True Confession: We have been inconsistent in our approach to the Shalosh Regalim. We celebrate them, of course. The inconsistency has been with the kids’ school attendance. Pesach: off. Sukkot: sometimes off, sometimes we send them. Shavuot: we send them.
The recent issue with the JCC’s decision to remain open on the chagim (here and here, if you need a refresher) served as the perfect motivation to revisit our family practice as we approached this year’s Shavuot celebration.
One of the difficulties of being in a Reform community is that those of us who choose to be observant find ourselves observing alone. I don’t see tremendous value in keeping my kids home from school just to say that they had stayed out of school. If they are going to stay home, it should be to observe the chag in some fashion.
Since my own shul has never had a morning chag service, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for us to visit another community. And so began my quest to find a Shavuot observance for us.
I started with a near-by Conservative shul. Their primary observance was a Tikkun Leil Shavuot on erev Shavuot. A Festival service at 9:30am on Wednesday morning, but no indication of any kids’ programing. As I widened my search to the counties both north and south, I discovered a curious trend; the Tikkun Leil Shavout appears to have become the Shavuot observance. And the Shacharit services, in most locations, are simply an early morning minyan. An acknowledgement that Conservative Jews are going to work and are not likely to attend a full festival service.
As for some type of kid-friendly Shavuot observance, it seems to have been relegated to the nearest Sunday. Leaving the next generation without anything age-appropriate on the actual chag itself.
What’s a rabbi to do??
Wait just a minute…I’m a rabbi. What if I just organize a Shavuot experience for my kids and a few of their friends?
Which is exactly what we did.
Breakfast — chocolate Entenmann’s Donuts and milk as the kids and I shared our favourite Torah stories.
Gleaning strawberries at a local farm (efforts donated to a local food bank)
Lovely dairy lunch prepared by a friend
Ice cream cake for dessert
Ice cream for dinner
(Why Entenmann’s donuts? I was first introduced to these donuts at the first Tikkun Leil Shavuot I ever attended. More info in another post.)
Was it a Sinai-experience?
Not in the way I have always thought of a Sinai-experience. But it was a day filled with Torah, the warm earth, friends, and God.
Guess it’s time to expand my understanding of Sinai.