Shavuot: one of the most important but least-known holidays in the Jewish calendar. Since it is thought to be the day that God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, one could debate that without this holiday there would be no Jewish culture!
While there are no prescribed commandments for this important holiday, here are my suggestions for fun and unique ways to celebrate the traditional customs:
Eat dairy products. (Basically the main reason I love this holiday.)
And who doesn’t love the annual Scooper Bowl? This Jimmy Fund fundraiser at City Hall Plaza is the ultimate event for ice cream lovers. Get all-you-can-eat samples by more than 15 ice cream makers from June 3-5, noon-8 p.m.
Read the Book of Ruth. (She’s the first Jew by choice!)
Ruth may have been the first woman who was strong enough to choose to become a Jew, but many great people followed in her path—famous for “Mr. Bojangles,” Sammy Davis Jr. converted to Judaism later in life after a near-fatal car accident. While in the hospital, his friend Eddie Cantor talked to him about Judaism and the apparent similarities between Jews and blacks. Clearly this made an impact because he converted and said of Judaism, “It teaches justice for everyone.”
Honor Ruth by listening to music by Sammy Davis Jr., or by watching a film with actress Isla Fisher (who converted to Judaism to marry Sacha Baron Cohen) or Elizabeth Taylor (who also converted later in life).
Decorate your home with greenery. (The Hebrew word for this is yerek.)
Make a terrarium! They’re all the rage and an easy way to bring green into an apartment. From “The Hobbit”-inspired to dinosaur-filled, Pinterest has 1,001 fun ways to play with jars, dirt and succulents.
Study Torah all night long. (Literally.)
The sixth annual Community Tikkun Leil Shavuot in Brookline is one local opportunity to learn some pretty cool things. The incredible Adina Allen will lead a Shira Yoga session, plus there will be cheesecake baking with Ganei Beantown, communal drumming and much more! Find other Shavuot study events here.
Read a liturgical poem. (Akdamut in Hebrew.)
Piyutim are Jewish liturgical poems that are sung from the Sephardic tradition. Piyut North America has brought this tradition to Boston through the practice of Shira Yoga. Listen to some beautiful Piyutim for Shavuot here.