Friday, November 24, 2006

Post Thanksgiving Observations

Yesterday in America, Americans celebrated the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving. Before I take any religious questioning about anything, I always check to see what was already discussed on Gils blog. After briefly going through some of these posts I want to discuss the following based upon how I feel about the issue.

According to Wikipedia, "Thanksgiving is another name for the Harvest festival, held in churches across the country on a relevant Sunday to mark the end of the local harvest, though it is not thought of as a major event (compared to Christmas or Easter) as it is in North America, where this tradition taken by early settlers became much more important."

If this definition is correct then Thanksgiving should be considered a religious holiday. The day of Thanksgiving is on a different day in Canada and I don't believe other countries celebrate such a holiday. If other countries do not celebrate it then maybe it isn't a religious holiday and it is just an American holiday. I get together with my family on Thanksgiving and I think that Frum Jews in America should take advantage of this holiday and have a meal with their family.

Most Frum Jews get together with their families for Shabbos meals and Yom Tov Meals with restrictions of the melochos of Shabbos and Yom Tov. Thanksgiving offers a time when you can have a meal and enjoy it with your family without having to worry about any Shabbos or Yom Tov problems. The only issue that I see is leftovers. At everyone's meal there is usually leftovers and because Thanksgiving is on Thursday many do not cook for Shabbos and just eat leftovers for Thanksgiving. I think that this practice is wrong and Shabbos needs to come first not second as leftovers indicate. With this in mind, do the Conservative and Reform movement take Thanksgiving too far? I think they do and they should focus their time on Torah and Mitzvos instead of concentrating on Thanksgiving. Here are a few links of examples of what's done in the conservative and reform movements"
1 - From a shul in Long Island
2- From the Reform movement (PDF)

It seems the reform movement is big into helping the Hungry worldwide and the conservative movement is big into the interfaith dialogue. I understand that where the reform movement is coming from with the hunger but I don't understand why they don't list any of the Jewish organization's that help with this problem and only seem to be interested in the secular groups. As Jews, the Jewish people should come first. I am not saying we shouldn't help non Jews but if we are giving away all our money to non- Jewish groups who is going to help our own?

Last year there was an article in the Jewish World/sentinel about a prayer to add during benching that was composed by one of these movements to be said on Thanksgiving. My question to them is what about the Modim prayer in Shemonah Esrei and Mizmor Ltodah?? Teach your movement to say these prayers and what they mean instead of coming out with new ones which to me says you don't respect the ones we have already and have been saying for thousands of years.

I am curious to see what other people did for Thanksgiving and what they think of my observations.


Anonymous said...

I am not frum but I am jewish. Thanksgiving to me is the most important holiday (not holyday) of the year. Why? because this is the day I personally give thanks to God and my loved ones for all my blessings. It is the day I reflect on my blessings. It is a day that has no religious significance and a day I feel most people are celebrating together as a nation. This to me is the beauty of Thanksgiving as well. The unity..the tradition of a country. A day when everyone in the USA is the same and celebrates the same.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting observations.

Though on your point of it being a religious holiday; even if it isn't, it could still be classified as Chukas Hagoy. In my blog I quoted Rav Moshe Feinstein's oft-misquoted opinion on this. I did not quote the whole Teshuva, but earlier he establishes that Chukas Hagoy is not necessarily dependent on a religious Chok.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I didn't do anything for the holiday. I used to have dinners if my extended family made them otherwise not.

Anonymous said...

very sensitive topic. Very torn in the frum world. I myself dont celebrate the day but i dont look donw upon anyone who does.

Lvnsm27 said...

my family and I acknowledge thanksgiving, but we don't get really into it. We just have a nice meal. :)

Excellent point about also preparing for shabbos so we don't make it like second class. I think that to really give thanks to G-d, we should prepare a nice meal on friday for shabbos.

I also agree about charity, first we should help our own and then afterwards help others. There are plenty of people to help those other charities but there are not a lot of people helping US. And so we need to help our own first.

FrumWithQuestions said...

Stephanie- I understand where you are coming from. Do you celebrate any Jewish holiday? Every Jewish holiday has some aspect of Thanksgiving in it so why not be thnkful on those days as well?
SWFM- Maybe it would be good for you to go out and spend the no work Thanksgiving day with your family even if you are not going to do anything.
Chaverah- I don't see what there is to be torn about. Check out the discussion I had about Halloween and what Hirhurim had to say about it. I got the overall impression that there is no problem celebrating Thanksgiving as long as it is done appropriatly,
LVNSM27 - Thanks for stopping by. What does that mean acknowledge? You either do or dont celebrate. i don't think there is a middle ground.
FIT- I will read through your post to see what you have to say about the issue.

Anonymous said...

I suppose we observe all jewish holidays traditionally, not religiously. I was not raised religiously so i suppose I celebrate as I was raised to. Thanksgiving holds very much meaning to me for the reasons I stated, and more personal reasons as well. I am extremely spiritual in my beliefs and I have my own set of beliefs that I have experienced. I do not believe in man-made religion:) To me, being Jewish means more than religion anyway. I have very religious (frum) friends that take so much spirituality from their beliefs..and they are truly happy and at peace..and others that simply complain about all they have to do. Go figure?

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