What Is Shavuot And Why We Should Care To Know


 “If you do not know where you are coming from, how would you know where to go?” 




Those of us who live in San Francisco and by an extension in the Bay Area as well as other big cities, have the privilege to live among different people from different countries with various practices and different religious backgrounds and beliefs. Through living, studying, working together, speaking the same language, and intermarrying, we supposedly grow closer to each other; but do we really know our neighbors?

One of the dividing factors between people throughout history has been religion. The month of June is not only the first month of summer, but it is also the time when three major monotheist religions have their own distinct holidays–Shavuot in Judaism, Pentecostal Sunday for Christians, andRamadan for the Muslims. I decided to write about the one factor that is a common thread for all three of these holidays.

It is food and in particular—it is cheesecake.


Shavuot is a major Jewish festival, which is celebrated this year on June 4thand 5th (since the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle, the date changes every year). Originally, it was considered a harvest festival when Jews would come to Jerusalem to visit the Temple and bring the product of their first harvest as an expression of gratitude. But it also commemorates the giving of the Law—the Torah on Mount Zion. This happened fifty days after the second day of Passover or exodus from slavery in Egypt.

All of these events are very important, but why according to the tradition on Shavuot do Jews have to eat a cheesecake? Actually—not only a cheesecake, but any dairy products. The obvious answer could be that a celebration needs to have some kind of dessert. But actually, there are other explanations, which have to do with the rules of Kashrut, or the separation of dairy and meat products in the same meal.


I think that there can be at least one more explanation. During the Exodus and at the Passover table, we are obligated to eat meat—the Paschal lamb. This is the food that gives us energy for the long and arduous journey. After we got to Mt. Zion and received the Ten Commandments, we can relax, and enjoy ourselves. Not only to have cake (the Commandments), but also to share with friends or family members during the festive meal.

Today we all can enjoy many dairy products: yogurt, ice creams, and variety of cheeses. Shavuot is not a holiday for those who want to lose weight. In my attempt to bring you images of dairy products, I visited a farmer’s market on the Embarcadero. There, I also found a long line of people waiting to buy a scoop of Over the Moon creamery’s ice cream.  I also visited a good cheese shop



Cheesecakes are sold everywhere, but nothing comes close to Zanze’s—a tiny shop and bakery located on 2405 Ocean Ave in San Francisco. Their cheesecakes are the best. To help you get the best, I decided to create a special offer—“June Cheesecake Special”. For anyone who wants to help their friends get a great mortgage and refer our services, I will personally deliver a freshly baked cheesecake from Zanze’s to your doorstep.

Enjoy the holiday, the rest of your life, and yes—a cheesecake.

Happy Shavuot!
(click flyer for details)junespecial