Let­ters

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Odd, isn’t it, how Thanks­giv­ing, a hol­i­day with roots that ex­tend to the Re­for­ma­tion and the feast of grat­i­tude con­sumed by the Sep­a­ratist Pu­ri­tans, has been so read­ily em­braced by Amer­i­can Jews from nearly one end of the re­li­gious spec­trum to the other.

In­deed, Amer­i­can Jews – in­clud­ing those re­sid­ing in Is­rael – will fondly re­mem­ber the once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion-or-two event that oc­curred five or six years ago: the co­in­ci­dence of Thanks­giv­ing fall­ing on the same day as Hanukkah. The imag­i­na­tion pos­i­tively soared: can­died sweet pota­toes with latkes, pump­kin pie with suf­ganiyot, foot­ball with drei­dels (not ev­ery­thing can be per­fectly in sync, you know).

In fact, I read an opin­ion a while back that Jews liv­ing in Is­rael are ob­li­gated to ob­serve two days of Thanks­giv­ing .... Get it?

Dvora Waysman’s sweet sen­ti­ments not­with­stand­ing (“Let’s give thanks,” Novem­ber 22), for nearly a cen­tury the fo­cus on the thanks part of Thanks­giv­ing has be­come more than a lit­tle blurred. In 1939, ex­actly 80 years ago, US pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt de­cided the hol­i­day should be cel­e­brated on the sec­ond-to-last Thurs­day of Novem­ber rather than the last; an ex­tra Black Fri­day, he fig­ured, would bring a faster end to the De­pres­sion. Tra­di­tion pre­vailed, I’m happy to say, and two years later Thanks­giv­ing was re­turned to its hon­ored place in the fall cal­en­dar.

Thanks­giv­ing, then, is ba­si­cally a kick­off to De­cem­ber Delir­ium, the time when both Jews and Chris­tians busy them­selves with re­mov­ing from stor­age the para­pher­na­lia and dec­o­ra­tions of the up­com­ing hol­i­days, plan­ning par­ties and fam­ily din­ners, and fret­ting over how to keep the kids oc­cu­pied and su­per­vised dur­ing the ex­tended school va­ca­tion. Hell, the tur­key is barely di­gested be­fore the mad­ness gets un­der way.

Dvora, though, is quite cor­rect. Time should be re­served to ex­press grat­i­tude for all that we have and not take what­ever good for­tune we might be blessed with for granted. Ob­ser­vant Jews, in fact, do this ev­ery day, three times a day. Prayer is not only for re­quest­ing that which we are in need of, it also pro­vides the means to ex­press thanks for what we have al­ready been given.

And all with­out ch­est­nut gravy, Spi­der-Man floats and Mir­a­cle on 34th Street.

BARRY NEW­MAN

Ginot Shom­ron

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