Monday, 21 May 2018


Today marks the second and last day of the Jewish festival of Shavuot. Shavuot is a fairly minor festival which celebrates one of the milestones in the story of Moses. In Israel, it’s celebrated on a single day, but in the diaspora, for some reason, it’s a two-day festival, which means, after taking Shabbat into consideration, we managed to poll three days of singing on the trot in the synagogue. And once we get into those choir stalls, we basically never shut up, so there’s been a phenomenal amount of material to learn! Today’s service was particularly epic. We were in the building for four solid hours! I don’t mind in the slightest, however. It’s always great fun and it’s wonderful to be able to turn up and simply sing without having to worry about organising people.

I was horrifically late to the rehearsal, however. London ceases to work when a simple thing goes wrong. This morning “points failure in the North Acton area” meant I had to abort my tube journey and literally run, in a suit, to Queensway from Lancaster Gate. I arrived looking like I’d fallen into the Serpentine.

The great news about Shavuot is that it’s traditionally celebrated through the consumption of cheese. Any festival, in my view, which allows a person to gorge himself silly on cheese has to be a good thing. Quite whether kosher cheese has much to write home about, however, is another matter. I asked the rabbi if they made kosher halloumi and was assured they did, but I’m fairly convinced it would turn out to be pretty tasteless!

Because meat and dairy can’t be cooked together, you can always be assured that a pescatarian won’t find any nasty surprises in a quiche served up on Shavuot. A veggie has to be a bit more careful, however, because Jewish people tend to love their fish, and fish IS allowed to be cooked with dairy. There’s even a kosher tradition of eating salmon lasagne, which sounds profoundly minging if you ask me!

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