26 November 2008

Is Thanksgiving a Jewish Holiday?

Yes and No.

Yes: Many cultures have a harvest festival. One of the holidays attributed to the Thanksgiving model is Sukkot (or so the Hebrew school myth goes).

No:It's an American holiday. While the early presidents had days of Thanksgiving proclaimed, it did not remain permanent until 1863 when Lincoln established it during the dark days of the War Between the States. We should be thankful to G-d everyday. It takes away from honoring Shabbat if we have to make such a large feast for a secular occasion.

Maybe: For many Jewish-American "melting pot" families, Thanksgiving is the one holiday without hang-ups. As long as the food is kosher, there are no battles about ritual observance like what one may encounter at a seder with frum/non-frum relatives. People with non-Jewish relatives (which is more common than many of us want to realize) enjoy a day absent of religion that can still be about family.

Saying all this, unless I get a real inspiration for a blog post, I may not be online tomorrow. I will be cooking my Thanksgiving meal, spending time with my family, and reflecting.

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