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Why Do We Eat Cheesecake on Shavuot?

Renee Eder on Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Next week we celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot and it involves one of my favorite things — eating cheesecake!

Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The two day long holiday, which begins on May 30 this year, marks the end of the seven week Counting of the Omer– the time period between Passover and the day God delivering the Torah to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai. 

So, what's with the cheesecake? Actually, there could be a number of reasons for the association of dairy with Shavuot. One reason is that some believe that because the Israelites had not yet received the kosher laws, they had prepared foods on the first Shavuot that did not follow kashrut. When they received the Torah, they read the new laws of kashrut and realized their meat dishes were not kosher, in accordance with God’s will– so they opted to eat dairy dishes only. Another reason, as explained in Tribe Magazine, is that the Hebrew word chalav (milk) has a numerical value of 40, which corresponds with the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah. Still others say that Shavuot occurs during the fertile spring period, when animal mothers produce lots of fresh milk.

In Israel, Shavuot is celebrated with fun water fights, lots of dairy dishes and desserts, and farmers from different parts of the country taking turns bringing their fruit and vegetable samples to Jerusalem – to the president. 

 However you celebrate, we hope you and your family have a happy Shavuot (with lots of cheesecake, if you desire it!)

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