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Thanksgiving

11/23/2022 12:43:31 PM

Nov23

Rabbi Hearshen

Reading, watching and/or listening to the news is enough to bring a person to tears. Shootings in Virginia and Colorado, college students murdered in Idaho, and a double bombing in Jerusalem is just the peak of the mountain of awfulness in the news at this time. There’s just so much hurt and pain and sadness. When moments like this happen, it becomes hard to see the light through the darkness. When times like this occur, it just feels like we cannot walk without tripping over the pain around us. And yet, it’s time for us to celebrate a special and wonderful holiday, Thanksgiving.

Jewish people should celebrate Jewish holidays with all their being. I often wonder about the merits of celebrating non-Jewish holidays in the Jewish community. Things like Halloween and Valentines Day perplex me because all too often Jewish people celebrate those more than holidays like Sukkot and Shavuot. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, I have a totally different viewpoint. To begin with, Thanksgiving is religious in its tone and in its core. The very basic idea of being thankful is something truly and deeply religious. Thankfulness is the core expression of a person who notices they are not alone. When one is thankful, they testify to the world outside of themselves. When someone is thankful, they acknowledge they need others and that they are the recipients of gifts. In Hebrew, we say תודה/Toda, but the thing about that word is it means more than thank you… it means to admit something. When we say thank you, we’re saying we need other people and that we didn’t do something on our own. Therefore, being thankful is a deeply religious act and one that needs to be furthered in our world.

Thanksgiving is a religious observance for us because it pushes us to gather with friends and family over traditional foods which is a deeply Jewish way of celebrating our own holidays. When we’re gathered, we do so with the ability to reflect over what we’ve been blessed with, and so many of those blessings are gathered around our tables. It’s also possibly a religious observance because some believe the origin of the first Thanksgiving came from the Pilgrims and their reliance on the Bible. They looked for a way to celebrate their new land and harvest, and found the observance in the Fall of Sukkot which is the ultimate holiday of thankfulness.

Our world is in chaos and in darkness. But we don’t need to be a part of the chaos… we can provide order. We don’t need to be in the darkness… we can light candles and find the light. In spite of the awfulness around us, we need to look and find the light and beauty that is there as well. We need to look and see we have so much we must say “thank you” for. We need to recognize we have so much in ourselves to be able to celebrate.

I’m thankful for Carrie, Ayelet and Galit. I’m thankful for my parents and my sister. I’m thankful for my health and the doctors and all in the healthcare fields who take care of us to help us stay healthy. I’m thankful for the farmers who grow our food and the factory workers who package that food for us. I am thankful for the drivers who transport our food and the stock people and clerks who help us to get that food home. I’m thankful for those who write so we can enjoy the gift of literature. I’m thankful to our teachers because they’re the ones responsible for our future in every way, shape and form. I’m thankful to our police, fire fighters, paramedics and members of the military. They serve when we do not. They run to danger when we run away. They are heroes. I’m thankful to civil servants for putting their lives second to the needs of our communities. I know this list is woefully lacking so many other noble and important fields. The reality is that no life would be able to be what it is today without every other person in the world. We live in an interconnected world that needs every person to continue to be sustained. So, thank you to one and all for all you do for our world.

Thank you to Adam, Hilary, Nicole, Matty, Dee, Victor and Alex for all they do for our community and for our synagogue. You’re an incredible staff and working with all of you is such a blessing. Thank you to David Franco for being a wonderful president and to his board for working on our community’s behalf every day. Thank you to Angie Wieland for leading our Sisterhood with such passion and love. Thank you to all of you for accepting and receiving me and my family in such a moving and beautiful way. I am truly inspired by, and thankful for, each and every one of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tue, November 29 2022 5 Kislev 5783