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"This Normal Life," his personal blog, has appeared weekly since 2002.
A former hi-tech entrepreneur, Brian moved to Jerusalem from the San Francisco Bay Area in 1994 with his wife and three children.
There are many food traditions that spring from this, including all the many foods made of ground matzah (called “matzah meal”).
These include things like matzah balls, gefilte fish and sponge cake.
It’s not traditional to fast, nor to eat particular foods.
Activities: Because this is a new holiday, there are no traditional activities. It was a pilgrimage holiday when the Temple was standing in Jerusalem, when farmers brought the first fruits of their four-year-old trees. When is it: Starts the evening of May 18, 2018; June 8, 2019, May 28, 2020 Foods: Dairy foods are traditional on Shavuot, some say because the Jews learned that all their meat was not kosher when they received the Torah! Activities: One of the traditional texts for Shavuot is the book of Ruth.
Cookies and cakes made out of nuts, like macaroons, are also big on Passover, as are candies that follow the special rules of keeping kosher for this holiday.
Activities: Observant Jews don’t eat bread or other leavened foods and have big holiday meal called a seder where they retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Hebrew name means: Ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. This fast day commemorates the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.
In the medieval period, Jews began attaching other calamities to the day, including the expulsion from Spain in 1492, making it an all-purpose day of mourning. When is it: Starts the evening of July 21, 2018, August 10, 2019, July 29, 2020 Foods: A fast day with no food or water.
In many Jewish communities, there are commemorative events. The modern State of Israel formally declared independence from Great Britain on May 14, 1948. It’s a one day holiday in the land of Israel, though Orthodox and Conservative Jews in the Diaspora keep it for two days. Reform Judaism therefore chose Shavuot as the holiday on which to hold Confirmation ceremonies, when teenagers reaffirm their Jewish beliefs.
Some light special yahrzeit (annual memorial) candles. Read more: Yom Ha-Shoah on My Jewish Learning, a non-denominational Jewish website. In order to make this political milestone into a religious holiday, Jews decided to tie the holiday to the Hebrew date, Iyar 5. Jewish communities, it’s the custom to have a fair or other celebration. No official greeting, but some might like to hear “happy Israel Independence Day.” Read more: The Israeli government webpage on Yom Ha-Atzmaut (in English.) Hebrew name means: Weeks, because it was traditional to count the weeks between Passover and Shavuot. Some Jews follow the mystical custom of an all-night study session, called a Tikkun Leil Shavuot, on the eve of Shavuot.
"Brian Blum is a freelance writer, journalist and editor.