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May 25 2012

Shavuot is Coming, See You Tuesday

By at 4:24 pm

delicious cheesecake

Maybe you haven’t been paying attention to all of the blintzes and cheesecake and ice cream recipes we’ve thrown your way, but Shavuot begins at sundown this Saturday, May 26 and lasts through sundown on Monday, May 28.

Yes, this means you’ll be going Kveller-less on Monday since our office will be closed, but chances are you won’t even miss us, being that it’s also Memorial Day weekend. So whether you’ll be pigging out on dairy and staying up all night in celebration of Shavuot or enjoying the (hopefully) nice weather with a family barbecue, we hope you all have a fabulous long weekend.

We’ll see you bright and early on Tuesday. Chag sameach!

May 24 2012

T is for Torah… and Tea Party?

By at 9:33 am

shavuot tea partyShavuot may not be the most popular Jewish holiday on the block, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate and make it fun for young kids. The gist of this holiday is all about the Torah—it commemorates when the Jewish people received it on Mount Sinai. It’s also customary to eat dairy on Shavuot (though reasons are not entirely clear, learn more about it here.)

Now bear with me, because this might be a stretch, but since “T” is for Torah, and also for tea, why not have a tea party to celebrate Shavuot? Get the family together, invite some friends over, and serve up some of your favorite dairy dishes. If you need some inspiration, here are my recipe and decoration ideas. Have fun! Read the rest of this entry →

May 22 2012

Make Your Own Ice Cream (Without a Machine!) for Shavuot

By at 12:58 pm
making ice cream in ziploc bag

The supplies.

Shavuot is coming up, so who wants to make some messy, homemade ice cream? I do. It’s the one time a year my family makes ice cream, so right there it’s a highlight of the Jewish calendar. “The Giving of the Torah,”of course, is at the core of Shavuot, but “The Making of the Ice Cream” is a bit more memorable if you are 5.

Don’t have a proper ice cream maker? The kids can make it with Ziploc bags. Even if you do have a machine, the low-tech baggie way is a good, gloppy group activity. Read the rest of this entry →

May 21 2012

Mt. Sinai Muffins, Origami 10 Commandments & More Shavuot Crafts

By at 12:12 pm

The focus around Shavuot is often on the dairy products: cheesecake, blintzes, and kugel. But it’s fun to change it up with a few springtime crafts. We’ve found some of our favorites to share with you (and check out our Pinterest board for a few more ideas, too).

One of our more popular crafts here on Kveller are these Mount Sinai muffins–an edible craft. They’re simple to make, super-fun to decorate with kids, and a great way to start a conversation about the holiday (for more on that, click here). And did we mention that they taste good, too?

Read the rest of this entry →

May 18 2012

Cheesecake, Blintzes, and More Dairy Recipes for Shavuot

By at 3:24 pm

Are you ready for Shavuot? This dairy-filled holiday is a celebration of receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai, and is traditionally celebrated by eating dairy foods and staying up all night learning. (Or, if you’re a new parent, staying up all night with the baby!) You can get all of the details on the how, why, and what of Shavuot here.

But if your favorite part of Shavuot is the dairy deliciousness, you’re in luck. We’ve scoured the internet for some amazing dairy goodness and are excited to share the results below, and on our Pinterest board too. Enjoy!

A basic cheesecake is a classic way to go for Shavuot. But if you’re bored with the old standby recipe, try these variations on for size. Looks delish!

Read the rest of this entry →

May 17 2012

Giveaway: Lactose-Free Products for Shavuot

By at 1:19 pm

green valley organice lactose-free productsShavuot is coming up in a little over a week, and with this holiday comes all things dairy. There is a custom of eating dairy foods–especially cheesecake and blintzes–on Shavuot, which is a great excuse to dig into some delicious treats. But as Logan Ritchie just shared with us in her piece on food allergies, a large number of children cannot enjoy these dairy products.

But families dealing with lactose intolerance, have no fear! Green Valley Organics offers a wide array of lactose-free products, and they’ve offered to give away their entire line of lactose free sour cream, yogurts, and kefirs to one lucky Kveller reader. Oh, and a “Love & Dairy” t-shirt. Sweet!

To enter, click here to sign up for our semi-weekly e-letter and then drop us a note in the comments below. If you’re already signed up, then just leave a comment, and you’re all set! We’ll choose a winner on Monday, May 21, so enter today!

And for those of you looking to whip up some lactose-free holiday dishes, be sure to check out Green Organic’s recipes on their site.

May 15 2012

Waiting , Waiting, Waiting for My Baby

By at 9:43 am

hour glassI’ve always felt a special kind of connection to the time of year between Passover and Shavuot, a Jewish period known as the Omer. (For Mayim Bialik’s Omer explanation, click here.) Here’s why. On Passover, the Jewish people go from being slaves to being free. Now, imagine that freedom. Your whole life, all you’ve ever known is following someone else’s arbitrary rules. And suddenly–no rules. No nothing, for that matter. The freedom must have been intense…and frightening.

