Newbury Park synagogue to celebrate Shavuot tonight with cheesecake and overnight study

Ann Fishman makes a cheesecake

Ann Fishman makes a cheesecake - Credit: Archant

Cheesecake lessons, overnight study and a talk by an expert on dead languages will all take place on Monday, as synagogues around the borough prepare to celebrate Shavuot.

Rabbi David Hulbert with the ten commandments

Rabbi David Hulbert with the ten commandments - Credit: Archant

Activities will start on Monday evening but Shavuot itself, which commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Siani, is on Tuesday.

Bet Tikva Synagogue is expected to attract some 60 people for the evening which will include a talk by Dr Irving Finkel from the British Museum.

Rabbi David Hulbert of the synagogue in Perrymans Farm Road, Newbury Park, said: “It’s perfect weather. It’s like high summer with blossom and long days and short nights.

“We will stay up all night. It’s a joyful occasion but it’s not singing and dancing, it’s serious.”

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Dr Finkel, who is an expert in ancient Mesopotamian scripts and languages including Babylonian and Sumerian, will be discussing Aramaic which is read by many Jews.

He will be speaking at about 9pm and is described by Rabbi Hulbert as a” larger than life character”.

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Shavuot is held 50 days after Passover and marks when God gave the Torah to the people of Israel assembled in Mount Sinai in Egypt.

Rabbi Hulbert said: “It’s a festival and then you stay up late into the night looking at the Bible and the Book of Ruth as she converted to Judaism. It’s wonderful. She was the great-grandmother of King David.”

During the evening, there will also be a presentation on how to make the perfect cheesecake, something that has become traditionally associated with the festival.

Rabbi Hulbert said: “Basically, it’s a tradition, but some rabbis give the explanation that, when the Torah was given, they didn’t have time to kill animals in the correct way until the slaughterers were taught, so we couldn’t eat cows, so we were stuck with cheese.”

Some synagogues, such as South West Essex and Settlement Reform Synagogue, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park, have incorporated a cheesecake competition into Shavuot celebrations.

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