Friday, November 26, 2010

Counting our Blessings on Thanksgiving

It's often said that Jews have no need for a Thanksgiving festival, since every day should be Thanksgiving day. And indeed, our tradition calls upon us to recite 100 blessings every day, including those over food. But just as Mothers Day is a good thing even though every day should be Mothers Day, so is Thanksgiving a great innovation (borrowed from Sukkot), because it's one day when EVERYONE is doing the same thing in this country, a profoundly religious act, no matter what their background - the act of giving thanks.

Here's a way to bring Jewish content to our Thanksgiving meals.

As we sit down with our families at the table, pause for a moment to remember how fortunate we are, to be thankful for every moment that we are alive, for the capacity to love and to share. Say a spontaneous prayer and try to give it a Jewish context - the formula for a blessing would be perfect. Just begin as we would with any blessing, "Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu Melech ha-olam" and then add, in English "we are so thankful for ___."

Tradition instructs us to try to utter 100 blessings every day, whether spontaneous or not. Some can be found in the grace after meals (see Birkat Ha-mazon explained in Wikipedia and in the Jewish Virtual Library) If you would like to add some or all of that beautiful prayer to your Thanksgiving meal, it can be downloaded at Birkat Hamazon [pdf]

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