This is not the Shavuot I love

Shavuot is my favorite  Holiday for many reasons.

I believe that this is a special Holiday as it clearly marks the Jewish nation as the one designated to live in a specific way – to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1). This is no small task, the responsibility both brings you up and holds you down with the sheer weight of it.

I love love, love dairy – both cooking and eating. What can be better than really thin blintzes stuffed or not with – take your pick – red caviar, sour cream, cottage cheese, jam, raisins coated with maple syrup, etc… And what fun it is to watch happy faces around the table eating all this deliciousness. Adults are not much different from the children – everyone is happy!

I love late spring –  early summer. Maybe because this is when I was born. My Hebrew birthday falls on the 8th of Sivan, the day right after Shavuot. It reminds me of peonies, peonythe only flowers that came forward at the time of my birthday in the Ural city of Sverdlovsk, where I was born and spent first 15 years of my life.

Even though I think, roses are my favorite, peonies will always hold a special place in my heart.

Well, this year’s Shavuot that falls on June 12-13, will be different for my family.

Of course, I will at least try, to make the cheesecake and the blintzes, and some salads with feta or halloumi, but this time, it is going to be different.

According to Shulchan Aruch, any Jewish Holiday stops the mourning period of shloshim (30 days). So, on Shavuot, we will technically stop mourning for my father, z’l, Shimon ben Nachum.

I will, of course, keep the mourning period for a year – no movies, no parties, no music. I am not a big party person anyway, and I mostly listen to kind-of sad music. But does that mean I stop thinking about a man who held me on his knees? Sang to me and my girls? The strongest and kindest man I knew? And – does a child ever stop mourning for their parent? I don’t dare ask these questions of the girls of our family who all lost one of their parents at a very young age. How would I think about my father in years to come? What details of my childhood will I remember? Would I be able to pass his love along to the future girl world of our family?

This Shavuot also marks 20 years since my sister is no longer with us. When I am feeding blintzes to her granddaughters, what will I think about? Her striking likeness in character to her oldest granddaughter she never got to see? The loving family her oldest daughter was able to build? The beautiful smiles of the youngest ballerina? Or the everyday pain our girl world is going through without her?

As my mother, the real backbone of our girl world says “life must go on”. So, here’s to the sweet challah bread I made for the Holiday, here’s to life, to all our girls, to my dad.



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