It used to be my embarrassing secret, like a schoolgirl who didn’t actually do her homework. Everyone would be talking about their turkeys, and guest lists, and leftovers, and I’m over here shopping for Shabbos dinner. After a number of years my husband would go buy some smoked turkey and have some on Thursday just so he could tell people he had his Thanksgiving turkey.
Why don’t we celebrate Thanksgiving?
No good reason, really. I think it’s because my grandparents are European, and my mother-in-law is Israeli, and it somehow just never took. I never really felt all that motivated to start it when my extended family wasn’t into it, plus Thanksgiving is always on Thursday night and Shabbos is always… yeah, Friday night. And we celebrate LOTS OF HOLIDAYS. So, really?
I am all about gratitude and family time. I’m all about holidays and rituals and food. But I am not looking for more work, to be honest.
I used to be filled with a certain superiority hearing all this Thanksgiving noise. OH MY GOSH. Shopping and birds and cranberry sauce and setting the table and leftovers. And I do this every week! Twice!
And then last year my son asked me: “Why don’t we celebrate Thanksgiving?” And I said, “I don’t know.” So I thought about it and decided to start. So I bought (cut up pieces of) turkey, and made cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and the works. And everything tasted so good. And I served it on Friday night. And everyone was happy.
Happy turkey day to all!
This is a subject that has always interested me when I was working in Orthodox schools. I understand that “we should be thankful everyday.” What I don’t understand is that the history is never mentioned. There seems to be no identification as American citizens – even though we are more than willing to take advantage of all of the benefits that our country provides.
Regards to your family. Tell them about the Native Americans and pilgrims! Jan
There are a lot of Americans who don’t celebrate thanksgiving due to the really horrific history of it. There are many other ways of identifying with the country you live and perhaps were born in, not just through celebrating a major holiday. It could easily be argued that these days Christmas is a very secular American holiday, and therefore American Jews should be celebrating that also. But really?! This has no regard for the history of the holiday. Likewise with Thanksgiving – many people have simply forgotten the history of the holiday, or what it’s really representing.
Jews should be focusing more on celebrating Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur & Sukkot to their fullest potential. Even Chanukah. Not worrying about adding in a holiday like thanksgiving.
Takua, saying that Christmas is a secular holiday ignore religious Christians the same way that saying that Passover is a secular or cultural holiday in Israel ignores religious Jews. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is an American holiday instituted by Christians, but not a Christian holiday.
There isn’t a horrific history to the Pilgrims. Many wrongs were done after, but their coming allowed this land to grow as a nation that has been exceptionally good to Jews and gratitude is a Jewish virtue – including to a country to which we owe a great deal.
We have celebrated Thanksgiving on the Friday for many many years. We always have a Shabbat table of at least 10-20 and doing two festive meals and cleaning up in between (we don’t use paper and plastic) is just too much. Years ago a Rabbi introduced us to the idea of Thanksgiving Friday and we immediately seized upon it. Cooking a lot of the meal ahead on Thursday makes that one Friday a lot less exhausting than other short day Fridays. We are also aware that the history we learned in secular grade school was not accurate. ( Where we live Columbus Day is now officially “Indigenous People’s Day.”) We don’t attach the holiday to History or being citizens. We attach it to fond memories of childhood when we enjoyed the holiday feast with family, including our parents who are no longer with us.
Over 20 years ago a woman who had survived the Shoah in Auschwitz said the following to me in answer to a different question: “Go out and celebrate every holiday and anniversary you can. You have to go out and look for joy. Sorrow comes to you all by itself.” As I recite this at our Friday Thanksgiving, I’ll remember her. And I remember every day that there are never too many days to be grateful.
Many American olim here in Israel will sit down to a turkey dinner this Thursday because a) it reminds us of the alte heim; b) it’s an opportunity to get together at a festive meal with friends who don’t live in walking distance (and, therefore, we can’t easily have a Shabbat or Yom Tov meal with them) and c) it’s become a tradition (our hostess has been doing this for 20+ years).
Among the differences between celebrating Thanksgiving here vs celebrating it in the USA: 1) you have to order turkeys from the butcher a week ahead; 2) many ovens here aren’t big enough for a large turkey; and 3) you have to go to a supermarket in an English-speaking neighborhood to find cranberry sauce.
*Hodu* laShem ki tov!
Actually, rescheduling Thanksgiving is becoming very popular. Remarried families, extremely high airline prices on Wednesday and terrible traffic, doctors and nurses in the family, trying to schedule everyone. I just yesterday overheard someone at work saying that they were having their Friendsgiving on Saturday.
You are on trend!
It makes a lot of sense to me to have Thanksgiving on Shabbat if your Shabbat is a big celebratory meal, who cares about the fourth Thursday in November vs. whatever Friday is closest to it?
We do exactly the same thing with Passover. No way can I pull together a Seder on a weeknight. We do it on a nearby Friday or Saturday when everyone is available.
I realize that Os wouldn’t do all the cooking and “work” around Shabbat to pull off the Seder (except when the official Passover Seder falls on a Saturday evening–how on earth do Os manage that??). But otherwise from an O perspective is it really a bad thing to have Seder on a different night than the ‘official’ one?
Yes because it is the anniversary of the day we came out of Egypt and therefore that day has certain spiritual energies.
We tried the Shabbos thanksgiving and it just didn’t feel right. The extra cooking is worth it for me. Not any different than having a day between Shabbos and Yom tov. To each their own!
Is Thanksgiving Kosher?
NOVEMBER 8, 2017 BY YAEL LEAVE A COMMENT
Is Thanksgiving Kosher
Some years we’ve done Thanksgiving Thursday AND THEN Shabbos but that’s way too much work for me so most years we do turkey on Shabbos. Some years if I don’t have time to hunt for an inexpensive enough turkey (driving to Trader Joes takes more than 5 minutes!), we don’t even bother. This year I got a $34 turkey– score! Today (Thursday) I made pumpkin pie, turkey, challah dough, and prepped the cholent. Tomorrow (ok, later today- it’s after midnight)– on Friday I’ll cook the cholent, bake the challah, make the fish, kishke, stuffing, etc. It’s two days of cooking anyway unless I can shove anything in the oven WITH the turkey and … NOPE — might as well serve it on Shabbos. Happy Thanksgiving/Shabbos/Shabbsgiving!
It’s a national holiday letting most off work. There is no requirement to feast on that particular day. It’s actually the harvest festival of the US. It should remind us of the kindness of the indigenous toward those who came across the ocean. What happened in the years after was a shame of course. Sadly it will be repeated. Why not just have some pieces of turkey, potatoes, green beans and call it a day? A pie isn’t necessary nor are 17 side dishes nor days of left overs. For a holiday meant to be grateful to have food we oddly celebrate it by wasting a lot of food.