The holiday of Shavuot commemorates the day when the Jewish people stood before God and accepted the Torah and more, all that it represented. It is a personal favorite of mine for so many customs, for the ease of the day, for it being only one day in Israel. One thing we do – we eat dairy products rather than the heavier meat meals that are so traditional on other holidays.
Shavuot is about the moment we became a people. There we stood at Mt. Sinai, and there, for all eternity, we were changed. Jews possess a collective sense of each other that I do not find in other nations, religions, people. We identify with each other automatically based on this one bond. A Jew from Israel will fly across the world, and we have so many times, to help save the life (or even just find the body) of a Jew.
We go to help so many others, but as we do, there is a quiet unit that works quickly to find the local community of Jews and make sure they are okay, that they have what they need. It was this was in Indonesia – when Israelis worked to find the body of a Jew from England known to have died in the tsunami there. It was that way in Turkey when we went to dig through the rubble of a horrible earthquake. And one unit went to where it knew there were Israelis and dug until our soldiers pulled the bodies of several, and a young Israeli girl who was still alive. All that we do, springs from this holiday – Shavuot.
I went all out food-wise – salmon and fried fish, blintzes, quiches, dairy lasagna, cheese cake. Part of the fun of it all is tasting before the holiday starts. It’s a game – try to save it for the holiday; try to taste it before.
The finished dishes came out of the oven to cool on the table as the oven was refilled. Elie grabbed a huge serving spoon and called out, “It’s an Elie spoon” and went lunging for the lasagna. Shmulik lives in the apartment below our house and is now married and so apparently more dignified. He came upstairs and asked if he could take some food, watching on the side as Elie and Aliza were wrestling for the last spoon of the noodle salad I had already put away (I left a few extra spoons in the bowl and thus Elie’s shout of “the last spoon” was heard as I loaded a platter for the new couple. When I got to the onion quiche, one of Elie’s favorites, Elie called out, “mine, mine.”
And then Aliza got into it. She quietly took a spoon and went to taste. Elie grabbed her arm from behind and the two of them went giggling around. “The last spoon,” Elie cried out again.
“The last spoon,” Aliza answered in challenge. Shmulik smiled – he got more than both as he walked out of the house in triumph.
It was a great holiday – quiet, peaceful, the best.