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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! !חג תנקסגיבנג שמח

You know, when one makes Aliyah, there's a relatively strong urge to reject out-of-hand all those things that are not 100% Israeli. It's fascinating, actually, to see friends who never in a million years would have worn sandals in the States, and now they wear sandals everyday. They wore black velvet kippot in the States and now they wear crocheted ("srugah") kippot. They loved baseball there, and now love soccer here. The list goes on.

And I have to admit that I, too, have fallen victim to this in certain ways, shedding my jacket and tie in favor of a simple white shirt-black pants combo each Shabbos. For a while, I stopped calling it "Shabbos," going instead for the more widely-used "Shabbat."

But now, almost two years after the big move, things are beginning to become recalibrated a bit. I'll sometimes wear a suit jacket on Friday night in shul these days. I've gone back to "Good Shabbos," after almost two years of "Shabbat Shalom." And I'm 100% comfortable with my American accent during davening now. I no longer fake the Israeli accent just to fit in.

Which brings us to today, the special American holiday of Thanksgiving. Now, first, you need to understand a bit about me to be clearer on the place Thanksgiving once had in my heart. I am a huge sports fan. Well, Thanksgiving is a major pro football day in the US. I love food, and turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce is just about as good as it gets. And a four-day weekend never bothered me much either. So let's just say that, Jewish holidays aside, it never really got much better for me than Thanksgiving.

Then we made Aliyah and Thanksgiving became as "assur" (forbidden) as, well, I don't know, pork? Which is a little silly because, when you think of all the American holidays, is there one that's more Jewish-friendly than Thanksgiving? I mean, the family gets together. You sit around a table. And you eat, basically connecting food with appreciation. Sounds familiar, no?

So put aside the fact that it's an American holiday and Thanksgiving starts to make a lot of sense.

I'm not saying that we should all start observing Thanksgiving here in Israel. What I'm trying to say that sometimes we Olim try extra hard to leave all the Chu"L stuff in Chu"L, even if maybe it wasn't all such bad stuff, and was maybe even pretty darn good.

I'm fortunate enough that my mom, stepdad and sisters are in Israel this year for Thanksgiving, and they've asked to come to our house for Thanksgiving dinner, so, as we speak, the well-stuffed turkey's in the tiny Israel-sized oven, the cranberry (or maybe it should be called "can-berry") sauce is chilling in the fridge, and somehow, we're going to sit around a dinner table tonight feeling that it's perfectly normal to have chumus and matbucha as part of the Thanksgiving feast.

And that's just fine, because it's not about leaving Chu"L behind. It's about building our lives here is the Promised Land, taking what was great in the U.S. and combining it with what we are blessed to have here ... and being thankful for the opportunity to enjoy both.


  • At 3:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was so happy and blessed to read the aliyah stories and thanksgiving celebration by some jewish people in Israel. I do thank Hashem for live in America now, but I just can't wait to make aliyah soon. Hashem knows when and how this miracle will happen, I am just ready to leave. Thank you for the encouragement.Shalom from Indianapolis, In. Miriam Jave...Wed.Dec.06,2006/15 Kislev 5767


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