Shavuot in Israel: cheesecake time!

Shavuot is the Jewish holiday celebrating God’s handing of the Ten Commandments to Moses at Mount Sinai. Shavuot, which literally means weeks in English, is usually celebrated by consuming large amounts of dairy products, with cheesecake being perhaps the life and soul of every Shavuot family gathering.

When is Shavuot? The holiday of Shavuot falls on the Hebrew calendar date of Sivan 6-7 and is always seven weeks exactly after Passover (though some do dispute the exact timing). This year (2014) it falls on June 3-4. In Israel Shavuot is celebrated for one day only, whereas in the diaspora (Jews living outside Israel) it is celebrated for 2 days. In the Christian world Shavuot is known as Pentecost.

Shavuot, is a nice little holiday, and I’ve usually spent it at family/in-law gatherings, where there has been some great flans among dairy dishes galore, usually topped off by a delish cheesecake or blintzes. This year is no exception, it should be a feast to enjoy!

Why cheesecake, and dairy products in particular? According to Jewish tradition, the Ten Commandments handed to Moses included laws on how to prepare meat for eating. As all their utensils were no longer “kosher” according to these new laws, the Jews on Mount Sinai ate dairy products for the first time, which according to the Ten Commandments were now permitted (previously it had been forbidden to eat produce, including milk, from a live animal).

If you’re here on holiday and not spending time with local family or friends, you probably won’t even realise there’s a holiday on, except for the mass of people on the beach or in the city center mid-week (as mid-week it’s a national holiday). But if you’re offered some cheesecake, go for it!

Here’s a quick taste of what you can typically expect on Shavuot, especially if you visit one of the many kibbutzim or moshavs celebrating in style (the BEST way to celebrate Shavuot!)…

Some good Shavuot resources:

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