Learn & Play
Lesson Plan

Shavuot Prayers - Roman Jewish Community 1450

In this activity, you will be working with a historical resource that suggests how Shavuot was celebrated in the oldest Jewish community known in Europe - the Roman Jewish community - in the 1400s.

Step back in time to the the Roman Jewish community in the 1400s to consider the effect illustrations can have on the prayer experience.

Group Activity

In pairs, use the worksheet to analyze the historical resource from the medieval Roman machzor.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think every person in the community had an illustrated machzor like this one?
  • What can be learned about the Jewish community of Rome from this historical source?

Imagine how Jews in the Roman community felt when they prayed using this machzor. How do you think the illustrations affected their feelings about the prayers?

Creative Activity

  • If you were illustrating a machzor for Shavuot, what aspects of the festival would you choose to illustrate?
  • Choose a text read on Shavuot or a text that describes an aspect or custom related to this festival. Consider its message and the feelings that you would like the person reading it to experience. Draw an illustration to accompany the text.
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In pairs, use the worksheet to analyze the historical resource from the medieval Roman machzor.

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