Friday, November 28, 2008

The Menu

Herring beet walnut salad
Chicken noodle soup
Mashed potatoes
Roasted sesame cabbage
Green salad
Mixed roasted vegetables
Apple cake

100% comfort food. Kind of like Thanksgiving food. :)

We don't really do anything for Thanksgiving. There's nothing in orthodox Jewish law that prohibits it, though many orthodox Jews simply don't celebrate non-Jewish holidays. Three years ago we were traveling on Thanksgiving and had Chinese take-out and thought it was one of the best Thanksgivings we had ever had, largely because of the total novelty of getting kosher Chinese takeout. It also felt really odd to have a big meal the night before shabbat. Usually, in anticipation of all the delicious delicacies that enhance our enjoyment of shabbat, we have a very simple Thursday night meal. Thursday is usually breakfast night - pancakes, eggs, waffles, omelets. I just don't like the feeling of shabbat getting upstaged by a different meal the night before.

What's the purpose of Thanksgiving? Why was it declared in the first place? Here are excerpts from what George Washington declared when he proclaimed the first Thanksgiving Day:

It will be "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

That this day "be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks..."

It is a day to be thankful for God's care and protection; for tranquility, union, and plenty; for our national government; for civil and religious liberty; and for all of God's favors.

These are all very Jewish notions that are present in our daily tefillos (prayers) and thoughts, and most especially during the holiest time of shabbat. We are, I hope, continually thankful and grateful for all that we have. To have a day set aside for this just feels odd to me, when our religion already has so much of it built into our daily lives. Shabbat really is the ultimate Thanksgiving.

So, we had Eggs Benedict tonight, and it was yummy. And tomorrow we will have our thanksgiving feast as we do every week. We will take a pause in our normal stream of time, set aside prayers for things we lack just as we do every shabbat, and thank God for the incredible abundance that we have in this place and time in which we are living.

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