Shavuot for Families and for the World

As we just passed Israel’s Independence Day and continue to learn to celebrate holidays in all new ways, I thought I would bring attention to Shavuot and to one of the less known connections of this holiday—namely its connection to water.

The holiday of Shavuot has many meanings; it is the time of year that we received the Torah in Mount Sinai and, metaphorically, all of us were present to receive it. We recognize Ruth, a convert to Judaism, as a heroic woman, teaching us to look for heroes—and “she-roes”—for what they are and not who we may think they are. It teaches us to value nature and walking in the wilderness where we received the Torah. We celebrate by eating delicious dairy food like delicious blintzes and ice cream—even though we are not sure why! I hope you’ll do a rain dance this Shavuot too—for that, I have learned why.

We are hopeful that the end of May allows us to be outdoors more. In Israel, Shavuot is the holiday of water. Water is essential to our world and growth, and even for fun. The origins of this holiday of water tradition aren’t entirely clear. Some link it to North African Jewish communities ( that celebrated water on Shavuot because the Torah is sometimes compared to the life-giving properties of water. In addition, it’s the start of the hot season; frolicking outside with water is one of the fun ways Israelis celebrate. Israelis also embrace the water idea by taking hikes along rivers and streams.

Global awareness and the need to upgrade our thinking and appreciation of our resources, the earth and one another may help us pause to consider other ways water is invaluable to life as we know it. It helps us find ways to preserve and value water with more consideration.

Teaching ourselves and our kids to turn off water when we are not actively using it—such as when we are washing dishes or brushing teeth—is one small, easy to change habit. Collecting rain water for our gardens may be more difficult but worth considering. As a kid growing up in Israel and Florida, most rains left warm puddles I loved—and still love—jumping into. Rain dances are so much fun!

PJ Library would like to thank Little Scientists offering a water-focused program in kindness as a service to our community and the planet. In this two-part series on May 3 and 24 at 10:30 a.m. for families with children ages 4-8, we will connect Judaism and science, including learning about water. There is no charge but pre-registration is required.

If you would like your children to learn more about science, Little Scientists’ experiential classes offer opportunities from your home. Find out more at, or

For more information and registration for May events, contact PJ Library's Mindfulness Educator Stacey Battat at or visit

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