Shavuot, the Feast of the Weeks, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest season in Israel. Shavuot, which means “weeks”, refers to the timing of the festival which is held exactly 7 weeks after Passover.Shavuot also commemorates the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The Book of Ruth is read during Shavuot. Ruth was the model of Torah acceptance and without her Jewish history could not continue.

She was a former princess, left widowed with her mother-in-law, destined to abandon her royal past to join the Nation of G-D and become the mother of Kingship…RUTH!

The Book of Ruth

Ruth was the Moabite wife of Machlon, one of the sons of Elimelech and Naomi, a wealthy couple who had fled Bethlehem during a bitter famine and settled in Moab, a neighboring country with which Israel had a history of conflict.

When Elimelech and his two sons died, Naomi chose to return to her homeland. Her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, decided to go with her. When they reached Israel, however, Naomi urged them to go back to their fathers’ homes. Orpah did leave. Ruth refused, declaring: “Where you [Naomi] go, I shall go, your people will be my people, your land will be my land, and your God will be my God.”

Upon their return to Bethlehem, Ruth and Naomi lived a lonely and impoverished life. People resented that Naomi’s family had fled the famine, and they did not trust her Moabite daughter-in-law. To keep from starving, Ruth gathered excess barley that fell during the harvest in the field of Boaz, a relative of Elimelech. Boaz noticed Ruth’s unique qualities of modesty, loyalty and humility and encouraged her to continue gleaning in his field until the end of the harvest.

In the meantime, the elders of Bethlehem debated whether Ruth was a true convert and whether she could marry a Jewish man. Naomi, however, knew that Ruth was devout and sincere. She directed Ruth to go to the ceremony at the close of the threshing and seek out Boaz, who had been so kind to them. She told Ruth to present herself to him as a potential mate and assured Ruth that Boaz would take care of her.

That night, Ruth demurely waited at Boaz’s feet, signaling her intentions. Boaz, who was much older, an established landowner and a leader in the community, had not thought of himself as a possible suitor until that night.

Boaz and Ruth married and their son, Oved, was the grandfather of King David.

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Ruth and Naomi
Ethiopian Embroidery

On Shavuot, it is customary to eat dairy dairy food. Some say it harks back to King Solomon’s portrayal of the Torah as “honey and milk are under your tongue”

 Lindy’s New York Cheese Cake (my favorite recipe!)

nycheesecake1Ingredients:

1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup butter, softened
5 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon peel and vanilla. Make well in center; add egg yolk and butter. Mix with fingertips until dough cleans side of bowl. Form into a ball and wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan. Remove the side from the pan. Roll one third of dough on bottom of springform pan; trim edge of dough. Bake 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, divide dough into 3 parts. Roll each part into a 2 1/2″ strip, 10″ long. Put together springform pan, with the baked crust on the bottom. Fit dough strips to side of pan, joining ends to line inside completely. Trim dough so it comes only 3/4 of the way up side of pan. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Make Filling: In a large bowl of electric mixer, combine cheese, sugar, flour, lemon and orange peel, and vanilla. Beat at high speed, just to blend. Beat in eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Add cream, beating just until well combined. Pour mixture into springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 250 degrees F. and bake 1 hour longer.

Let cheesecake cool on wire rack. Glaze top with strawberries. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. To serve, loosen pastry from side of pan with spatula. Remove side of springform pan. Cut cheesecake into wedges.

 

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