What To Do, What To Do?
Family fun for the Festival of Shavuot.
is 2050, and your family is gath-
ered together, and it's time to rem-
Remember the good old days,
when everyone used to sit around for
hours and hours and watch television?
Wasn't it great when the TV was on day
and night, for 10 hours straight some-
times, and we saw every infomercial
ever made and the children could liter-
ally recite commercials backward and
And remember that time our TV
broke, and we had to walk 10 miles in
the snow — and we were glad to do it
— in bare feet to buy another? Can
anything, anything ever duplicate our
love for that dear appliance? Boy, do
we miss those days!
One of the nicest features of a
Jewish holiday like Shavuot is that it
can mean genuine quality family time
— no shopping, no school projects,
no TV So after services, and cheese-
cake, and a nap (if you're lucky), what
to do with all this quality time?
Here are a few ideas that require
nothing more than your imagination.
#1) One aspect of Shavuot is its link
to agriculture. Challenge young chil-
dren to "build" a garden of blocks in
Have older children imagine a new
kind of tree, or ask them to make up a
story about an unusual tree, such as one
that blooms only in the winter. It's fun
to have one person begin the story, then
stop in the middle and have another
take over, continuing on until each fam-
ily member has had a turn to add
#2) On Shavuot, we celebrate God's gift
of the Torah to the Jewish people. Ask
your children what mitzvot, or com-
mandments, they like best of the 613.
Or, ask your children to create their
own Ten Commandments.
Another idea: ask your family which
of the commandments they find the
most difficult to observe and which the
easiest to observe.
Is being shomer Shabbat (Sabbath
observant) easier or more challenging
than the mitzvah of respecting your par-
ents? Do some mitzvot seem more
#3) On Shavuot we are told to rejoice.
What does that mean to your family?
Ask your children what are the happiest
times in their lives, and why this is the
"He found that one edge of the star
was a slide, at the bottom of which was
a cheesecake made of honey and gold.
The fish took the cheesecake on a pic-
nic. He sat on the grass and ate his cake
and drank orange juice, then went
home to write all about it on his com-
These can get very silly, and fun.
(Note: For younger children, or adults
with a lot of children who may feel they
have lost the capacity to remember any-
thing beyond the location of the front
door, try starting with five items.)
#5) Look at all your books and imagine
replacing, or adding, a dairy word, or
One of the nicest features of a Jewish holiday like
Shavuot is that it can mean genuine quality family
no shopping, no school projects, no TV
#4) Play a game that also will help you
improve your memory. Ask one child to
list 10 objects, another child to remem-
ber the 10 objects and tell a story hav-
ing to do with Shavuot (be very flexible
here) using the objects.
A child lists: fish, shoe, balloon, star,
slide, gold, honey, grass, orange juice,
A key to recalling objects is to quickly
link them in your mind in an image,
which also provides a great tale. So the
storyteller might say, "Once there was a
fish who wore shoes that had balloons
tied to the toes. One day the balloons
were overfilled with helium and the fish
flew to the sky, where he sat on a star.
more. Do your children like the writing
of Bruce Colville? How would they like
reading Vampires Don't Go To Cheesecake
Or are your girls fans of the Babysitter
Club, or Little Sister? How about Little
Sister: Susie's Cheese Kreplach Par ty Is A
For younger readers, there's nothing
like Green Eggs And Ham, Actually Soy
Protein Disguised As Ham, Which We
Enjoyed On Shavuot Because The Green
Reminded Us Of The Greenery On Mt.
#6) One of the most difficult, if not the
most difficult, mitzvah is to love your
fellow Jew as yourself Ask your chil-
dren, and yourself, what ways you can
better accomplish this commandment.
#7) Do you scream for ice cream? In a
memorable episode of "The Cosby
Show," Cliff Huxtable describes in
extensive detail the utter joy of tasting a
chocolate-covered cherry. Ask your chil-
dren to imagine that they are eating ice
cream, and talk about exactly what they
#8) No one is certain of the precise
location of Mt. Sinai, where the Jews
received the Torah. Do a little research
and learn more, or even solve the
#9) Survey your yard, or a window
sill, and find a place to plant your
own greenery for next Shavuot
(maybe you'll even have enough
flowers to fill your home!). A great
book to get you started is Kids
Garden by Avery Hart and Paul
Mantell (copyright 1996, published
Here you'll learn how to get a
garden started in a yogurt cup and
an egg carton, how to make your
own scarecrow, recipes for vegeta-
bles that you've grown (like cold
carrot soup with ginger and orange
juice) and how to attract butterflies —
and get rid of bugs.
#10) All right, you've done a great job
avoiding the TV. Now it's time to turn
it on — in your conversation.
The most famous figure of this holi-
day is a convert to Judaism, Ruth.
Ask your children to imagine that the
characters on their favorite TV show
have decided to convert to Judaism.
How would their lives change? What
could episodes of the show focus on
now? (You can also do this with
comic-book characters or any favorite