Shavuot Festivities at Mandelbaum

Shavuot is a significant festival in the Jewish tradition. This year our residents decided to focus on the universal virtues and values that each of the holiday’s customs can teach us. Of course, we didn’t give up on a fun afternoon of cheesecake baking that launched our celebrations!

Inspired by the tradition of Tikkun Shavuot, we decided to nurture the virtues of being curious, open-minded, and studious. On Sunday, we held a night of 5-8 minute long “Ted Talks”, where our residents had an opportunity to educate their friends in a topic of their choice. The talks ranged from graffiti culture, the science behind musical harmonies, internet memes and much more. After enjoying an inspiring evening accompanied with wine and cheese, we continued to have a Ruach (רוּחַ ‘spirit’) dance party. The next day, we held a late-night study session, and fueled our brains with a delicious ice cream bar and snacks.

Protecting the environment is a value that we in Mandelbaum hold dear, and that we make a constant effort to live by. Shavuot is a dairy holiday, and so we took this opportunity to raise awareness for reducing carbon footprint: the college was meat free throughout the holiday, especially on Meatless Monday, when we promoted data and facts about the benefits of reducing meat consumption for the environment. Since Shavuot is also known as the holiday of water, we took the initiative to conserve water by raising awareness and encouraging reducing water usage in the college. Sadly, in some places water fights are still a major part of the celebrations, but we hope that we contributed to changing this custom.

Finally, Shavuot is also a charitable holiday. We choose to make care packages and donate them to Support the Girls. Each package included a book (kindly donated from Sappho books in Glebe), a piece of jewelry, a face mask or lip balm, and some chocolate. We also added a bag of undergarments to our donations.

All and all, we had a wonderful festival. This was all made possible thanks to a generous donation from Professor Matthias Henze, who is a former Mandelbaum House scholar in residence.