Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

This is an interesting year indeed. It seems that each day brings new issues testing us in new and often uncomfortable ways. However, this Thursday is Thanksgiving. Let us take time to celebrate our many blessings. For many of us enjoy a bounty. Try to use this time to gather loved ones, families and friends, and recognize the many reasons you have to be grateful.

Let us also use the time to acknowledge we have a long way to go on the journey to fully realize the values that guide us. For there are too many in our country who do not fully enjoy all of its blessings. This is the time to rededicate our efforts to make this a kinder, gentler and fairer place for all.



Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiv-dayA simple Thanksgiving message

I invite us all to take a moment to express gratitude this Thanksgiving Day for the blessings we share.

Eat a lot, watch the parades, watch football, and be with family and friends.

Our country remains among the greatest on earth. We still have much work to do to bring the full blessings of America to all Americans. Now is the time for each of us to figure out what we need to do to make this a reality, to roll up our sleeves and rededicate ourselves to the values that make America great. Perhaps, Black Friday is the day for us to do that. But on Thursday, take the time to enjoy and share with others.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Gratitude

thanksgiv-dayHappy Thanksgiving.

With all the troubling things out there, let us all take a moment to recognize the many blessings we have. On this wonderful day that celebrates our bounty let’s find room to be thankful for what we have and resolve to share with those less fortunate in the year ahead.

The gift of our presence to another person is among the greatest presents we can share. Give to the cause that supports others and makes your heart feel gladness and deepen relationships with those around you.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Holidays

TurkeyWhen is it okay to participate in holidays traditionally reserved for others?

 Most of us are preparing for Thanksgiving. We have embraced Thanksgiving as the quintessential American holiday, and as such, we will be planning travel to visit other relatives, prepare a bountiful table and of course watch the Macy’s parade in the morning and football thereafter. American Jews embrace Thanksgiving, just like all other Americans, but we struggle with other American holidays. Although almost all of us celebrate Thanksgiving, many of us still wrestle with Halloween and most of us would not consider celebrating Christmas.

 These three holidays are iconic parts of living in America. And all three share religious backstories. Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Christ is certainly the most obvious. Halloween is grounded in pagan rituals and Thanksgiving is essentially a Christian Sukkot, rooted in a Christian religious tradition of gratitude for God’s bounty. What makes the secularization of this holiday such that we are able to embrace it and celebrate, stripping it of its original grounding and retelling the story in a way that it can become ours, and why are we unable to do likewise with the others?

 Many of us kept our children from Trick-or-Treating worried that dressing up in a costume and participating was an affirmation of a pagan ritual of witches and warlocks. However, Halloween has been stripped of its religious meaning. I read recently how one rabbi used a creative Jewish lens through which the celebration included sharing excess candy collected by her children with the less fortunate. One of my fonder memories is taking my son by the hand, dressed in a costume that mom created, while I was dressed up as a giant hamburger. The only bad part of Halloween was the stomach-ache and crash after my sugar high from over indulgence.

 Christmas is a more complicated situation. But in this age of acculturation, interfaith couples and of course commercialization, there are places where we can enjoy the holiday. I say that very cautiously and carefully because I do not want to be disrespectful of those that hold this as a sacred holiday. However, the Coca-Cola inspired Santa Claus and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer both pale in comparison when I faithfully listen as Bing Crosby sings White Christmas in the movie of the same name (Bing also sang it in Holiday Inn). Irving Berlin’s classic homage yearns for us to be able to embrace this American holiday as our own. As many of you know, coming from an interfaith background, I am familiar with the beauty of a family gathering, honoring my grandmother, and sharing gifts on a day devoted to love and togetherness. We as modern American Jews need to figure it out.  And in our own unique way, we have already begun.

National Menorah Lighting

National Menorah Lighting on the Mall

 We have substantially ramped up the Chanukah holiday celebration.  This is however a contrived response to a Christmas in which we long to participate. Without reservation I fully support the increase in joy we bring to our “minor” religious holiday including the latkes, Chanukah cards, 8 days of presents, parties and so on.  We go a step further in our “Chinese food and a movie” ritual on December 25. The question is whether we maintain a fictional “Chinese wall” separating holidays, holding steadfast to our modern re-interpretation of Chanukah, or can we consider an American Secular Christmas?  I submit that celebrating one holiday does not preclude the other, nor does such a celebration threaten our core beliefs. Instead, acknowledging Christmas in a modern American Jewish context can bring us in closer alignment with the Jewish dream of acceptance in America and more importantly, serve as a significant learning opportunity to share with our children what these holidays might mean metaphorically and Jewishly.

 Happy Holidays and Chag Sameach!