I grew up in the kind of home that never had a thanksgiving meal for practical reasons, my father couldn’t cook, and my brother and I would rather go skiing then gorging ourselves on turkey and stuffing. So we used to go to my cousins Brooklyn for the meal. As seems to be the case with most issues, I never knew that it was so controversial within the Jewish community until I went away to yeshiva high school.
In my school like most folks with the yeshivish attitude, they used to say “what’s the point of a specific day for thanksgiving, when we thank God every day.” Then of course these same people to acknowledge some sort of sense of being American would go ahead and serve turkey and the trimmings on Friday night instead of the traditional Thursday. I later learned that this cop out was in fact of a practical issue, due to the fact that Friday night is a big meal anyway, why not combine the two?
I personally always found Thanksgiving to be flat out weird, it just doesn’t feel Jewish. I mean how many times do Jews have a big meal with everyone wearing sweaters and khakis, without making Kiddush, having lechem mishna or singing zemiros, to me it feels plain old goyishe. It almost feels too comfortable, sitting in your jeans and sweatshirt eating great food, with no shull obligations.
I always remember the folks who were vehemently anti those that wouldn’t have a meal on thanksgiving, they were always the gung-ho modern orthodox. They would sit at the meal and bash all the frummies for being so un-American.
Then of course you had the super frummies, charedim, Chassidim, whatever you may call them that had no idea it was thanksgiving, unless they worked at B and H Photo or some other retail establishment that relied on black Friday and holidays like thanksgiving to boost their sales. When asking these folks if they believed in, or had a thanksgiving meal, they would give you this quizzical look and say “Vut is dat?”
I can only imagine what other groups reactions are to the whole concept of thanksgiving. I mean how do Vegans go about the whole event, one would think that they stage protests and vigils in mourning for the Turkey genocide that takes place around this time every year. Or the anti-capitalists that believe thanksgiving was created by the evil multinational corporations as an excuse to unload all the fall fashions and products at discount prices and get everyone into the stores for “holiday sales.” Are there super liberal folks that think thanksgiving was a meal celebrated before we went and stole more land from the Indians and then killed and burnt their villages?
How do you celebrate thanksgiving? Any thoughts? Is it heretical according to anyone?
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