As Jews around the world prepare to commemorate the giving of the Torah with the quickly-approaching holiday of Shavuos, Rabbi Menachem Hartman is preparing to milk a cow.
The Shliach to Vietnam won’t be milking the animal himself, per se, but rather supervising the milking of between 20 and 30 of them this week so that he can take the milk home to Ho Chi Minh City for pasteurization. This is the only way to obtain the strictly kosher dairy products known as cholov yisroel in that part of Southeast Asia, and for Shavuos– a holiday whose customs include eating dairy products – Hartman will need a lot.
“We’ll have different kinds of food,” the rabbi revealed about the plans he and his wife Rochel have for a giant community meal Sunday afternoon. “In general, Vietnam doesn’t have much dairy food, so everyone’s happy with it.”
Their guests, who are expected to number about 50, will be treated to a dairy Kiddush buffet of pies, pasta and cheesecake.
“Of course cheesecake,” he said of the frequent holiday staple. “How can we have Shavuos without cheesecake?”
(For a worldwide directory of holiday celebrations in your area, click here.)
The Vietnam buffet lunch and afternoon program for children is open to local community members and travelers alike. Hartman hopes they come away full, also with an understanding of the holiday’s most important traits. Central to Shavuos is the public reading of Aseres Hadibros– the Rebbe encouraged families to bring their infant children – and Hartman wants everyone to experience them with the same happiness and awe that the Jewish people experienced thousands of years ago at Har Sinai.
“I want them to be happy that we received the Torah,” he said.
The two-day holiday, which begins this year on this Motzoei Shabbos* will be marked around the world with ice cream, cheesecake, Ać÷ and lots of learning. One oft-observed custom is staying up all night and studying Torah, which congregants will be doing at Chabad of Owings Mills, Md., Chabad at the Beaches in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and beyond.
In Berlin, Shliach Rabbi Shmuel Segal will be hosting a lecture and synagogue tour on Yom Tov eve, and an ice cream party and two-hour program for children the following morning. There will also be parallel events taking place for a largely Israeli crowd, and everyone is welcome to both, he said.
Yom Tov being on Sunday as opposed to a school night gives synagogues and Jewish community centers the chance to have even bigger programs, he noted, adding that the Berlin events draw a mix of families from across the Jewish spectrum and around the Jewish world.
“I’m hoping a lot of kids are going to come,” said Segal. “It’s going to be a nice event, with a good atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, at Chabad of Flagstaff, Shluchim Rabbi Dovie and Chaya Shapiro sent out fliers and started making phone calls to personally invite people to attend their Dairy Delights and Luncheon event, which will begin Sunday at noon.
In addition to a dairy lunch, cheesecake and deserts – followed by a reading of the Torah– there will be an ice cream sundae bar for the kids and Shavuos games.
“Every year it’s more exciting,” said Dovie Shapiro. “Sunday’s always great to give more people an opportunity to attend.”
It’s important to raise awareness about the holiday, he continued. “The general message is that sometimes Jewish people feel like they have to explore all over the world to find inspiration and meaning in their lives. Meanwhile, the treasure is in our own backyard: It’s the Torah, which is our source of endless inspiration. And if we find the messages in the Torah that relate to our daily lives, we can be constantly inspired.”
* This year the first night of Shovuos falls out on Motzoei Shabbos. Here is a brief summary of pertinent halochos. For all other halachic issues, please consult your local Rov.
Some halachos concerning Havdolo from Motzoei Shabbos to Yom Tov.
A.When davening Maariv, you add "vatodienu" in "Ata Vechartonu" in Shmoneh Esreh. If you forgot and said already Baruch Ata Hashem, it isn't necessary to repeat the Shemonh Esreh. Vetodienu can be said instead at the end of the Shemoneh Esreh, after you say "Yihiyu leratzon."
B.You cannot eat or do any melacha (or even wash dishes or set the table) before you hear Havdalla.
1.If you want to cook (or warm up food), light candles, do the dishes or set the table before Havdalla, you should first say, “Baruch HaMavdil bein kodesh lekodesh,” or daven Maariv and say vetodienu.
2.Obviously, this is permitted only when Shabbos is over. Consult your calendar for your local time.