Friday, June 17, 2011

But We Are

Last year I lamented the lack of attention most Jews pay to the holiday of Shavuot. I reported in that post that "my kids didn't really celebrate Shavuot. Also, as I had predicted, there were very few people at services. No one thinks Shavuot is important enough to take their kids out of school ... ." Commenter Shtuey pointed out that "[t]here is no ritual practice associated with the festival. There is no seder, no building of a temporary structure, no lighting of multi-branched cand[elabra], etc. The best it gets is that we eat dairy."

So far, I have not figured out how to get people excited about Shavuot. But I wanted to go a step further this year and take the kids to the service. At the very least it would give them a clue that a holiday happens in late spring/early summer, even if most people, even Jews, haven't heard of it; the fact that people show up in the middle of the week for a service at the synagogue is "proof."

The problem was that Einstein (8) was supposed to have Field Day (which they call "Spring Swing") on the day I was to take him out of school for the holiday. It felt wrong to deprive him of Spring Swing. I was going to take his little brother only. But then the forecast said that the temperature would reach about a million degrees, with crappy air quality, and they cancelled Spring Swing. I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

In the morning, Einstein asked, "why can't I go to the service?" I said, "well, you can if you want to." He said that he wanted to, and while I realized that he might have been at least partially motivated by a desire to get out of going to school, I was sure that telling him he could had to go to school instead would send the wrong message. Even if, every year, he looks at the Jewish calendar and happily exclaims "oh look! I can get out of school on this day!", I would prefer that to "oh, look, another boring Jewish thing this month ::groan::"

We were getting ready to leave for the synagogue and in the entryway I gave the kids a bit of a warning that there probably would not be very many other children; that, in fact, they might be the only ones. Seeing their confused looks, I said, "well, this is an important holiday, but for some reason many people don't treat it that way."

Without missing a beat, Einstein said, "but we are."

Indeed. You've earned your day off, kid.


cotopaxis said...

Cool kid. Clearly, he lives up to nickname.

MS said...

and how did it turn out? Good service? other kids?

Shtuey said...

Hmm...Spring Swing vs Torah. One is a memory that lasts a minute, the other, G-d willing, a lifetime.

It is definitely a challenge to make Shavuot relevant. I personally try to really assess just how deeply I have internalized my connection to the Torah. I typically reach the same conclusion...not nearly enough...and so I try to make more of an effort, which ends up being some kind of small step that inevitably feels inadequate. Then I remember my Pirke Avot, which tells us that we are not required to finish the work, but neither are we allowed to abandon it.

I also indulged in EXTREME MILCHIGS!

12tequilas said...

A few kids came for the Shavuot Shmooze, which was really a preschool event (at one point the rabbi came over and asked us if the kids were staying or going over for that; I'm pretty sure they were both too old...I'm going to push for a program for older kids first day Shavuot 2012, which is a Sunday). Other than that, no other kids. Now MS is going to tell us that lots of kids came to Shavuot services at his shul. ::sigh:: we're working on it, more on this later.

As for the milchigs (dairy foods), yeah, that's key. Unfortunately, my weird family isn't into blintzes. I know they aren't necessary but they are traditional!