But then, 49 days later, after wandering the desert, God gives the Jewish people the Torah, and with it, rules. In some way, those rules must have been a huge sigh of relief. No more crazy anarchy (golden calf, anyone?), no more feeling confused about how to build a society–God gave us everything we needed in the Torah. It’s nice to have a sense of structure to your life. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 3 2011

Friday Night: Blintzes

By at 11:20 am

Blintzes are my favorite dairy product for celebrating Shavuot.

So there’s this holiday coming up next week called Shavuot (it’s on Wednesday, June 8). We never really covered this one when I was in Hebrew school–probably because Hebrew school often ended before Shavuot happened–so my understanding of it has always been hazy. Basically we’re celebrating getting the Torah on Mount Sinai. And for some strange reason, we eat dairy products. Deee-lish.

When I was little, my grandmother taught me how to make blintzes. Now, when I say “taught” I mean explained, because my grandmother had such bad rheumatoid arthritis by the time I was 10 that she was wheelchair-bound, and her hands were incredibly bent and she couldn’t herself actually do any of the cooking. But I wanted to learn, and so she led me, step by step, through the process of making blintzes. (If you’ve never made blintzes–there are lots of steps. LOTS.) When I was 18, my grandmother died. Knowing how to make blintzes feels kind of like her legacy to me.

My mom still has my grandmother’s special blintz-making pans, and I have her hand-written recipe cards. When I was pregnant, all I wanted in the world was my grandmother’s blintzes, so my mom and I made them together. I froze them and ate one a day, thinking of my grandmother the whole time, and how someday I’ll teach my daughter how to make blintzes too. And though it wasn’t for Shavuot–they still tasted good.

If you’re craving some blintzes, here’s a great recipe for making your own. Shabbat Shalom, and chag Shavuot sameach–have a happy Shavuot!

For more on Shavuot, try these activities with your kids, including an edible craft, or make your own cheesecake or noodle kugel.

Jun 1 2011

Did God Get me Discounted Airline Tickets?

By at 3:22 pm

I am planning a trip to Colorado next week. I booked four tickets. I was very excited. Until I realized I booked those tickets for the second day of Shavuot, which is a religious holiday commemorating the receiving the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.Shavuot is also my favorite holiday of the year (with the profoundly heavy day of mourning Tisha B’Av a close second, but never mind that for now). The concept of the actual commemoration of the actual receiving of the actual Torah gets me all excited and energized about being Jewish.

Yep, not kidding. Love Shavuot. Vegan blintzes and cheesecake and studying all night? There’s not much better than that in my book these days.

So as someone who both values the “rules” about observing Shavuot, and as someone who values this holiday in particular, I just could not justify flying on this holiday. I had to change those tickets.

Instantly, my head started doing the calculations: Four tickets, four penalty fees of probably  $150 each… I almost fainted. I started feeling queasy. I almost rationalized it. Almost.

I emailed my friend, Allison, who is also my study partner and sort of Jewish go-to person for everything. She told me to “trust HaShem.” Not what I wanted to hear. What does trusting HaShem mean!? Does HaShem tell the airline customer service representative to waive the fee? Does HaShem guarantee me a place in the Next World for paying exorbitant penalty fees? Does HaShem look down and decide to make me not care about the possible penalty fee because it’s for something I value more than money?


I called the airline. I explained that I accidentally booked my flight on a religious holiday. She didn’t seem to care and she told me to “hold please” while she did the calculation to change the flight to the next day.

Click click click. Tick tick tick. Typety type type.

“You will receive a refund of $192, ma’am.”

I was stunned. The only thing I could think to say–as if English was my third language, because her sentence was not that complicated- was, “I don’t understand what that means. Can you make it really simple for me?”

Turns out the flight the following day was so much less expensive than the one I had originally booked that even after she applied the penalties, I saved money. I almost fainted. I felt queasy. I almost cried. We finished the transaction and I emailed Allison. She told me she was very proud of me for trusting. This time, that was what I wanted to hear.

The trusting for me was a deep sense of understanding that no matter how much the penalty fee was, I was willing to accept it. That doesn’t mean I am some sort of a martyr, it means I am someone who wants to stand by this conviction because it matters to me a lot. It means something to me. It means everything to me.

So that’s not about believing in some Deity that looks down and tells customer service people what to do on my behalf. It’s not about a Deity that looks down and switches airline fares because I “deserve” that for some abstract reason.

In fact, it’s not about some Deity “looking down” on me at all. It’s about feeling full of something from within me that helps me value things more than penalty fees. I draw strength and want to build a life of integrity and trust from that.

You can call that whatever you want. I call it profound. I call it amazing. I call it receiving.

Chag Shavuot Sameach!


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