Jews for Cheeses: Dairy on Shavuot

ice cream sundae watercolor
On May 19 and 20 we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot (one day in Israel). Why do Jews eat dairy on Shavuot? For standard answers see seven reasons behind this popular custom.

However, customs vary. For example, a friend writes that her Hungarian grandfather ate the blintzes her grandmother made then they waited a bit and had a meat meal. That’s basically how one brother-in-law handles the holiday. My vegan friends are eating neither dairy nor meat. For myself, I will limit the amount of dairy I eat, as my body just doesn’t do well with dairy (I am lactose-intolerant and beyond).

On Facebook, I asked: “Looking for funny, historical, hysterical or creative reasons why Jews eat dairy on Shavuot.” Some of the responses:

  • You’re milking this for all it’s worth. We’d butter not fool around. (She also came up with the title of this post).
  • A naturalist answer: It’s approximately the time when goats wean their kids and the mothers have additional milk that’s not being used otherwise.
  • Because you may go to a shiur where real ice cream is served. There ought to be one Jewish holiday in honor of cheesecake.
  • From a vegetarian: You meat-eaters get ALL the holidays. It’s OUR TURN, people. 🙂
  • What kind of world would it be if we didn’t have license to eat cheesecake guilt-free at least once a year?!

I’ll conclude with a joke:

Upon Mt. Sinai, Moses is receiving the Torah.

God proclaims through the burning bush “THOU SHALT NOT SEETHE THE KID IN ITS MOTHER’S MILK.”

Moses is a bit confused. “What does that mean, Lord? We should not cook meat in milk?”


Moses responds “But what do you mean, Lord? We should never serve meat and dairy in the same meal?”


Moses continues “Do you mean that we should have two completely separate sets of ovens and cookware? One for meat and one for milk?”

Finally God agrees, “OK, Moses, have it your way.”

One more joke:

Elijah the Prophet resurfaces on Planet Earth in New York City right before Chanukah. He gets very excited when he sees Chanukah decorations, Chanukah parties and Chanukah cards and hears Chanukah music. He declares: if this is what Jews do for Chanukah, I can only imagine what they do for Shavuot!

Kosher Cookers: submit those food-related posts ASAP! Kosher Carnival deadline is this Thursday.

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