During the seven weeks of the counting of the Omer to Shavuot, Temple Sholom’s religious school students bring donations of cereal for the Jewish Food Bank. (photo from Sara Ciacci)
For a number of years, during the seven weeks of the counting of the Omer to Shavuot, Temple Sholom’s religious school students have brought donations of cereal for the Jewish Food Bank. The young students are proud and excited to share with those in need and their parents and teachers help instil in them the meaning of tzedakah.
Although everyone agrees that the food of choice for Shavuot is cheese, and especially cheesecake, there are differences of opinion (some quite charming) as to why it is a custom. One explanation is that, at Sinai, the Israelites were considered to be as innocent as newborns, whose food is milk. Others connect the practice directly to scripture, saying we eat dairy to symbolize the “land flowing with milk and honey” promised to the Israelites.
Today, for more than 400 Jewish members of the Metro Vancouver community, Shavuot is not a day spent recalling a land flowing with milk and honey. Rather, Shavuot is a day like any other. A day when their below-the-poverty-line means do not allow them to celebrate with even a few of the traditional food items. Having been a recipient of help myself from the Jewish community as a child during the Depression years has influenced my lifelong understanding of how much of a difference it makes to the well-being of an individual to be able to mark the Jewish holidays, and to not worry for at least one day how they will sustain themselves (and their family).
Religious school is out for the summer and Shavuot has passed. However, the need to share with those less fortunate does not take a holiday. Your sharing and caring is needed throughout the year. Food donations can be dropped off at Temple Sholom, other synagogues and the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. Donations earmarked for the Jewish Food Bank can be mailed to Temple Sholom at 7190 Oak St., Vancouver, B.C., V6P 3Z9.
Sara Ciacci is past president and longtime member of Temple Sholom Sisterhood board. She has been involved with the Jewish Food Bank since its inception and is the recipient of the Jewish Family Service Agency’s 2015 Paula Lenga Award.