This Shavuot, I’m Ditching the Cheesy Recipes

Lena Horne in the kitchen.

For many Jewish sites, content relating to the Jewish holidays plays a key role in the yearly editorial calendar. The thinking goes, if people go online only a few times a year to search for Jewish content, it will be around the holidays. And if these information seekers aren’t searching for a haggadah or some printable Hanukkah coloring book pages, they are probably searching for recipes. After all, holidays in nearly every religion mean family gatherings with lots of food, and Judaism—even factoring in the fasts—is no exception.

I feel a certain amount of discomfort in posting on JWA’s blog the glowing, cheerful recipes so common this time of year. As a Jewish organization that focuses on women’s history and feminism, what does it mean to fill our blog with recipes for baked goods and brisket? Though we boast an increasingly robust number of male readers, JWA reaches mainly women. Do I want to bombard them with tips for cooking for a large family during the holidays? No, not really.

There is nothing wrong with being a feminist who cooks—I myself am an avid home cook; in fact it’s probably my favorite activity. I love food and the creativity that cooking encourages, plus I find cooking to be calming and therapeutic. It is a mistake to devalue traditionally feminine activities, and home cooking, particularly baking, have rightly been embraced by young women as important and meaningful: cooking allows us to live independently, it draws on centuries of tradition, and it brings many people of all genders joy and satisfaction.

And yet, I when sitting down to write about Shavuot, a food-centric holiday during which we traditionally consume dairy, the last thing I want to tell my audience of Jewish women is to get to the kitchen and pull out their mixing bowls. The work around holidays—cooking, cleaning, domestic work—still falls disproportionately on the shoulders of women. Articles about how to make the best cheesecake and blintzes for Shavout are still targeted directly at women, to the point that many are illustrated with photos and illustrations of women in the kitchen.

And honestly, there are plenty of recipes for perfect blintzes  out there already. I heartily recommend reading the cookbooks of two of our Power Couples honorees, Claudia Roden and Deb Perelman, for fantastic recipes written by creative, driven women who have built brilliant careers on home cooking.

This Shavuot, cook only if you want to, and if you don’t, support your local bakery. No one at your holiday gathering will be disappointed that you didn’t toil in the kitchen—they’ll be too busy eating that delicious store-bought cheesecake.  


Topics: Recipes, Shavuot
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How to cite this page

Metal, Tara. "This Shavuot, I’m Ditching the Cheesy Recipes." 21 May 2015. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 20, 2024) <>.