Shavuot celebrates the Jewish people receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai. During the time of the Temple in Jerusalem, it was also a pilgrimage holiday where farmers brought an offering of the first fruits of the seven species native to the land of Israel:
wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.
Shavuot means 'weeks' because it takes place seven weeks after Passover (commemorating the Exodus from Egypt), during which the Jewish people prepared themselves to receive the Torah.
The holiday takes place on the 6th and 7th days of Sivan. To find out when it starts according to the modern (Gregorian) calendar, use
Learn more facts about the holiday
or for traditional religious explanations, click
Of all the Jewish holidays, this one (in my opinion) is the tastiest. Only dairy foods are eaten, and Jews throughout the world enjoy foods such as cheese blintzes (a kind of crêpe), and cheesecakes.
One explanation for the custom of eating only dairy is that when the Jewish people first received the Torah they didn't know all the laws pertaining to the kosher slaughter of animals and preparation of meat, and so they ate dairy instead.
Celebrating in Israel
On a regular day Israelis eat a lot of dairy foods, but on Shavuot this goes overboard. Cheesecakes are particularly popular and there are countless versions. Another popular dish is a pashtida (similar to a quiche) which is a baked dish made with various combinations of cheeses, eggs and vegetables.
Around the holiday there are several food festivals including a wine festival in Tel Aviv and a wine and cheese festival in Haifa. Visiting a kibbutz on the holiday is a popular activity as they are open for visits and have different events and activities related to the harvest and agriculture and life on the kibbutz.
As this holiday is one of the three biblical pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem,it is a very popular time to visit Jerusalem, in particular the Western Wall.
Kids Celebrating in Israel
Preschoolers learn about the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, the pilgrimage that took place during the time of the Temple in Jerusalem, traditional songs and also about dairy foods. They also learn about the seven species of fruits and grains from the land of Israel.
To celebrate, kids wear white and bring decorated baskets filled with fruit and vegetables along with a dairy treat. They wear a wreath of flowers around their heads, and sing related holiday songs and enjoy a dairy meal along with the fresh produce.
Time to cook! Try some dairy recipes
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