To Our Ahavath Achim Family:
This is a grateful time of year. It is the time when we reflect on our lives, our families, and all the elements that have made our lives worthy of thanksgiving. Even with this past year's many challenges, I pray that we can bring forward a posture of gratitude and hope. Our Thanksgiving celebration will undoubtedly look different. For some of us, our Thanksgiving rituals – visits with friends and family, or trips away that we have done year after year – will be broken. For others, people will be missing from around our tables – friends and family who need to keep a distance or others who are painfully gone. All these realities might diminish the attitude of gratitude that is so cherished this time of year. Our American folklore about Thanksgiving might offer us some inspiration.
When I was in school, the tale told was one of a slow, cautious encounter – an indigenous people meeting a strange group of travelers from a far-away land. Two peoples foreign to one another who created a new ritual by gathering to share a meal and a moment in time to express gratitude for the newness of one another and hope for the future. In many ways, this is where we all stand today.
With our rituals broken, we have the gift of exploring and celebrating the newness of the moment. Although we long for the old rituals, and I promise that some of them will be back, can we explore what it might be like to try something new this year? We can Zoom our Thanksgiving with friends and family with whom we usually don't connect. We can add a new dish to the menu. We can add a new activity to the long day of eating and watching TV (long walk or hike is my family's tradition).
Thanksgiving this year will be like no other. We are in uncharted waters, traveling through open plains and prairies, but the newness of the moment holds the possibility of gratitude if we can be open to exploring its gifts.
Below is a link to the Community Interfaith Thanksgiving service that was held on Sunday at Christ Covenant Church. In addition to the beautiful prayers and music, Rev. James Lamkin from Northside Drive Baptist offered a wonderful message about memory, hope, and fig preserves… enjoy! (Watch the Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service here.)
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family,
Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal