Sunday, November 26, 2006


it's funny. in America, the debate rages wildly - should we really celebrate Thanksgiving along with the rest of the country? Of course we're grateful to America for allowing us to live in peace, for alowing us to excel and live happy, comfortable, Torah-observant lives. Of course we're thankful to G-d for this. but do we really have to take the one day the rest of the country has declared as its holiday, and eat the turkey, cranberry sauce, etc - just like the goyim? Can't we just be thankful every day, and go about our business on this day as if nothing unusual is going on, like we do on Christmas? after all, we are supposed to keep ourselves seperate. adopting the minhagim of the other nations isn't warmly recommended.
I've heard lots of reasonable arguments against this position. my favorite came in a Thanksgiving dinner dvar Torah; why do we get up and say the modim dirabanan with the shliach tsibur during chazarat hashas? bc when we hear anybody praising G-d's name, we have an obligation to jump up and join in that praise. so too on Thanksgiving, when we hear the whole country praising G-d, we have an obligation to join in and praise Him as well.
when you move to another country however, the holiday takes on a whole new meaning. it's ridiculous how many Americans in Israel go out of their way to celebrate Thanksgiving. the best resturaunts are booked for months, tourism is on a high ( bc of all the American families who take advantage of the long weekend to come visit their kids who are in yeshiva or seminary), grocery stores run out of pie shells and cranberry sauce, and it isn't too difficult to find a random get together of expatriates gathered around a turkey. and all the way over seas, the debate changes. the question of it's being frowned upon for doing as the goyim do is no longer relevant since no one is doing it but people like us. many are indifferent to it, or even happy that they forgot - it's a symbol of no longer living in a society not your own.
but I think actually there's a certain amount of importance for American olim to remember the day. yes we are finally home, thank G-d, and we should never know another strange culture. but it's good to remember the roots. what it felt like to be a stranger. keep a certain amount of humility for the fact that after all, it was at least partly America that allowed you to be here in the first place. of course it's all G-d's doing. but the process, the journey, is a tremendously important part of who we are and why we're here. it would be a good thing not to forget that.


Blogger Tobie said...

Interesingly, I managed to forget about Thanksgiving altogether. It just seemed like a non-issue in a place without family and so forth. Thanksgiving, like most American holidays, seems to me to be so diluted, commercialized, and secular that it is neither a problem of chukat hagoyim nor a good thing of being grateful. I mean, one can choose to be grateful on it, but that's hardly the ikar anymore for Americans in general.

Or maybe this is all just an excuse so I don't feel guilty about neglecting the traditions of the old country.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

yeah, I think you're wrong though. no doubt it is over-commercialized, just like every other holiday, but I still feel that there's a good amount of contemporary relevance to the whole being grateful thing. anyway, my main point was, that no matter what it is in America, I think American olim ought to celebrate it, bc for us the whole a whole new dimension has been added to the gratitude thing; we're grateful for what our old country gave us, grateful for what it still gives us, and most of all, we have the obligation not to forget a kindness.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I have decided that Tobie is an indie emo kid.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

you're a silly man. (what the flip is indie emo anyway?)

11:46 AM  

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