There are a number of reasons cited for why we eat dairy on this special holiday—some find the origin in the Biblical verses that refer to the Land of Israel as a land “flowing with milk and honey.” A verse from Song of Songs (4:11) compares the Torah to honey and milk—the Torah provides our spiritual nourishment.
Some believe that when the Israelites received the Torah at Mt. Sinai (the historical event that Shavuot commemorates), they learned about the laws of kashrut (dietary laws) for the first time, and rather than consume the meat that had previously been prepared (not in line with the dietary laws), they ate only dairy foods after the experience at Sinai.
Another idea involves the practice of gematria (each Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent). The Hebrew word for milk, chalav, has a numerical value of 40. This number corresponds to the number of days Moses spent on Mt. Sinai receiving Torah.
Other common dairy foods that are on the Shavuot menu include blintzes, burekas, kreplach (dumplings) filled with cheese, etc.
Shavuot is the only major holiday that traditionally includes a dairy menu. Whatever the reason, Shavuot and cheesecake are often thought of together and for that, there is reason to celebrate! Below, we’ve listed our ECE Program Manager Rachel’s recipe for an easy, no-bake cheesecake that is sure to impress your family this Shavuot.
Debbie Goodman, Director of Jewish Life & Learning