The Jewish holiday of Shavuot starts this weekend. As far as holidays go, it’s pretty big one: the anniversary of the day the Jewish people received the Torah on Mount Sinai and also one of the Jewish calendar’s three pilgrimage festivals, which celebrates the beginning of the wheat harvest in Israel.
One of the ways people celebrate Shavuot is to stay up all night studying – a practice that dates back at least 400 years. Friends gather together and fortify themselves with big cups of coffee, lots of cheese blintzes (it’s also a custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot) and a stack of Jewish texts – both ancient ones, like the Book of Ruth, and also modern ones. (For some great Shavuot learning opportunities, check out AJWS’ Jewish social justice text database, On 1 Foot.)
For those of us who pull all-nighters for school (or who remember doing that), staying up all night studying may not seem like a lot of fun. But when you think about it, the opportunity to devote a night to education, and having the resources to do it, is not a privilege shared by everyone. That’s why Shavuot, with its focus on learning, is the perfect holiday to think about education for all. How can we make Shavuot our inspiration to promote access to education, literacy and strong classrooms for students throughout the country and world?
Here are a few places to start. Check out the six organizations below, all of which are working to make education more accessible, then click through their sites to find out how you can support their work and make a difference:
- Global Education Fund: An organization that works to improve the lives of children living in poverty through education.
- 826 National: An organization that promotes creative and expository writing skills in elementary and high school students in fun and creative ways. (Read Repair the World’s interview with 826 volunteer, Michelle Snyder.)
- Machshava Tova: An Israeli organization working to close the digital and educational gaps within Israel’s students. (Check out Repair the World’s feature story on Machshava Tova.)
- Raising a Reader: A national organization that promotes childhood literacy by helping families establish reading routines at home.
- Class Wish: An organization that empowers parents, teachers and communities to make a difference in kids’ classrooms, by providing them with the school supplies they need to thrive.
- Edible Schoolyard: Founded by famous foodie, Alice Waters, this organization promotes an “edible education” by building hands-on, sustainable food curriculums for schools.
How will you stand up for education this Shavuot? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.