The very first time I learned about the Jewish holiday of Shavuos I was both angry and excited. Why? I was angry because I didn’t know it existed until I was in Israel on a work/study program in Arad, Israel. I was invited to a program that required us to stay up all night and learn Torah. That’s not all. While we were up all night, we would be noshing on ice cream, cheesecake, and blintzes galore. I wanted in, but I wasn’t sure what the deal was with all of the dairy dishes. That is when I learned about Shavuos.
Every year at Passover, we start counting the days leading up to Shavuos. Why? This period of time represents when G-d gave the Jewish people the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Again, as a kid I always assumed the Torah was a part of the Jewish people from the beginning. Than again, I was so tuned-out during Hebrew school in my youth that it just passed me by. And this happened with talk of ice cream, blintzes, and cheesecake galore?
The beautiful thing about learning about Shavuot later in life is that I really get it. Before the Jews received the Torah, there were no laws. When the Jews received the Torah, the “road map” to living a Jewish life were received. For a Jew that came to the spiritual part of religion later in life, this made a lot of sense. In fact, Eitan Press wrote a nice piece in at HuffingtonPost.com about when the Jews received the Torah. Eitan said, ‘Translated, the word Torah means “instruction” or “teaching”’. He further explains that the Jewish people received both a Written Torah and an Oral Torah at Mt. Sinai. Why?
The reason is that G-d was very smart. He knew that the Jewish people would need an additional set of tools to really understand the reason behind Jewish law. I am thinking in modern days this would be the “owners manual” or “cliff notes”. For example, the laws of keeping a Kosher home. Sure, you can be told not to eat pork or shrimp, but where does that come from? Thankfully, there is the Oral Torah to further explain every aspect of Jewish life, from cradle to grave and everything in between. Here we are thousands of years later celebrating the giving of this knowledge. Let’s eat!
Some of the traditional foods associated with Shavuot are dairy. I found a couple of explanations of this in article “Eating Dairy Foods”, up on Chabad.org.When the Jews received the Torah, the laws of keeping kosher were introduced for the first time. This was also on a Shabbos, so the cows couldn’t be slaughtered nor the tools to do so. So, the dairy was consumed. That’s not all. It is also customary to serve dishes which include wheat, barley, honey, olives and other fruits of the Spring. Non food items like flowers celebrate spring as well. This is especially fun for kids as they make lovely projects in school that we place on the table for decorations.
Let’s eat again and again!
Shavuos Recipes from around the web:
The Kosher Scene http://kosherscene.wordpress.com/
…and many more from Gourmania! Just search for Shavuot or Shavuos and Blintzes!
While this is no fun for those allergic to dairy, there are delicious soy options so nobody has to be left out.
My mom made the best blintzes. I remember how they smelled the entire house up with a sweetness of baking. Even though I don’t have her exact recipe, I saw this recipe for Blintz Soufflé by Norene Gilletz on kosherscoop.com and it sounded pretty close.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
I usually make this soufflé with orange juice but mango juice adds a terrific twist.
12 Cheese Blintzes (above) or 1 dozen frozen blintzes (cheese, blueberry or cherry)
1 1/2 cups sour cream or yogurt (light or regular)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar or granular Splenda
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
1/2 cup mango or orange juice
1. Place blintzes in a single layer in a sprayed 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.
2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process sour cream or yogurt with vanilla extract and sugar for a few seconds. Add eggs and juice through feed tube while machine is running. Process until smooth.
3. Immediately remove bowl from base of machine to prevent leakage. Pour topping over blintzes.
(Can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.)
4. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 1 hour, until puffed and golden.
Reheats and/or freezes well. Serve with yogurt or sour cream and berries or with Best Berry Sauce.