Shavuot Cake: A Family Tradition

By Guest Post

Published May 02, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In my family, holiday food traditions are never about what you might think of as traditional holiday food. Yes, we have matzah on Passover and apples and honey or Rosh Hashanah, but the traditions go deeper than that. At our Passover seder, we must have potato kuglets, made each year by different members of the family. No matter what else on the menu changes, the kuglets are how we know it is Passover, and not another festive meal. Before the fast of Yom Kippur, our traditional family food is honey chicken and noodles. Nothing else will get us through the fast, and no one thinks to suggest anything else. And then there is the Ten Commandments Cake on Shavuot.

JCarrot

There is power in traditions surrounding food, and there are numerous educational moments in every tradition that are built around food. First, our food traditions, like any other family tradition, keep us together even when we can’t physically be together. I know that next year, when I am not with my family for Yom Kippur, honey chicken will be on both our menus. There is comfort knowing that although we will be apart, the food of our family will keep us connected.

Food traditions also provide opportunities for both Jewish and nutritional learning. There has been lots of research and numerous articles touting the benefits of having kids in the kitchen. Children who cook healthy food are more likely to try it, leading to a life of healthy eating. Children who learn to cook in a kosher kitchen or who are exposed to the rhythm of Jewish life through food get the kinesthetic sensation of the Jewish year before they are old enough to comprehend all of its rules and patterns.

In our house, one of our most central food traditions is the Shavout Ten Commandments Cake. Now this cake may not win points for nutrition, but in our family it is not Shavout without this cake. We make it, and then we bring it to our synagogue picnic and share it with all our friends. Each year, we discuss which strawberry on the cake stands for which commandment and it becomes a review of what we have just heard read aloud in synagogue.

Making this cake is simple. You make a box of chocolate cake mix in a 9×13 inch pan (you could also make your own chocolate cake, if you were so inclined, but it is important that it be chocolate). You then carve the cake into the shape of the two tablets and frost it with vanilla icing. It is important not to be too neat, since the idea is that the crumbs of the chocolate cake will mix with the vanilla icing, creating an effect that looks like stone. Right before you are ready to serve (the cake will get soggy otherwise), cut some strawberries into small pieces and use them to outline the edges of the cake, and to make a line between the two tablets. Finally take 10 whole or half strawberries, depending on the size, and place five on each tablet.

Bring it to your local Shavout picnic and share it with friends. It will be a hit, even if there are no kids around to appreciate your new tradition.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.