Shavuot is a holiday that celebrates the day that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people while they were assembled at Mount Sinai, shortly after the exodus from Egypt. Shavuot is also connected to the season of the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks, which began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. Beginning on the second evening of Passover, and ending yesterday evening, Jews count the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, called the Counting of the Omer. Shavuot is the concluding festival of the grain harvest.
Shavuot is unlike other Jewish holidays in that it has no prescribed Torah commandments, other than the traditional observances for every holiday which includes abstention from work, special prayer services and holiday meals. However, Shavuot is characterized by many specific customs, including the reading of the Book of Ruth and the consumption of dairy products like milk and cheese.
Jewish holidays are often stereotyped as revolving around food (“They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!”), and most Jewish cookbooks you find will contain an abundance of recipes for meat dishes. It’s a nice change to have a holiday that is customary to have dairy, but the usual blintzes and cheesecake can become tiresome year after year, which brings me to this great recipe! This is an older one that I got from my mother and that I’ve tweaked over time, but it’s easy and delicious and I recommend trying it if you’re looking for a Shavuot recipe or a twist on the traditional lasagna.
Check out our contributor Chutzpah in the Kitchen for the full recipe and cooking instructions.
The Staatlicher Hofkeller Winery is located on a square in the heart of the German city of Würzburg. Visitors are greeted by a clear, golden sign in the center of the entrance hall, stating in German and in Hebrew: “Twin Wineries – for mutual understanding, exchange of knowledge and brave friendship.”
The sign marks the moving connection between the 885-year-old German winery and its Israeli twin.
A special tasting of Teperberg 1870 wines was held last week in the fancy wine cellars of the Hofkeller Winery as part of the Twin Wineries project, which is marking its fifth anniversary.
The Twin Wineries project is one of the most fascinating initiatives in the wine industry in Israel. It aims to promote inter-cultural dialogue between high-quality wineries in Germany and Israel, and more importantly – strengthen the ties between the two countries.
The project has created collaborations between wineries in the two countries, shared technical knowledge (in Hofkeller, for example, pipettes were introduced into the vineyards after a visit to Israel), encouraged export and import of wine and promoted wine in the origin country of each of the wineries.
The project was initiated by Baruch and Renée Salzman, the owners of Zag Wines, an exporter of Israeli wines to Germany which is responsible for exporting the products of wineries such as Tulip, Vitkin and others. Sixteen wineries have joined the project so far, eight from each country.
The Margalit Winery was matched to the Heymann-Löwenstein Winery in the Mosel region, the Vitkin Winery to the Georg Mosbacher Winery in Pfalz, the Golan Heights Winery teamed up with the Kloster Eberbach Winery, and Teperberg 1870 – with Hofkeller.
The Hofkeller Winery was founded in 1128 and specializes in white wines in general and in the Silvaner and Riesling grape varieties in particular. Its wines, which originate in the famous Stein vineyard on the banks of the Main River, graced the tables of European royal families and were famous in Germany and elsewhere, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. During that period, German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe praised the winery’s wines, which he considered his favorite.
“Jewish immigrants from all over the world wove new threads into our cultural fabric with rich traditions and indomitable faith, and their descendants pioneered incredible advances in science and the arts,” Obama said Tuesday in declaring May as Jewish American Heritage Month. “Teachings from the Torah lit the way toward a more perfect Union, from women’s rights to workers’ rights to the end of segregation.”
Among other Jewish American contributions, Obama listed “scientists and teachers, public servants and private citizens, wise leaders and loving parents.”
He said Americans could see Jewish “accomplishments in every neighborhood, and we see them abroad in our unbreakable bond with Israel that Jewish Americans helped forge.”
Congress legislated Jewish American Heritage Month in 2006 and Obama was the first president, in 2010, to mark it with a celebration.
This year there will be no White House fete because of budget cuts.
Image via tlvhotspot
Perfectly situated on the Mediterranean coastline, this Middle Eastern urban playground quickly became my new favorite international city.
Brimming with an extremely attractive and young international population, nightlife that rivals Manhattan, a brilliant and burgeoning fashion scene, an incredibly relaxed vibe and a great variety of outstanding restaurants, Tel Aviv is my kind of city, and I think it may be yours, too.
To characterize Tel Aviv in a word, it’s laid-back; so much so, you may get the impression that there aren’t any actual rules by which to conduct your behavior. Perhaps it’s the sense of “carpe diem” that comes with the territory, the prolific, frenetic energy or the feeling of complete freedom. Wherever itcomes from, this hedonistic, sexy city is primed for all kinds of travelers, beach bums and party animals. Tel Aviv is for the young and the young at heart.
