Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
So here we are at Thanksgiving once again. And while it seems very natural and commonplace these days for Jews to have absorbed Thanksgiving into our heritage and traditions, it has not always been that way. In fact, over the last 150 years or so, there was debate in the Jewish community as to whether Thanksgiving fit with our Jewish traditions and values. Unlike holidays like Halloween, Halacha does not prohibit the celebration of Thanksgiving because it does not have religious overtones.
A little-known fact: Thanksgiving did not become an annual American holiday until President Abraham Lincoln declared it so in 1863. In any case, it is a time to spend time with friends and family, reflect on our blessings and to be thankful.
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei (He went out), Jacob encounters what has become known as Jacob’s Ladder. The ladder connects heaven and Earth, a connection between this world and the blessings promised by G-d to our people.
During this time of thanks, I reflect on our many blessings…how fortunate we are to have food on our tables and in our bellies; a safe and comfortable roof over our heads; a Jewish community blessed with fabulous congregations, Rabbis, Jewish schools, and organizations and services for those in need; overseas partners that help us care for our sisters and brothers in Israel and in 70 countries around the world…and I am truly grateful.
Heaven and Earth connected by a ladder? Sounds an awful lot like the Jewish community of Greater Phoenix in November 2017, doesn’t it?
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.