Shavuot is celebrated on the 6th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, or this year, on May 19th, 2010. The word Shavuot literally means ‘weeks.’ Shavuot is the second of the three pilgrimage holidays that we have celebrated this year, the first one being Passover.
Shavuot is directly related to Passover in that it marks the ending of the Counting of the Omer, which starts on the second day of Passover. The period of counting, 50 days, signifies when the Children of Israel were walking through the desert, and arriving at Mt. Sinai. Since Shavuot is a celebration of when God gave Moses the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the counting of the days and weeks is a sign of the desire and anticipation by the Jews to receive the Torah from God. Shavuot is also associated with the end of the grain harvest in Israel.
Shavuot is mandated biblically in Leviticus 23:15-21. There are three common traditions associated with Shavuot. The first tradition is to study from the Torah all night long. The second one is to decorate the home or Temple with grass and flowers. This signifies the miraculous flowering at Mt. Sinai according to the Midrash.
Lastly, and one of my favorites, is the eating of dairy products. (It is always about the food!) There are many reasons for this. Most of them refer to the laws that were given to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai in the Torah that were different than what they had been doing before. It is thought that Shavuot was the first time the Jews ate dairy products because before that they were only eating meat.
But all this talk about dairy leads me to one comment I have about dairy: Lactose Intolerance. Lactose intolerance plagues 30 to 50 million Americans. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. However, lactose intolerance can be caused by other diseases of the intestinal tract, such as Celiac disease. If you feel like you have a hard time digesting milk products, try them again six months after going Gluten Free. You might find that NEXT Shavuot, you too can have your CHEESE-cake and eat it too!
Randi’s Favorite Cream Cheese Pie
1 ½ cup finely ground GF graham crackers from Outside the Breadbox
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup butter
2- 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
½ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
In a food processor, mix graham cracker crust with butter and sugar. If too dry, add more butter.
Press into a 9 inch pie crust pan.
Mix softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add eggs and continue mixing for 3 minutes.
Pour into pie crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Cool and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.
Top with your favorite fruit. Makes 8 servings