Shavuot is the Hebrew word for weeks. It is seven weeks from Passover and the exodus from Egypt, to Mount Sinai and the receiving of the Ten Commandments and the Torah. Scholars say this is the moment when the formerly-enslaved Israelites truly united to become the Jewish people. Other scholars call this a journey of enlightenment — so we get to eat “light” dairy foods such as ice cream, cheesecake, and blintzes.
Shavuot is one of Judaism’s three “Foot Festivals” or pilgrimage holidays, along with Passover and Sukkot. Ancient Jews from everywhere would travel to Jerusalem – you could take a family hike, visit relatives, or plan a future pilgrimage of your own. Shavuot is also a harvest holiday – visit a farm or try a new fruit or vegetable.
Shavuot, of course, is about Torah and learning. How perfect that it usually comes at the end of the school year, when we celebrate the completion of one school year and plan for the next. One tradition is the Tikkun leil Shavuot, an all night study session — have a pajama party and read some PJ Library books or look at the stars. Shavuot is a perfect opportunity to reinforce the family values that you care about – telling the truth, honoring others, and tzedakah (righteous giving.)