EATING AS A CONSERVATIVE JEW-from the USCJ Compact
MAKING THE U.S. THANKSGIVING DAY JEWISH
Bake a challah for Thanksgiving dinner. Try one with a Thanksgiving theme, such as cornmeal or cranberries. Say the motzi before eating.
Recall the history of the land. Go around the table and have everyone participate in recalling the history of America since the pilgrims arrived. Each person can continue where the one before left off.
Answer questions. Allow each person an opportunity to respond to questions such as these. What are we personally thankful for? What are we thankful for as Jews? What do we wish to contribute to this country? What do we believe are the highest ideals and best values of the United States ? Have we, as a nation, lived up to those ideals and values in the past year?
Read aloud great quotes. A great example of something you can read aloud at Thanksgiving is the Emma Lazarus poem that is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame:
With conquering limbs astride from land to
Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lighting, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest -tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Conclude with a blessing. Here’s an example of a blessing you can say before you conclude with Birkat HaMazon, the grace after meals: “God, Source of life, compassion, and justice, grant us wisdom and strength that we may lift our lamps for freedom, justice and compassion. Amen.
P.S. FYI :
In an article entitled, “Is Thanksgiving Kosher?” by Rabbi Michael J. Broyde, also titled “Thanksgiving at the End of November: A Secular or Religious Holiday”, he explores a halakhic analysis of Thanksgiving by three prominent Orthodox rabbis -- Feinstein, Soloveitchik, Hutner – and cites three opinions. ( www.tfdixie.com/special/thanksg.htm ) It is shared to a) show halakhic thinking; b) demonstrate that Judaism is not monolithic; c) to analyze differences in Orthodox Judaism; and d) to affirm that Conservative Judaism seeks to imbue Jewish life with kedusha as we proudly live in the world.
Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg