Last week Noah had 3 days off of school for Shavuot, a harvest festival and celebration of when the Jews received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. One of the traditions associated with Shavuot is eating dairy foods. Cheesecake and cheese bourekas proliferate here this time of year and all of the commercials for milk & cheese start taking on a Shavuot theme, which was excellent. After a lifetime of having Christmas shoved down our throats, it was a simple pleasure to see the commercialization of Shavuot. Other traditions include reading the book of Ruth (takes place during the harvest) and having an all-night Torah study session.

A uniquely Israeli way to celebrate Shavuot is to spend time on a moshav or kibbutz where the idea of the harvest is still central to everyday life. Fortunately, we were able to do this and experience Shavuot like we would never be able to do in America.

We started our Shavuot celebration with a tekes (ceremony) in Noah’s class.

The children sang and danced,

wore flower crowns,

and used many props to celebrate the harvest festival.


The tekes also was a celebration of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), which was the prior week.

Two days later, we continued our celebration with a long-awaited bread workshop at our friends’ Anat & Menachem’s place. As you may know, Roy is a baker, and Anat & Menachem had requested a tutorial after a couple of meals together that included Roy’s bread (more precisely Jim Lahey’s bread as popularized by Mark Bittman). They live on Moshav HaBonim, near our favorite beach.

In the spirit of harvesting the wheat, we baked the bread.

Feeding the cows on the moshav. Thanks for all of the dairy!

Menachem is an architect/industrial designer and he was working with another moshav helping them design & build a new dairy. They told him that Moshav HaBonim cows have a reputation for having the best quality milk. Something about the quality of the hay that the moshav grows is extra-special because of its location at the junction between the sea and the mountains. It was an honor to meet those special cows!

Roy planned the workshop like a cooking show. One batch of dough ready to go in the oven to have with our dinner and then another batch that got mixed up there. We stayed overnight and the next batch went in in the morning.

Boker tov! In the front yard, the beach in the background.

We went to the beach in the morning, but just stayed until lunch because we had to get to our next Shavuot celebration. This one was on Moshav Kfar Yehoshua in the Jezreel Valley. We were invited to join Sarah’s friend Galia & her family at their moshav’s big tekes.

We rode from Galia's house out to the fields on the back of a tractor

and joined a parade of tractors on their way to the tekes.

We sat up on the top of the hill looking down on the fields where the events took place.

There were performances by the children of the moshav,

horse choreography,

a parade of all of the babies born in the past year,

and all kinds of farming related competitions & demonstrations, like hay bale races, tug-of-war, a parade/choreography of tractors, and the very near fly-over of a crop duster.

Afterwards, we went to dinner with Galia’s family – pizza, of course. The more dairy, the better!