A mix of grunge and luxury, Tel Aviv is the essence of a cool, 21st century city. It’s not a “beautiful” city per se, but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in just about everything else. While there are plenty of typical or classic sites to see in Tel Aviv, the following suggestions are my top picks.
Check out the full story from Forbes!
Check out this video via YouTube .
At dawn on Tuesday morning, a large group gathered on a mountain in the Negev desert to reenact the moments leading up to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.
Dressed in robes and flowing dresses, these pilgrims prayed, sang spirituals and discarded the leftovers from their seder meals into the flames of a massive bonfire, in a scene that evoked comparisons to the film “The Ten Commandments.”
“It’s one thing to see Charlton Heston in a movie,” said Ahbir Ben Israel, who stoked the fire with kerosene. “But we know that the Exodus is not just a story, it’s our history.”
The burning of excess food from the seder meal is just one of the ways that the African Hebrew Israelites, also known as the Black Hebrews, try to “take that ancient reality and make it contemporary,” Ben Israel said. They also remain in their houses from midnight until daybreak – when the Angel of Death is believed to have passed over the Israelites’ houses – and, according to God’s instructions, sleep in their clothing in order to be able to flee at any moment.
“It reflects how serious we are about getting closer and closer to the Creator,” he said.
For a time, the Hebrews even slaughtered a lamb and smeared its blood on their doorposts, just as the Israelites did so that their first-born sons would be spared from death. They discontinued the practice after arriving in Israel in 1969 and adopting a vegan diet.
As African Americans who identify with the tribe of Judah and whose ancestors, they believe, endured two periods of enslavement – one in Egypt and in the United States – the Passover tale has special resonance for the Hebrews.
“Historically, we’re always inspired by the story of the people being led out of Egypt, and the many trials and tribulations that were experienced on that journey,” said Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda, a community spokesman. “We always felt like we were living it.”
He said he personally looks forward to the burning ceremony on the mountain because it allows him “to get rid of some of those characteristics, like doubt and fear, that you don’t want to carry into the next year.”
During this week of Passover, which they call the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Hebrews eat tortilla-like homemade matza and “fast” from Western music and movies. The Hebrews actually celebrate two Passovers; They commemorate their exodus from the United States, which they view as a modern-day Babylon, every May during a two-day festival known as New World Passover.
Their literal interpretation of the Torah extends beyond their observance of Passover to nearly every facet of their culture.
For example, they cite Genesis 1:29 as the reason for adopting a vegan diet: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” They point to Methuselah, who according to the same book of the Bible lived to the ripe old age of 969, as inspiration in their quest to achieve immortality.
Earlier this month, they celebrated Rosh Hashanah based on their interpretation of a verse in Exodus that identifies the first day of the Hebrew month of Nisan (called Aviv in the Torah) as the “beginning of months,” not Tishrei, which is when most Jews mark the new year. (Like Karaite Jews, the Hebrews reject the Oral Law – the Mishna and the Talmud.)
Karaliah Eshet Prince Gavriel Ha’Gadol left Chicago in 1967 with the founding members of the community, which now numbers about 2,500. She spent two and a half years in the jungles of Liberia before moving to Israel and said her favorite part of celebrating Passover is being with her family in a land where she feels “free to worship Yah” – the preferred Hebrew term for God in the community – “with nobody dictating to you how and when to do so.”
For Elkannon Ben Shaleakh, who was also part of the vanguard group, the significance of Passover is the opportunity it provides “to start over again.”
The walls of the bungalow he shares with his wife and several other families in the community’s compound in Dimona, called the Village of Peace, are decorated with photos of civil rights leaders, including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as several portraits of Ben Ammi Ben Israel, the spiritual leader of the community, whom he called “a Moses-type figure.”
At his seder on Monday evening, there was no gefilte fish, brisket or matza ball soup. Instead, Ben Shaleahk and his family feasted on eggplant parmesan (with soy cheese), stuffing with gravy, kale greens, salad and soy ice cream for dessert.
He explained that the bitter herb that is traditionally eaten during the Passover seder represents “the 400 years of slavery and poverty in America.” The sweet charoset, meanwhile, represents the Hebrews’ joy of living as a free people in their homeland.
While his journey has not been easy – one of his children died in Liberia after falling into a well, and another son, Aharon, was killed by a Palestinian gunman while performing at a Bat Mitzvah in Hadera in 2002 – he said he and the rest of the Hebrews have sustained themselves through their adherence to the Bible.
“We were caught up in the Book, and we were trying to live it out,” Ben Yehuda said. “We’re still doing that.”