Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We Give Thanks

Thanksgiving Sukkot and Chanukah, which is it?

Last year at this time the Jewish world was in a frenzy as we were celebrating Chanukah and Thanksgiving on the same evening.  Because of the Hebrew calendar and the fixed date of Thanksgiving this will not happen in our lifetime, not for many year to come.  

As we prepare for Thanksgiving this year I go back to connecting Sukkot and Thanksgiving as I think these 2 holidays have more in common than Thanksgiving and Chanukah, let's say.  Dr. Jonathan Saran, a professor of American History at Brandeis University tells us that, "The Puritans did not believe in fixed holidays, If it was a good season, they would announce a thanksgiving, but it’s not like the Jewish holiday which occurs on the 15th of the month of Tishrei (Sukkot). They did not believe in that. So in that respect it’s different.”

Sarna goes on to explain that, “They knew what they called the Old Testament, what we call the Hebrew Bible, they knew it, and they were influenced by it,” Now they didn’t go out and build huts, obviously. But the notion that one would be thankful for a bountiful harvest was certainly one they would have learned from the Hebrew Bible.”

In fact if we look back in secular American history  we find that Thanksgiving did not become a fixed holiday in America until President Abraham Lincoln established it in 1863. The holiday also did not have a fixed date until Congress established one—the fourth Thursday of each November—in 1941. Ask your parents and grandparents who remember Thanksgiving before 1941 when they celebrated the holiday.  

I know that we are all thankful for the having food, shelter, education and living in a wonderful community.  I do get phone calls at this time of year asking what we can do to help those who are not as fortunate as we are.  I first respond that during November and December most food banks and soup kitchens have more than enough volunteers.  However you can always donate to local food pantries!  Here are a few:  

The ARK
    6450 N. California
   Chicago, IL 60645 (773) 973-1000

 Northfield Office and Pantry Hours.
     Passport Plaza Building
     3801 West Lake Ave
     Glenview, IL 60026, Phone:(847) 724-8300
Deerfield Food Pantry
     601 Deerfield Road      
Highland Park Pantry 
     777 Central Avenue,847-432-3240 
Cool Food Pantry
     121 W. Water St.
     Waukegan, IL 847-662-1230

I would also remind you that by February these same soup kitchens, food pantries and food banks which are full to the brim now are looking for volunteers again.  I will try to remind everyone that this is the time to go out again and lend a hand.  I hope everyone has a good and meaningful Thanksgiving.