Why I'm Not Eating Cheesecake This Shavuos

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy erev Shavuos!

Last Thursday, I was in Lakewood doing some errands, and as is usual for me, at around 3pm I realized I needed to come up with something for dinner. I decided to run into Gourmet Glatt to grab some steak or chicken, and as soon as the electronic doors went "swoosh," and I entered the store, I felt it:

The frenzy!

Oh, how I remember the frenzy...

When I lived in Lakewood (and if you live in Brooklyn, or any other highly congested and busy Jewish metropolitan area), you will understand what I mean. Starting about a week before an upcoming holiday, stress levels collectively begin to rise up, slowly increasing, until that pre-yom tov frenzy is palpable everywhere you turn. And now with social media, there's really no escape, as the frenzy explodes directly out of our personal devices, no matter where we may live!

Even the calmest people aren't immune, and eventually can't help but get caught up in it. Let me tell you what happened to me:

As I entered Gourmet Glatt last Thursday, I felt the rush. The energy. The panic! I immediately started thinking, oh my, I better join the rush and start shopping for Shavuos right now (in the 5 minutes I had). But wait! I don't have enough time, so maybe I should just start panicking that I wasn't planning on even making my menu until Sunday. Or even better, maybe I should just feel inadequate because I was only planning a simple, clean, non-dairy Shavuos.  I was not going to eat, let alone bake any cheesecake. I just wasn't on par with all these rushing balabustas spilling loads of butter, cream cheese and sugary confections into their carts!!

Cheesecake and photography by Sara Reifer

But thankfully, it only took me about 5 seconds to detach myself from the frenzy, pull myself together with loads of self-awareness and love, grab some chicken and frozen broccoli for dinner, and get the heck outa there.

Because I know what works for me and my family, and it doesn't have anything to do with what anyone else is doing.

So, I'm not going to use this post to share my menu (although I'm happy to share my easy/clean menu formula below*) or another cheesecake recipe, or even to give tips on decorating your table for Shavuos. I've done that in previous posts (see below), and anyway, with the recent explosion on Instagram, there already is an over-abundance of information out there.

I just wanted to let you know that whatever works for you and your family is ok and will be wonderful. Whatever you do is good enough.

When we stop comparing ourselves with everyone else and we focus on what's most important, when we stick with what we love and what loves us back (i.e. sugar, dairy, and stress DO NOT love me back, for sure), and eliminate what we do not love and what does not love us back, and then make peace with it all, that is when we enjoy our holidays at the highest levels.

So go ahead and do what works for you. Start a month in advance or start today. Stay up all night baking, or skip dessert entirely. Enjoy your cheesecakes and Alfredos, or just eat chicken and broccoli.

Whatever. It's all good. Just enjoy this special time!

*My Clean/Stress Free Menu Formula:

First night: Soup, Chicken or Meat, 2 veggies.
First day: Fish, Chicken or Meat, 2 veggies, one salad.
Second night: Same as first night.
Second day: Same as first day.

I simply use this to build a delicious, beautiful, healthy menu from the cuts of meat, chicken, fish and produce I find most appealing in the grocery store. See? Easy peasy and guilt free!

I hope you all have a beautiful, uplifting chag Sameach,



PS If you're having guests and are plagued with 'trying to impressism' or 'what will people thinkism', remember, no matter what you serve, your meal is always as wonderful as you believe it is. I've been to people who've had loads of culinary confidence, but served a lousy meal; or who raved about how much food they make, but hardly had anything to eat, and vice versa. Just embrace what you've made and act like you're serving the best damn meal out there. It's about friends sharing a little time and food, that's it. And anyway, what they say when they leave is really not your business. Trust, me, they'll be back. No one says no to a free meal :)

If you DO want to see some of my tablescaping and menu ideas, read these previous Shavuos posts below:


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  1. Thank you Sharon! Your encouraging words make me feel more at ease about my lack of creativity this yomtov. As a creative person by nature, it bothers me when I may don't have a head for fancy menus.
    I won't be eating cheesecake either but that's because my son's wedding is in three weeks and I pulled sugar from my diet a few weeks ago. But I do believe in occasional indulgences and I will save a piece of my flippin' amazing looking pro cheesecake for after the wedding, because that works for me ;)