Cheesecake for Shavuot
To celebrate Shavuot, a spring harvest festival, children in Israel make cheesecake using flour they have ground from wheat they have grown in their school garden, fresh goat cheese from the friendly petting zoo goats, and fresh strawberries from the garden.
|Interest Level||Preschool - Grade 2|
|Reading Level||Grade 3|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®|
|Number of Pages||32|
Jewish Book World
“Cheesecake for Shavuot is a magnificent picture book with a thoughtful ratio between the text and the photographs, with pages that vary in background color and with photographs that vary in size, giving the book an interesting and original look. The endearing story follows a group of children, led by an imaginative and inspiring teacher, as they prepare over the course of a year for the holiday of Shavuot in a hands-on manner. They plant wheat in the fall and watch it grow. When the time comes to harvest the wheat in the spring, they refer to what they have learned in the Book of Ruth and wish to leave the gleanings for the poor. After some discussion, they realize that this ancient custom is passé in modern times and and choose the alternative of feeding some of the stalks to the goats at a nearby petting zoo, a beautiful substitute update to an ancient Jewish custom, and also a green and environmentally-friendly message. The reward for their good deed is fresh goat cheese, which will go straight into the cheesecake they plan to bake for the holiday. They thresh, winnow and grind the rest of the wheat to make a crust and then put the ingredients together to make and bake the cheesecake. Strawberries from the school garden are the “icing” on the cake. The book closes with pictures of the children enjoying the fruit of their hands and their hard work. This book is a delight, focusing on the simultaneous challenge and simplicity of this creative project, which teaches about the holiday and the environment. It includes a recipe for the cheesecake and information about the holiday of Shavuot. Recommended for ages 3-11.” —Jewish Book World
“Cheesecake for Shavuot is the fourth in Allison Ofanansky’s nature/holiday series that includes Harvest of Light, What’s the Buzz, and Sukkot Treasure Hunt. The text is illustrated with beautiful color photographs. The class begins by planting wheat in the school garden. At Shavuot time, they harvest the wheat and learn about leaving the gleanings for the poor, as described in the book of Ruth. The class decides to give the gleanings to the goats at a petting zoo, where they get fresh goat cheese. The children then cut the wheat stalks, bundle them, thresh them, winnow and grind them into flour. Cheesecake for Shavuot is highly recommended for all libraries. It offers a unique slant on teaching about Shavuot. The reader learns not only about the holiday, but also how flour is made. The book also touches on the Jewish value of giving to the poor. Children and adults will enjoy learning about the process of how wheat becomes flour and enjoy the photos that demonstrate and greatly enhance the text.”—AJL Newsletter
“An appealing photo essay follows Israeli children as they work in their school garden and kitchen. Color photographs, in close-up detail, capture a teacher and her middle-grade students as they plant wheat in the fall and watch it grow with the help of winter rains. In the spring, the grains are harvested, and the stalks are dried in the sun. Threshing, winnowing and grinding follow. The class brings the gleanings to a petting zoo and feeds them to some goats. They then use their wheat, along with cheese from goats’ milk, to prepare a cheesecake and decorate it with strawberries from the school garden. As explained in an afterword, the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, ‘weeks’ in Hebrew, is celebrated in late May or early June as the time that Jews were given the Torah. The biblical story of Ruth (who gleaned wheat) is read at this time. And why a cheesecake? Shavuot is also a celebration of both the grain harvest and fruit harvest. In addition, mother goats have more milk in the spring, which makes eating dairy products a holiday tradition. Children who participate in community and/or school gardening projects will find kindred spirits and useful information here. Recipe included. A holiday-cum-gardening-cum-food adventure in one neat package.” —Kirkus Reviews
Author: Allison Ofanansky
Allison Ofanansky, born in the U.S., moved to Israel and became an Israeli citizen in 1996. She lives in the village of Kaditah near the mystical city of Safed, with her husband Shmuel and daughter Aravah. They enjoy hiking the hills of the Galilee, gathering and eating the fruits that grow there. They are involved in environmental and eco-peace projects.
Photographer: Eliyahu Alpern
Born and raised outside Chicago and now living in Israel, photographer Eliyahu Alpern has been interested in food, travel, and photography since childhood. He's been a musician, cougar rehabilitator, vegetarian chef, organic farmer and multi-media maven. His photographic specialty is 360-degree panoramic images of Israel. He lives in the Upper Galilee with his family.