Journal

Always Thankful this Thanksgiving

by | Nov 18, 2014 | Editorial

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It sometimes comes just a month or so after all the Jewish holidays. They entail umpteen three and four course meals. It takes weeks to recover.
But still, I must make Thanksgiving.

It’s not just about the turkey, although, of course, we serve that, along with the sweet potatoes, cranberry, et al. But I serve turkey at other times as well.

And yes, it’s about the Pilgrims and the Puritans, but that’s a history lesson, and for me Thanksgiving hits closer to home.

Some say Thanksgiving is a day to thank G-d for all our blessings. Well, yes, but so many people I know, myself included, do that in daily prayer.

So what does Thanksgiving really mean to me? As an American Jew, born and bred here, I view it as a day to thank G-d for the blessing of America and what it has done for the Jews. American has been the most welcoming country for Jews in the history of the world. It saved my grandparents from the pogroms, persecutions and dire poverty of Eastern Europe. It welcomed my in-laws after the Nazis destroyed their lives.

On Thanksgiving I do think about the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock. But I also think about that ship carrying twenty-tree Jews fleeing the Inquisition in Brazil in 1654. The ship was headed to Holland but was blown off course and landed in New Amsterdam, later known as Manhattan Island. Despite Governor Peter Stuyvesant’s objections, the Jews were allowed to remain and established the first organized Jewish community in North America. Later would come more Sephardic Jews, then the German ones, then the Easter European wave at the turn of the last century. Then would come the refugees of the Holocaust, then the Soviet Union, then the Iranian Revolution. And on and on as with so many other refugee groups from so many places. It still goes on today. They find not streets paved with gold but a land of golden opportunity.

As we serve our golden brown turkey on burnished golden party plates this year, that is what I will be thinking about. We’ll have a fire crackling in the fireplace and “Over-the-River-and-Through-the-Woods”-type music playing on an i-device. We are so blessed with all this, even more so to be surrounded by family and friends. And unless we are crazy enough to line up for some midnight store opening for Black Friday, we will sleep soundly at night. Our bellies will be full. We will feel safe.

Back in September a few of my grandchildren spontaneously started singing “The Star Spangled Banner.” They had a contest to see who could remember the most words. I sat there smiling but with a lump in my throat. Here is another generation singing, “Oh, say does that banner yet wave…”

Thank G-d for America.

But still, I must make Thanksgiving.

It’s not just about the turkey, although, of course, we serve that, along with the sweet potatoes, cranberry, et al. But I serve turkey at other times as well.

And yes, it’s about the Pilgrims and the Puritans, but that’s a history lesson, and for me Thanksgiving hits closer to home.

Some say Thanksgiving is a day to thank G-d for all our blessings. Well, yes, but so many people I know, myself included, do that in daily prayer.

So what does Thanksgiving really mean to me? As an American Jew, born and bred here, I view it as a day to thank G-d for the blessing of America and what it has done for the Jews. American has been the most welcoming country for Jews in the history of the world. It saved my grandparents from the pogroms, persecutions and dire poverty of Eastern Europe. It welcomed my in-laws after the Nazis destroyed their lives.

On Thanksgiving I do think about the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock. But I also think about that ship carrying twenty-tree Jews fleeing the Inquisition in Brazil in 1654. The ship was headed to Holland but was blown off course and landed in New Amsterdam, later known as Manhattan Island. Despite Governor Peter Stuyvesant’s objections, the Jews were allowed to remain and established the first organized Jewish community in North America. Later would come more Sephardic Jews, then the German ones, then the Easter European wave at the turn of the last century. Then would come the refugees of the Holocaust, then the Soviet Union, then the Iranian Revolution. And on and on as with so many other refugee groups from so many places. It still goes on today. They find not streets paved with gold but a land of golden opportunity.

As we serve our golden brown turkey on burnished golden party plates this year, that is what I will be thinking about. We’ll have a fire crackling in the fireplace and “Over-the-River-and-Through-the-Woods”-type music playing on an i-device. We are so blessed with all this, even more so to be surrounded by family and friends. And unless we are crazy enough to line up for some midnight store opening for Black Friday, we will sleep soundly at night. Our bellies will be full. We will feel safe.

Back in September a few of my grandchildren spontaneously started singing “The Star Spangled Banner.” They had a contest to see who could remember the most words. I sat there smiling but with a lump in my throat. Here is another generation singing, “Oh, say does that banner yet wave…”

Thank G-d for America.

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