Happy Thanksgiving! I decided to do my Shabbat message one day early, so I could share my thanks to our wonderful congregation. I hope that your Thanksgiving is full of love, joy, family and, of course, good food. Whether you are celebrating virtually or in-person this year, I hope that it is a day for reflection, celebration, family and relaxation.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. In our diverse country, it is a day that we can all celebrate together. Thanksgiving has been important to the Jewish community, well, since the beginning. I always try to bring something new and interesting to the Thanksgiving table. I'll be sharing from these three quotes this year at the Thanksgiving table (and Zoom).
1789: Rabbi Gershom Mendes Seixas penned a long 40-page sermon for the very first national Thanksgiving. Here is one quote: We, the Jewish community, are “equal partakers of every benefit that results from this good government” and we should try “to live as Jews ought to do in brotherhood and amity, to seek peace and pursue it.”
1940: Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein of New York’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun wrote a message so timely for today:
“We pray sincerely for America and the ideals of democracy and freedom that are here enshrined. May she be strong to withstand all the currents that assail her and all the forces of evil that would invade her sacred precincts. . . A tower of light to her own citizenry, may she cast a steady beam and light up all the dark areas of the world and show to a perplexed and straying humanity the path of freedom, of life and of peace.”
And, a contemporary reading, adapted from Rabbi Marilee Gordon:
On this Thanksgiving day,
May we leave fear and jealousy by the wayside,
making room in our hearts for contentment, satisfaction and compassion.
May we start each day recognizing the goodness in our lives:
the blessing of being alive,
the ability we possess to love and to be loved,
the many gifts and talents we have been graced with,
the support we receive
and the support we are able to extend.
May our gratitude lead to action:
May we express our gratitude.
May we smile when we encounter each other on the path,
may we seek opportunities to share our talents with others,
may we express our love to one another,
may we give with no expectation of receiving.
May we seek to repair what is broken.
May we end each day counting the day’s blessings,
those we have received and those we have bestowed.
May we be a blessing.