When people think of Jewish holidays, they tend to think of the big four – Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Passover, and Hanukkah. These holidays tend to draw the most attention from mainstream media and sales potential due to their timing and uniqueness. For example, supermarkets clear aisles of shelves to stock Kosher for Passover items, Hanukkah is all about gift-giving and falls on the calendar during December, well-timed to entice greater pre-Christmas/New Years sales. And the high holidays have their own family & New Year symbolisms that help businesses end a slow summer third quarter more successfully.
But what about the holiday of Shavuot, a small two day holiday that falls during the month of May? Although barely recognized by the American calendar (or bosses for that matter – “What, another holiday??”), this two-day holiday symbolizes the greatest moment in Jewish history – the creation of the Jewish people through the receiving of the Torah.
Yes, Shavuot isn’t as big as Passover, Sukkkot, or Hanukkah nor is it as internationally recognized as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Shavuot, however, does have it’s own unique trait – the Dairy factor.
The Dairy Holiday
Long story short, when the Jewish nation received the Torah, they first learned about the rules of Kosher and non-Kosher and what meats & fish they can and can’t eat. Since they just learned about the rules that same day, the Jewish people were wholly unprepared to celebrate like they do all other Jewish holidays, with lots of meat and lots of food. The result – they ate dairy because the rules of Kosher regarding dairy are easier to accomodate (there’s a Kosher symbol on nearly every gallon of milk and carton of eggs nationwide, FYI) and so, to this day, we celebrate Shavuot by eating dairy for all or most of the meals.
Paging Temp Tee, Breakstone’s, Miller’s Cheese, Junior’s and Dairy Farmers of America! This is the holiday to target the Jewish consumer with coupons and deals. Provide free recipes for some popular Jewish dairy options, such as blintzes, that the Jewish community can use over the holiday. If they fall in love with your product now, they’ll use it all year round. Lasagna, baked ziti, kreplach, cheesecake, you name it, if it feeds a whole family, the Jewish community is interested.
There’s Dairy & then there’s Cholov Yisroel
Although this may be a bit off tangent, it’s important to mention what Cholov Yisroel is so you understand which Jewish communities require that label and which don’t. To keep it simple, Cholov Yisroel (quite simply “Milk of Israel) means that the dairy products were observed by Jewish authorities. In certain countries even now, the milks of Kosher and non-Kosher animals were mixed together (such as goats which are Kosher and horses which are un-Kosher), rendering all dairy products un-Kosher for use. In the US, cow milk is generally the standard, which means the term and requirement of the Cholov Yisroel label is obsolete in certain Jewish communities. However, to many ultra-Orthodox communities, Cholov Yisroel is a MUST HAVE even now.
With that in mind, your dairy products will indeed hit every Jewish market successfully if they are branded “Cholov Yisroel”. It’s even possible your Kosher certification may be recognized as a Cholov Yisroel authority anyway. Either way, Cholov Yisroel is important for certain Jewish communities but not all so be aware of the community you’re targeting and understand how your product is perceived.
That’s the holiday of Shavuot as it pertains to marketers and businesses. It’s a short holiday and one that falls during the “sell in May and go away” season (which leaves the holiday overlooked) but if you’re in the dairy business, this is the holiday to stimulate some dairy sales prior to the BBQ friendly summer season!
Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder