Last night, in anticipation of Shavuot, which starts Tuesday night, my daughters and I made noodle kugel.

Yes, I know blintzes and cheesecake are more typical fare for this holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah, but noodle pudding shares their status as dairy-laden traditional Jewish food — and it’s considerably easier to prepare.

For Ellie, who is almost 7, it was a memorable occasion because I let her crack the eggs for the first time. One landed on the floor, but the others ended up in the bowl, with scarcely a shell fragment. She was exceedingly proud of herself, and I was pleased that I had let her need for experimentation and desire to grow up come ahead of my phobias of of culinary disaster and kitchen-cleaning.

Like learning to ride a bike (last summer’s big accomplishment), the first lost tooth (two weeks ago, marked of course with a visit from the tooth fairy) and her recent mastery of the monkey bars, the egg-cracking, all the more so because eggs are so symbolic anyway, felt like one of those rites of passage crying out for some sort of official ceremony. Which of course we did not actually do, particularly since my musings were interrupted by Ellie’s panic-attack realization that some of her weekend’s homework had gone unfinished.

Also in honor of Shavuot, I re-read The Book of Ruth. What strikes me most about this Bible story is that, while Ruth’s claim to fame is being Judaism’s first convert (and King David’s great-grandmother), she undergoes no formal conversion ceremony: no panel of rabbis, no mikveh, no promise (as nowadays seems required by Orthodoxy’s Rabbinical Council of America) to enroll any future children in 12 years of yeshiva.

Even more interesting is that Ruth, who is a Moabite, does not convert until long after marrying a Jewish man; indeed, not until after she has been widowed. And her motivation to convert seems to stem from the personal attachment she’s developed to her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi.
All of which, to me, is a validation of the gradual immersion in Judaism that so many supportive gentile spouses go through nowadays. And a testament to Naomi for accepting and supporting the choices of both Ruth and her other widowed Moabite daughter-in-law, Orpah, who, unlike Ruth, chooses to stick with her own heritage.

Happy Shavuot!

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