The Sephardic Community of Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Why Dairy on Shavuot?

On Shavuot, we eat dairy for the festival meals or at least for most of them.  Jewish lore offers several origins for the dairy tradition: Moses was drawn out of the water on the day which later became known as Shavuot.  He was willing to be nursed only by a Hebrew women.  On his merit, that of choosing a Jewish mother’s milk, we eat dairy.  Another, less fanciful reason is that until the Jews received the Torah they were not bound by the laws of kashrut.  Upon receiving the Torah. All of their pots, pans and dishes were rendered treif (unkosher).  So they ate dairy until they could kasher their utensils.  Another explanation drew out of allusion to the verse in Song of Songs that “knowledge of the Torah is like milk and honey under the togue.” 

Foods like cheese blintzes, burekas and cheesecake are served. The symbol of burekas, a three sided pastry filled with cheese, is that God gave the Torah in three parts (the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings) to three categories of people (Kohen, Levite and Israelite) through a third born child (Moses, whose older siblings were Aaron and Miriam) in the third month of the year (1. Nissan, 2. Iyar, 3. Sivan).


This is a real quick but tasty burekas recipe.  Fun to do with the kids on a Sunday morning.  They are also good prepared ahead of time and heated up a little on the hot plate – perfect for Shavuos morning.

1 package puff pastry (we prefer Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets which are OU Parve)

1/2 cup Cottage Cheese

1/2 cup Sour Cream

½ teaspoon Salt

1 Egg

½ cup Sesame Seeds

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place parchment paper on two baking sheets.  Open each package of the puff pastry and unfold the dough.  Cut vertically at the fold line to create three pieces.  Cut each piece into three large squares.  Mix together the sour cream, cottage cheese and the salt.  Spoon a teaspoon of the cheese mixture onto each square of dough and close into a triangle, sealing the dough together with your fingers.  Lay on the baking sheets.  Scramble one egg in a bowl.  Brush the egg onto the top of each burekas and top with some sesame seeds.  Transfer to the oven and cook until golden brown and smells amazing, about 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!


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