Celebrating Shavuot in Israel

Labaneh

In Israel, at Shavuot time the children come to school dressed in white clothes. The little ones wear crowns of flowers and leaves. We decorate baskets with flowers and leaves and put in fruit as a symbol of the firstfruits that were brought to the Temple. We also fill the baskets with dairy foods like yogurt and cheese (sometimes homemade). At home, we eat meals that include dairy. On the kibbutzim, they celebrate Shavuot as an agricultural feast; they sing and dance and bring forth first fruits of the livestock and the harvest.

Typically, a homemade yogurt cheese such as this one is enjoyed:

LABANEH

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stir all ingredients together in large bowl. Put several layers of cheesecloth in a large colander or strainer. Place the cheese mixture on the cheesecloth and put the strainer over a larger bowl, so that it rests over it. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove yogurt cheese and place it in a clean bowl. You may stir in chopped olives, green onions, chopped dried tomatoes, a little olive oil—or you may leave the cheese as is. Serve spread on crackers or bread or as a dip with fresh vegetables or fruit.