Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shavuot, Cheesecake and Blintze Holiday

I'm trying to figure out how to explain Shavuot to my father.  Moving in with us last fall was almost like being kidnapped to Mars for him.  Even as a child, his family wasn't fully religious, Torah observant.  His grandparents were.  Actually, until a few years ago when my uncle, my father's older brother, told me some stories of what he did with his grandparents, I had no idea that they had immigrated to New York from Europe.  I had been under the impression that they, like my mother's grandparents, had all died in Europe.

My father and his family went to nearby grandparents for some Jewish Holidays and sometimes Shabbat meals.  He has a strong memory for foods, flavors, sweetness etc.  Once when I gave him a baked apple, he said:

"My mother used to make baked apples.  Hers were larger and much sweeter."
Yes, I admit that I don't add sugar.

Considering my father's state, he may not quite get the explanation of Shavuot as the Holiday celebrating G-d's giving us the Torah.  The Torah never meant all that much to him.  Being a Jew was something he has always been proud of, but religious observant is less important.  When my father was in the United States Navy during World War Two, he was among the few Jews to admit to his religion.  That's why he was called "The Jew."

The chances are that he'll remember that there was a holiday in the spring/summer when they ate cheesecake and blintzes.  Maybe that will bring back some memories.


Keli Ata said...

G-d bless your dad:)

Perhaps you could just explain that we eat sweet stuff on Shavuot because Hashem is sweet, Torah is sweet, and he is now in the land of milk and honey.

Baked apples---delicious with and without sugar IMO. Even better with added cranberries.

Batya said...

I'm trying to draw on memories for connections, but Shavuot doesn't seem to be in his memory bank, even with the cheesecake.

yoni said...

shavuot isn't really on the radar of american jews, even some traditional ones. it occured to me yesterday that i had forgotten to mention to my own dad, in our weekly telephone conversation, that shavuot was coming up. thus, even though he has been jewishly "aware", in an american sense, celebrating pesach, yom kippur, rosh hashanna, succot and even hannuka, i'm pretty sure he didn't know it was shavuot. i'ts an american thing- if you don't belong to a synygogue that sends out reminders, shavuot is just off the map. i hypothesize maybe it's because of the agricultural origins, having to do specifically with the land of israel, that makes it less important for diaspora jews. but it is sad- your dad is lucky to be introduced in any way to a traditional israeli shavuot. kol ha kavod to both of you.

Batya said...

thanks, yoni
My sil had to teach in a Jewish Day School on the eve of the holiday, and also in the Reform Hebrew school she works in.
And the university where my neice is graduating had graduation on yomtov. This is a school which has made a great effort to attract frum kids. America!