jewish Outreach Institute
Society for Humanistic Judaism
Union for Reform Judaism
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism