Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. But did you know that it has Jewish roots? The Pilgrims were religious people.When they wanted to celebrate their first harvest, they looked to the Bible for inspiration. They found the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles).
So does that matter today? Is there still a connection between Thanksgiving and Judaism? I’m glad you asked. There is a Jewish value called Hakarat Hatov, recognizing the good. This means taking time (ideally every day) to recognize the good in your life and to be thankful for it. This is the idea behind saying a bracha (a blessing) before and after we eat or when other good things happen to us. Jewish tradition says our goal should be to say 100 blessings a day. Can you image how our view of life would change if we took time 100 times a day to be grateful? Learn more about the value of Hakarat Hatov:
Suggestions for making your Thanksgiving more spiritual:
Make a Thankfulness journal with your children. You can create one from a blank book or use this template
Take time before dinner for each person at the table to share something(s) they are thankful for
Before the meal, place a slip of paper under each plate. Each paper should be a word of something people might be grateful for (food, family, shelter, friends, education, the GoJewish Blog, etc.). At dinner, have guests take turns reading their paper and explaining why that is something to be grateful for
Start the meal with hamotzi, the prayer before meals. (Learn the blessing here)
There are so many educational opportunities in Milwaukee. If you would like some help finding the right program for your child, contact Tzipi Altman-Shafer to talk about how you can “Go Jewish” with your family (414-963-2718 or TziporahA@MilwaukeeJewish.org).