Yom Rishon, 29 Kislev 5778
  • Torah
  • Community
  • We Grow Future generations.
  • Reach Out We work at repairing the world
  • Celebrate We celebrate Jewish Holidays.

Dear Congregation Shir Ami members,

We have made it past the chagim, the series of holidays beginning with Rosh HaShanah and ending with Simchat Torah, and now find ourselves in the days of chol, the ordinary, no longer the holy. It's the time of productivity — the time to get things done! There are no more Jewish holidays until Hanukkah, which itself by Jewish standards is not even a major festival although we do cherish it. November, however, does play host to another holiday that you might be looking forward to — Thanksgiving.

Sukkot – our harvest festival – might be argued as the basis for Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims saw themselves as the "New Israelites" escaping religious persecution in England, their "Egypt," and creating a new home for themselves in America, their "Israel.” While the origins of Thanksgiving in the U.S. may or may not be seen as particularly Jewish, throughout the year, we Jews do plenty of thanksgiving. Our daily morning prayer includes Psalm 100, literally the "psalm of thanksgiving." It includes a very universalistic message that used to be sung as offerings were brought to the Temple (except on Shabbat). Likewise, the Amida repeated daily includes a whole section on thanksgiving called hoda'ah.

However, the connection between thanksgiving and Judaism can be made on a much deeper level. When we say “todah" or "thank you" in Hebrew, the root of that word is in fact .ה.ד.י (the yud drops in the word but is still a part of the root). From this root, we have the word for Judah, the Israelite kingdom that held Jerusalem, and, of course, those Israelites that came from Judah — the Jews. Giving thanks is absolutely intrinsic to who we are as a people.

I wish you all a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving!

Rabbi Sam Klein

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