Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that starts on Tuesday night, is a holiday of bellyaches. For a group of people known for our, ahem, “issues with lactose,” it seems almost cruel that one of the Jewish calendar’s major holidays would come along with the tradition of eating cheesecake, cheese-filled blintzes, gooey lasagna and other dairy-licious foods. (Bring on the Lactaid!)

But Shavuot is fortunately about other things too. It commemorates the day that God gave the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, which is arguably the single most important day in Jewish history. Receiving the Torah marked the beginning of an entirely new and exciting chapter for the Israelites – one that opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

Shavuot is also connected to the ancient grain harvest in Israel, specifically the end of barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. During the festival, people would bring the bikkurim (“first fruits”) from their fields to the Temple in Jerusalem as thanks. Harvests mark the culmination of a season’s worth of toil, and the final bounty that comes after weeks of patience and preparation. But with every ending comes – you guessed it! A new beginning, and a new opportunity to envision the future we want to live in.

As we enter Shavuot, how can we make the most of this season of new beginnings, of newness and possibility? One way is to begin to plant seeds – both literal and metaphorical – that, with time, can bring the change we hope to see in the world. On a personal level, try making a list of three goals, hopes, or dreams you have for the coming months (or years). Ask yourself: what steps can I take now, at the beginning, to get on a path towards something great?

On a global level, support people who are following their own dreams. Here are several awesome micro-lending organizations and other orgs that let you support small farmers and business people who are making the world a better place:

  • KIVA – Support artisans, farmers, and small businesses with loans that they repay (so you can lend again and again!)
  • Slow Money – Help farmers support and finance sustainable agriculture across the country.
  • Women Advancing Microfinance – Support women in reaching their education, career and leadership goals.

How will you celebrate Shavuot’s season of new beginnings? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #shavuot.