Friday, November 13, 2015

Thanksgiving and the Jewish connection

What’s Jewish about Thanksgiving?  I see the world through Jewish colored lens and certainly there is much in Thanksgiving which is Jewish.  Thanksgiving does remind us of the holiday of Sukkot, our harvest holiday and gives us a minute to say thank you and be grateful for all we have.  

When I teach or prep for a holiday I like to have concrete examples and a plan of action.  Here are a couple of easy to do and concrete ideas for Thanksgiving:

1.  Say the Motzi (blessing over the bread) before your meal. You are thanking God for bringing forth bread from the earth and at a festive meal is a wonderful time to thank God.
2.  Most volunteer opportunities are very crowded on Thanksgiving day itself but since most of our students have the week before Thanksgiving off I suggest volunteering during that week.  The Northern Illinois food bank is a great place to start and spots are going quickly but if you can't volunteer before Thanksgiving sign up for the future.  
3.  If you can’t make a morning at the Food bank you can always shop for our Blessings in a backpack.  Here is a menu you can shop for with your children and bring them into Lakeside for next time we pack.
4.  Come to Friday night T’filah at Lakeside Congregation, 6:00pm.  We always like to have a minyan, 10 people, for our congregants who are saying Kaddish.  It is usually a small group and we always like to see more smiling faces.
5.  After your Thanksgiving or Shabbat meal make cards to send to the military.  Whether in the United States or Israel if you bring your cards I will make sure they reach the soldiers.  Let  them know we are thinking of them.
6.  This month’s mitzvah is warm hats, gloves and scarves which we will deliver to a school in Waukegan.  If you have any gently used items bring them to Lakeside. We also have a Dreidel board where you can pick the age of a child and buy a present.  
7.  Donate to your local food pantry.  Highland Park, Deerfield and Northbrook all have food pantries which our neighbors in need use.  Give them a call to see what supplies they may need.  It could be cereal, toiletries, diapers or something else.  

I could go on but I am sure there are more things to do and I encourage you to let me know if what great Mitzvah opportunities you find over Thanksgiving, Winter break and beyond.  I love to hear of new projects and it always feels good to pass the news to other mitzvah makers.