In The Land of Milk and Honey

Sunday night began the two-day Jewish holiday of Shavuot, the time when the Jews commemorate their being given the Torah, and customarily eat dairy foods. As a food blog, I wanted to spend a little time on why it is that only dairy foods are consumed on this special and very meaningful holiday.

If you know the basics of the Jewish kosher laws (as they pertain to food), you know that you can not mix dairy and meat in the same meal. But what you might not know is that not all meat (aside from the more obvious: pork) is considered kosher. In order for beef or other kosher meats to even be considered kosher, it has to be slaughtered in a special manner that the Torah designates. To ensure this process is being upheld, all kosher meat is supervised by a certified rabbi from the moment of slaughter to the final stages of packaging.

Now why am I talking about meat when I am supposed to be talking about dairy?

Explanation and recipes after the jump!

Well, one of the basic reasons why dairy is eaten on Shavuot is because this day was the first time Jews had to follow these kosher laws in regards to meat. Being given the Torah for the first time, their houses and households were not yet prepared to serve meat according to Kosher law. Therefore, since dairy requires no special preparation according to the Torah, they were now allowed to eat dairy and served dairy that night instead. Even though Jews these days have access to kosher meat before the holiday, they continue to eat diary on Shavuot to commemorate and relive this special day.

Before the Jews received the Torah, they were brought to Mt. Sinai in Israel – what the Torah calls: “the land of milk and honey”. This is important to note as for the first time these two forms of nourishment were available both physically and symbolically. So why not take advantage with a dairy celebration?

I’ve put together a list of some dairy recipes to help commemorate Shavuot (or to just enjoy because they’re good anyway).

Appetizers
Creamy Spinach Dip
Mozzarella Skewers
Tuna Devil Eggs

Main Courses
Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

Golden Brown Macaroni and Cheese

Vegetable Lasagna

Sides
Noodle Kugel

Sour Milk Biscuits

Easy Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Desserts
Petit Cheesecakes

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake

For another great menu, check out Leah from Jew and the Carrot’s “What To Cook For Shavuot“.

Sources: Aish.com, Torah.org

Notes:

1. By no means do I consider myself a position of authority in Jewish explanation. I tried to keep my reasoning consistent with knowledge from my growing up and extensive research from reputable sites.

2. The picture above is simply an abstraction, not part of a recipe noted here.

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  • http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/blog Rebecca (Foodie with Family)

    Those all sound so good. The mozzarella skewers and cream cheese pound cake sound exceptionally delicious!

    I have a question regarding Kosher food laws. Is all dairy o.k.? For instance, is goat’s milk acceptable? I’m curious.

    From my meagre understanding of Kosher law and my solid understanding of food safety I’m fascinated by how many of the Kosher food laws are actually really important when you remove refrigeration and food preservation from the picture.

    Thanks for the information. I’m eager to learn more.

  • http://www.recipe4living.com Hillary

    Great question! Goat’s milk can be considered kosher since goat can be kosher, but please note that for anything to actually be kosher, it has to be certified by rabbis who supervised to make sure kosher processes were upheld. I sent you more information in an email, but hopefully this answer will help others!

    And again, I’m not an expert on the matter, just wanted to pass along some information.

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