Shavuot

Fruit and Vegs

Shavuot is an important Jewish holiday celebrating both the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and the first spring harvest. It will begin this week on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in the evening, celebrated two days by Orthodox and Conservative Jews, and one day by Reform Jews. Shavuot means “weeks” in Hebrew, and refers to the seven week period between Passover and Shavuot. It is called in Hebrew, Chag Hakatzir, the Festival of the Grain Harvest, and Chag Habikurim, The Festival of the First Fruits. At the end of Passover, farmers in ancient times planted their spring crops of grains and fruits and began counting seven weeks until Shavuot, when it was their hope that they would have a successful growing season. They would bring their first grains and fruits to Jerusalem to the holy Temple as offerings of thanksgiving to God. The other major component of the holiday is celebrating God’s giving of the Torah to Moses and the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, which is called in Hebrew, Chag Matan Torah, The Festival of the Giving of the Torah. The Torah, is the code of rules that Jews live by which includes the Ten Commandments. The Shavuot service in the synagogue includes the reading of the Ten Commandments, the Book of Ruth and songs in praise to God. It is a time of great rejoicing. Homes and the synagogues are decorated with flowers, fruits and greenery. It is customary to eat foods made from grains and dairy foods such as blintzes and cheesecake (two blintzes side by side on a plate look like the Torah scroll!), based on the idea that the Torah nourishes us like milk. Also, another reason for eating dairy foods on Shavuot may be that the Torah was given on Shabbat, the Sabbath, and according to the rules of the Torah, it was not permitted to slaughter meat on Shabbat, therefore dairy foods were eaten.

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